WEDDING GIFT: HIS & HERS

In Finnish kitchens, the moomin illustrated mugs from Arabia are a must. Whether a gift that starts the collection, or serves as quirky breakfast set, it will be a fun reminder of the North all the same. 
IMAGE: DESIGNONLINE.SE

LOOK WHO'S BACK


The official return of the sun was Sunday the 21st of January, which we celebrated with a whole heap of Solboller but so far the actual sun hasn't quite made it past the mountaintops.

NORTHERN LIGHTS

We've had spectacular northern lights this week. Unfortunately we are not spectacular photographers, but this site features a movie to show you what it's all about.

WEDDING GIFT: SOAK IT UP

High quality kitchen towels is something newly weds seldom wish for, but end up using almost every day (I know this from experience, thank you again Sissel). These in cotton/bamboo/viscose are bacteria resistent and have high absorbency, from tradition steeped Ekelunds linneväveri.
IMAGE: EKELUNDS LINNEVÄVERI

WEDDING GIFT: CUT THE CHEESE

In 1925 a patent was registered that would change Scandinavian cheesecutting forever. Knives and strings were abandoned and the ostehøvel from Bjørklund became a staple of our kitchens. Since then the original factory alone has produced more than 50 million cheesecutters,  and the original model still du jour. I even saw several in a cooking shop in the American Midwest a few weeks ago.
IMAGE: PRODUCT IMAGE BY BJØRKLUND, ALTERED BY SCANDINAVIAN CHRISTMAS, USED BY PERMISSION

BRIDAL REGISTRY BY MAIL

Those of us who are expats, or have family scattered around the globe, know that all planning begins a few months prior to the actual events. Christmas gifts need to be shopped in October to be mailed in November,  gifts and cards a couple of weeks ahead of the actual day etc. With this in mind, wedding season is soon upon us!

For a few days we'll feature wedding gifts from Scandinavia that:
1. fit nicely in envelopes or small packages
2.won't break in the mail
3. won't break the bank - including postage.
4. will delight the receiver (i.e. no flag coasters or trolls )

TAKE ME TO BED


I adore woven stripes for bed linen, and finally Sweden foregoes the ubiquitous American East coast shirt stripes for a more Scandinavian look. Abisko (150x210 cm, 100% cotton) looks equally great in cottages, cabins, and modern bedrooms, for both children and adults. Bravo Åhléns!
IMAGE: AHLENS.SE

KNOCK ON WOOD


Wooden cutting board durable enough for every day use, but handsome enough to work the night shift serving hors d'oeuvres of crisp breads with smoked reindeer, rye bread with smoked salmon, mini Västerbotten cheese pies, stacks of miniature waffles with lingonberries... I'm getting hungry just looking at it. Hand made from birch, available at Designtorget.
IMAGE: DESIGNTORGET WEBSHOP

24 HOURS IN STOCKHOLM ON A SHOESTRING

WINTER WEEKDAY EDITION
Stockholm mala me
In the summertime, when the parks are lush and the water glitters, it's enough to buy an ice cream by busy Kungsträdgården and head down Strandvägen towards Djurgården to enjoy Stockholm. When icy winds and dark skies make people scurry inside, a few hints about where to go make all the difference. This is my cheat sheet for dear friends about to visit Stockholm, and for you.

GET A GUIDE
As beautiful as it is, unless you have a guide to unfold its history, the city will be mostly old buildings and waterfronts. Maps with suggested walks for each island are provided here, and updated bikemaps found here.
"Free" (tip the guide) guided tours in English offered most days at 10 AM. Or download TalkoftheTown, a good mp3 guide available in 6 languages, perfect for bikers. Lonely planet has a clever .pdf shop where you get downloads of individual chapters from their guide books. Or take a sightseeing tour by bus or boat with Strömma.

SÖDERMALM
Don't miss: The view over Stockholm from Fjällgatan or Monteliusvägen.
Eat: Spectacular view and vegetarian lunch and dinner buffets at Hermans (11.00-21.00). Our favorite "hole-in-the-wall"for laaate dinner is Amida Kolgrill. (12.00-23.00)

GAMLA STAN
Don't miss: Riddarholmen, the Royal PalaceStorkyrkan (09.00-16.00), and the change of the royal guards (12.15). Make sure to return after sundown for a romantic walk among the cozy dwindling narrow streets and dim lights. Do miss: The tourist-traps (a.k.a. plastic viking helmets and overprized restaurants) of Västerlånggatan.
Eat: Tasty lunch or dinner at Vapiano.

KUNGSHOLMEN
Eat: Breakfast, lunch, and other delights at phenomenal Petite France (08.00-18.00)

NORRMALM/CITY
Don't miss: The petite island Skeppsholmen and the bridge that leads to it. Free art exhibitions on the gallery floors at Kulturhuset.The small cozy Dance Museum, free admission to museum collection and films. One hour before performances, all remaining tickets are sold at half price off at The Royal Opera's box office: top notch opera and ballet, cheaper than the cinema! Visit S:t Jacobs Church from 1588 (free admission). Free organ recitals in S:ta Clara's Church, Fridays 12.00. Free lunchconcerts in S:t Jacob's Church, Thursdays 12.00, and free organ recitals Fridays 17.00.
Shop souvenirs: H&M Flagship Store, Hamngatan 22. Boho style at Indiska, Hamngatan 37. Scandi style for the home at Bruka Design, Granit, Stockhome. Fun independent designers at Designtorget.  On the lowest floor of NK is a nice grocery store perfect for food souvenirs in all price ranges.
Eat: NK Lunch in the shopping centre NK serves regular Swedish lunch dishes (maincourse, salad buffet, bread) fast and easy. Great flavour at great prices from La Neta Taquería y Tortillería Mexicana.

ÖSTERMALM
Eat: Swedish meatballs and such at Café Oscars from the 1940's. Try Swedish pastry, such as the Semla at Sturekatten, Tösse or another bakery in the area.

SÖDRA DJURGÅRDEN
Don't miss: If the weather is nice, a walk or bikeride around the island. The large museum of cultural history Nordiska Museet offers free admission on Wednesdays 17.00-20.00.
Eat: Lunch with an great view at Moderna Museet (11.00-14.00). Lunch by the fire place at Flickorna Helin& Voltaire.

IMAGE: BY BOTAN (OWN WORK) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

RINSE IT

The original Margrethe bowls were designed by Swedish Prince Sigvard and named after his mother, former queen of Sweden. I'm a big fan despite that they aren't "microwaveable". These new, tiny, colanders are perfect for those of us often preparing small meals and lunchboxes for children. Better yet, they make it easier for our 3-year to drain pasta, or wash ingredients himself. The Margrethe series are produced by Rosti Mepal
IMAGE: MEPAL.COM

MORE BULBOUS LOVE

Between 130-160 million tulips are purchased in Sweden every year. One million tulips sold daily between New Year's Eve and Easter, in a country with 9,5 million inhabitants. In Norway, about 80 million a year, a country with just about 5 million inhabitants. That's a lot of bulbs. 

LIGHTBULB MOMENT


What most parents discover when the advent stars are no longer a beacon in the night, is that it was quite convenient to have a night light in the home. As night errands due to imagined monstrous closet dwellers, flu season, and night mares seem to be part of our life indefinately, I might have found a reason to  finally slide Harri Koskinen's modern classic the Block Lamp onto the wish list. Sculpture at day, nightlight when needed, this must be what our living room needs! (Or as we say at this latitude: sculpture for 6 months, nightlight for 6 months...) Available via Design House Stockholm Webshop, Designonline or MOMA.
IMAGE: PRESS IMAGE DESIGN HOUSE STOCKHOLM 

OH SO QUIET

Tromso_Winter_017_m1_screen

I'm about to head downtown to buy fish for dinner, but I must admit that I don't look forward to it. The damp chill and the biting winds from the ocean are not pleasant, and the stillness of this town in January is almost eerie. A twilight zone: after the holidays but before the return of the sun.
IMAGE: PHOTOGRAPH BY PAVEL TREBUKOV, FLICKR

TO THE POINT

Our 3 year old is busy discovering geometric shapes everywhere: a folded napkin by his plate, straws randomly scattered creating intricate geometry, fruit shapes, roof tops, electric cables angled from wooden poles. This should keep him counting... and look great in our living room. Photoprint Triangel by Photografibutiken at Signerat.se.
IMAGE: SIGNERAT.SE

MANDEL


I'm in desperate need of flower pots. I have my eyes set on rougher textures this year, and these Mandel pots would do the trick. IKEA, why do you have to be 8-hrs-of driving-and-crossing-of-3-national-borders away?
Mandel means almond in Swedish, in case you were wondering about that.
IMAGE: IKEA.SE

13 AGAIN


If you didn't stow away christmas 13 days after the very day, today is the day. The 13th of January is Knut's Swedish nameday and has been since 1680. Unless of course, you want to be more orthodox and celebrate christmas until the 2nd of February: Kyndelsmässodagen...

WINTER PARK

Winter at Djurgården, Stockholm, Sweden
Djurgården, Stockholm Date unknown
IMAGE: PHOTO BY CARL CURMAN, SWEDISH NATIONAL HERITAGE BOARD, PUBLIC DOMAIN

BRING A BOOK


Beautiful cookbooks that introduce Swedish cooking to English speaking amateur cooks can be hard to find. Preferably also without fanaticism requiring authentic methods and ingredients, but instead gently combining tradition and modern fare into recipes suitable for Swedish beginners in the kitchen, as well as the many Americans curious about their Scandinavian roots. Three that stand the test and make excellent gifts: Simply Swedish released 2007, and Notes from a Swedish kitchen released in March 2012, both by Margareta Schild Landgren, and our favourite Very Swedish by Annica Triberg.

VIDDA


Travelling back to Norway from our christmas vacation, I was overcome by a feeling of being home as we descended over the dramatic landscape of snowy mountains and fjords. Just like this video. Enjoy.

THE GLOVE COMPARTMENT

Who thought of putting the pattern from the Leksand folk costume on protective gloves for yardwork, carpentry etc? Apparently the creative people at Ejendals Tegera Home collection did. Kitschy or not, they sure seem easier to find in the glove pile than a black pair. 
IMAGE: EJENDALS.SE

IT'S THURSDAY!


There is a tradition in Sweden to eat pea soup and pancakes on Thursdays, which date back to early medieval days when Catholic nations fasted Friday through Sunday. (Germans outdo us as usual, by having the pancakes in the soup: Flädlesuppe).

In our family it's a convenient tradition since a few spoons of soup can be lured into the son's mouth with promises of pancakes. I've been on a quest to find a good, healthy, kid-friendly pancake recipe. I've tried hemp-protein and whole wheat flour in the mix, which worked fine, but made pretty dense heavy cakes. 

Yesterday I came across this recipe and got curious.  

GRAHAM PANCAKES 
5 dl milk
1,5 dl white all purpose wheat flour
1 dl graham flour or whole wheat flour
0.5 tsp salt
3 eggs
2-3 msk butter or margarine 

You probably don't need the specifics beyond the ingredients, but if you do: This site is for you.

Update: I added 1 egg, and a dash more milk but the recipe worked like a charm and yielded 16 pancakes. A new favourite!
IMAGE: SKEPPSHULT.COM

BAO!


Enjoying my lunch in front of the 10 year anniversary concerts with Benny Anderssons Orkester. Available internationally through SVT Play until the 8th of february. Or view a recording session of one of my favourites Allt syns när man är naken (Everything shows when one is naked). Despite being naked-themed dance music penned by ABBA-Benny, this is as far away from Lady Gaga as you get.
IMAGE: PRESS IMAGE BY CARL HJELTE; BLIXTEN & CO

TWINKLE TWINKLE

Another thing to shop for on after christmas sales is the paper stars to hang in windows in advent. 
Three reasons: 
1. You will not have time in november to do it. 
2. They keep well until december, and classic, instead of trendy, designs are what you want anyway. 
3. Didn't I mention they're on sale? Did you really need the other reasons?

Star Suria from Swedish design company Men at Work, with a patented safety construction approved by American Underwriters Laboratory, is on sale at Frapp.se.
IMAGE: FRAPP WEBSHOP

JANUARY

THIS LITTLE LIGHT OF MINE


I try to refrain from blogging about favourites from Svenskt Tenn, or this would be a blog that simply goes through most of their product range in alphabetical order, but candle holder Liten has me longing for a trip to Stockholm. Wouln't it be nice with a tiny cluster of these on the kitchen table now that christmas is over but polar night is not.
IMAGE: SVENSKT TENN WEBSHOP

TRAY CHIC

I'm a big fan of Åry Trays, a Swedish producer of dishwasher safe wood coasters and trays. Their own collections feature collaborations with, among others, Michael Angove. This tray from the Chinoiserie series, available in 5 sizes, is perfect for winter and holidays without any of the usual suspects involved (christmastrees, Santa Claus, reindeer). It would look brilliant with a mound of clementines.  
IMAGE: ÅRY TRAYS, USED WITH PERMISSION

STILL STANDING

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The bonus of all white christmas flowers is that they still look striking through New Years Eve and beyond.

SEAM-STRESS


A few of you may be wondering how my embroidery is coming along. Most of you probably realize that it's not. Apparently a hoop is needed and I lack a hoop, that's why. It's presently not in the highest percentile of priorities on the to do list, but I promise that as soon as I get the previous 176 items cleared off the list, you'll be informed.
IMAGE: KORSSTYGNSBOLAGET

BOOK IT


Sven Nordqvist is author and illustrator of many modern classics for children. From his series about Pettsson and Findus, our son's favourite is The Fox Hunt. The colourful illustrations feature plenty of simple country life and red cottages. Yet, instead of romanticized nostalgia, they offer curious visual quirks and riddles with a timeless appeal. A favourite among both girls and boys (even adults). Adlibris offers great prices on Pettsson items in Swedish, English and Spanish.
IMAGE: OPAL.SE

TIME TO WALK THE WALK...

Here I am contemplating this year's healthy resolutions. Browsing blogs, recipes and cookbooks. Raw Food? Detox? LCHF? Vegetarian? All the while I'm munching on chocolates... wish me luck.
IMAGE: PHOTOGRAPHER JON SULLIVAN PUBLIC DOMAIN; SCANDINAVIAN CHRISTMAS

PLAY IT SAFE - FINLAND

Helsinki is the World Design Capital 2012. So in honor of our close neighbours, we've handpicked Finnish small gifts that suit just about any adult recipient. Prices range between 40-299 SEK / 35-250 NOK/ 6-43 USD.

Maribowl by Marimekko for Iittala, available in 2 sizes and 19 colours. Unikko Mouse Pad, Marimekko. Moomin mug by Arabia, Terva Leijona tar and licorice pastilles, owned by Leaf Candy Company International. Bird of Hattula Brooch in bronze, Kalevala Koru. Bowl with nut cracker, Casa Stockmann. Strong mustard in metal tube, Auran Sinappi. Wooden body scrubbers for sauna or shower, Rentosauna.
IMAGES: IITTALA.COM, MARIMEKKO.COM, IITTALA FINNISH WEBSHOP, LAKRITSBUTIKEN.SE, KALEVALA KORU WEBSHOP, STOCKMANN WEBSHOP, AURANSINAPPI.FI, RENTOSAUNA.FI

A LITTLE HOMESICK FOR STOCKHOLM

Stureplan, Stockholm  in the winter of 1957
Stockholm, in the winter of 1957.
IMAGE: STOCKHOLM TRANSPORT MUSEUM

BEHIND THE SCENES

Lovely as it was to be on vacation and meet family, and as much as I enjy blogging, after christmas my steam simply ran out. I'll tell you what our christmas run up was like: son and husband sick in pneumonia, then son and husband sick in 3 bouts of stomach flu, then son gets the chicken pox.

But christmas supposedly lasts until Easter, or what did you say Karen?...