KNOT AN AVERAGE GIFT

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HRH Queen Silvia of Sweden founded the World Childhood Foundation 1999 and in celebration of their 15 years they are releasing a more exclusive version of their colourful childhood bracelet. Available in 20 colour combinations and a larger leather version for men. The perfect gift in many ways. 
IMAGE: PRESS IMAGE  WORLD CHILDHOOD FOUNDATION

CHRISTMAS AT IKEA



Beautiful styling from IKEA. View their christmas collections here.
IMAGE: PRESS IMAGE IKEA; USED WITH PERMISSION

CHRISTMAS MUSIC

The Swedish Public Radio has two channels devoted to christmas music only. The channels are available between the 26th of November and 9th of January.  Both stations are available online:

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

Happy listening!

SHOW ME THE CHEESE!

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One of the few things from Sweden I miss is hard cheese. These new releases from Kvibille have been cured for 18 months and will be on my wish list of contraband* gifts for christmas.I'm already dreaming about what I'll pair them with...mulled cider...  cloudberries... fig marmalade...

(*That was a joke, it's perfectly legal to bring these cheeses across the Scandinavian borders).

HOW'S IT HANGING?

VINDEL Julekule
Standard sized ornaments are slightly too small to create balance in larger trees, but Bohus Interior has ones that are sized just right. Glassornaments are a hazard and ... yup, I broke one last year, so some new acquisitions are due.
IMAGE: PRODUCT IMAGE BOHUS. NO

SCANDI CELEBRATIONS LITE

Do you want to bring a little bit of Scandinavia into your christmas season without sidestepping any of your present family traditions? Try one or more of these simple additions:

Make a 4-candle arrangement and light a candle each Sunday in advent.
Serve 7 kinds of cookies
Celebrate the day of Lucia on the 13th of December and eat some kind of buns.
Find a CD with Scandinavian christmas music you enjoy and add to your December playlist. 
Add gravlax and Swedish meatballs to your holiday brunch.

WIPE IT OUT

We've put the blue Lexington kitchen towels (thank you Sissel) to good use. Still going strong after 7 years of intense kitchen labor. Now I'm contemplating red ones for the winter season to match the rest of the kitchen's holiday get up.
 IMAGE: LÄNNA MÖBLER WEBSHOP

THE BUN BAKE OFF

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Made the first batch two weeks ago using this recipe, and for the second batch I'm attempting the one crowned the best recipe for Lussebullar by the ICA Buffé test kitchen. They tested a whopping 20 recipes so I have high expectations for the winner! Now, if I could just get this baby to sleep so I have time to follow the directions meticulously...
IMAGE: YOUNG WOMAN BAKING, 1939, UPPLANDSMUSEET LÄNSMUSEET 

MUSIC (BE)FOR(E) ADVENT

Jul På Norska, Georg Wadenius Julsånger Utan Ord, Mats Bergström Jul, Songlaget I Bul I Oslo
Tender instrumental arrangements that match the silent landcape and falling snow outside our window: Jul på norska by "Jojje" Wadenius, Julsånger utan ord with Mats Bergström och Georg Riedel. And  for the 1st Sunday in advent: JUL with Songlaget BUL Oslo. Click on cover to preview. 
IMAGES: ITUNES

MULLING IT

Glöggkrydda 90g
Mulling spices for glögg. They look pretty good packaged in a clear container. I wish I had the time to show you my splendid attempt of a copycat version as neighbour gifts. Perhaps an idea for all you DIY:ers out there? Glöggkrydda from GRANIT.
IMAGE: GRANIT WEBSHOP

BEST IN SHOW 2013



The best christmas inpiration this year is found in the advent catalogue from Norwegian store Home and Cottage. Get a big mug of something hot, cozy up, and browse it HERE.
IMAGE: HOME AND COTTAGE BLOG, PHOTOGRAPHER PER STIAN JOHNSEN 

TWO WEEKS BEFORE ADVENT


...and that was it. Apparently we couldn't wait any longer. The feathery flakes have been falling silently all afternoon. I wanted to find a recipe for making our own alcoholfree glögg, and my son joined in the kitchen adventures. Now if you're tasting glöggrecipes, you might as well bring out a few saffron buns from the freezer, some nuts and dark chocolate. And if your son is gloomier than the sky, you can bring out his favourite christmas CD to top it off.

Julen er her.

THE WOES OF ONLINE SHOPPING


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We "need" a new fruit platter (I prefer to store the fruit on a platter instead of a bowl. It keeps better and is more versatile). I've decided on a Mateus platter but which colour and model? I think the one above is the one, but I keep changing my mind since I can't see and hold it. Not being able to see actual colour and real life size is the ultimate downfall of ordering online. Available from Kids&Friends among others. 
IMAGE: PRODUCT IMAGE KIDS&FRIENDS WEBSHOP 

THE NEW FAVOURITE

I'm so glad Johanne ornaments were gifted to us a few years ago (thank you svigers) because I never would have thought to pay so much for something so dainty and romantic. It seemed they'd disappear in the greenery, but it turns out they look incredible and are easily placed since they don't require the sturdiest of branches. Now they're a constant item on my wish list. Available in two sizes and in gold and palladium. 
IMAGE: PRODUCT IMAGE GEORG JENSEN WEBSHOP

SWEDISH GRACE



Louise Adelborg has designed the porcelain that has been gracing Swedish dinner tables since the thirties and our christmas table since, well, 2011. The colour "sky" (top left) is being discontinued which naturally makes me crave that particular colour more than ever before...
IMAGE: PRESS IMAGE RÖRSTRAND

YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU'VE GOT 'TIL IT'S GONE

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A few days ago it was a sunny winter wonderland, but then the clouds rolled in and warmer degrees turned the crispy white into a slush of gray. And as usual that turned to ice that melted a little during the day. Slippery? Ask the bruises on my hip, knee, elbow and ankle. Ouch.

THE BEST DICE GAME EVER

Johannas Choklad
This is the perfect ace up your sleeve for impromptu game nights, a sleepover, youth activities, family reunions, or the event that usually involves all of the above: Christmas at your house. Works equally great with a big bar, pralines, wrapped pieces, or a pile of M&M's. Try it tonight and thank me later.

Supplies needed: chocolate stash, five dice, a pen.

Play Yahtzee according to your regular rules, but the player with the highest score per set (house, straights etc.) gets one piece of chocolate. If players get an equal score in a set, neither gets chocolate. The final winner with the highest score, gets what's left of the chocolate pile.

It sounds ridiculously simple, and it is! But because you can play strategically to limit the other players' gains (by aiming for equal scores as someone else) it quickly becomes a lively competition for chocolate!

IMAGE: PHOTOGRAPHER HANS OLOFSSON VIA FLICKR

WHEN THE CHILDREN HAVE GONE TO BED

When the Children have Gone to Bed

"When the children have gone to bed" by Carl Larsson. Exchange the book for an ipad and there's the scene in this household after 8 PM: parents negotiating with themselves between the pile of "things-that-need-to-get-done" and the list of "things-I want-to-do-instead".

BRAID ME

BRAID GLAZE dekoration gråBRAID GLAZE dekoration grå
This largecandle holder BRAID from Indiska must have been made for those of us who don't have the time to source unique ceramic items in dark corners of flea markets. Would look good next to pumpkins as well as small juniper trees. 
IMAGE: INDISKA WEBSHOP

A HAPPY ENDING


http://www.nyakers.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Gingersnaps_900g.jpg
Needed a tin box for gingerbread cookies 2011. Bought a box from Nyåkers beacause of its Scandi-christmas-feel. Brought the content to a church fika, and replaced it with the homemade creations of 3-year old son. Spent two holidays annoyed at myself for being annoyed by the ridiculous fact that the red colour of the tin doesn't match the red that I've chosen for holiday decorations.

Yes, I'm aware that it's a little alarming that this is on the list of things that annoy me in the world. This year, discovered that the bakery makes a larger box that come a lot closer to the right colour.

Happy endings are great.
IMAGE: PRODUCT IMAGE NYÅKERS

LET THE GAMES BEGIN

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2,5 weeks until the 1st of advent and I'm ordering gifts, preparing menus, and making lists. The soon-to-be 5 year old has proudly announced that he'll be in the Lucia processional at kindergarten. Today I will attempt the first batch of saffron buns. I'm testing at least two different recipes this year to see if we can find the ultimate bun and be well stocked by the time Lucia comes around to wake us up.
IMAGE: SWEDISH ORIGIN, PHOTOGRAPHER UNKNOWN, VIA BRITT-MARIE SOHLSTRÖM ON FLICKR

5 X-MAS DO'S AND DON'TS FOR BEGINNER SCANDINAVIANS

DO
  1. Decorate trees, spruces or large bushes with strings of white lights.
  2. Embrace advent! The weeks leading up to Christmas is part of the celebration. 
  3. Share your own native christmas traditions with others. 
  4. Try to score an invitation to some form of local festivity, preferably a family christmas celebration.
  5. Expect to see Santas wandering about town on Christmas Eve delivering gifts.

DON'T
  1. Decorate the whole exterior of your house in multicoloured lamps. It's considered extremely tacky.
  2. Expect stores to be open during the holiday. This is particularly true for Norway.
  3. Mistake frowns and silence for lack of holiday cheer. It's cold and we want to get indoors, that's all. 
  4. Believe that the celebrations you attend are the ultimate blueprint for ALL Scandinavian christmas celebrations. Some have a tendency to claim any and all traditions hail from the vikings. Not true. 
  5. Go on and on about your discomfort with seeing Rudolph on a plate. We ate reindeer long before that silly song was invented. Get over it. 

OUR DAILY BREAD

burkar
A given for Swedes travelling abroad for Christmas is bringing knäckebröd, or crisp bread from Leksand. These tin storage boxes offer some protection and can double as gift boxes. Visit the bakery shop in Leksand or the webshop.
burkar
IMAGES: PRODUCT IMAGES LEKSANDS KNÄCKEBRÖD

CRISPY WHITES





It's november, and only three more week until the first Sunday in advent. I'm not quite ready to bring in the poinsettas, greenery and bublbs, but a few delicate orchids to tie us over for a few more weeks would be nice. That is if I can bring them home without risking their lives in the wintry cold weather.
IMAGES: SLOTTSTRÄDGÅRDEN ULRIKSDALS HANDELSTRÄDGÅRD, RAPPNE.NU, USED WITH PERMISSION 

BIRDIE NAM NAM

DecoBird KoltrastDecoBird GärdsmygDecoBird BlåmesDecoBird Sädesärla

I adore the products from Swedish garden company Wildlife Garden. Their hand crafted wooden Deco Birds have secured a special place in my heart ever since I first spotted one at Skansenbutiken a decade ago or so. I have no idea why they are so appealing to me, they just are. 
IMAGES: PRODUCT IMAGES WILDLIFE GARDEN

WITH THE ENVIRONMENT IN MIND

Despite my love for beautiful things and all things christmas there is something about holiday consumption that is off putting to me. Anna at Annas Jul is attempting a more environmentally conscious celebration this year and so are we. Though christmas is certainly no askesis in our household, I try to rein in expectations before they become overwhelming. In addition to our attempt to cut back on unnecessary frills, we are also prioritizing local meats and vegetables when possible. This year we're also considering gifting tickets, season passes and experiences, rather than piles toys for the children.

All of your additional suggestions are welcome.

MUSIC FOR EARLY NOVEMBER



"Beyond the sun and the moon", from the musical HELP WANTED that was performed at Orionsteatern in Stockholm during 2013.

TRAY BIEN

The Moomin Valley tray - multi - Opto design
I'm old enough to prefer the original Moomin illustrations over the later Japanese manga renditions. This tray evokes the adventurous moomin spirit and its muted colours feel right this time of year. 
IMAGE: PRODUCT IMAGE SCANDINAVIAN DESIGN CENTER 

FOOTLOOSE



Finally! Shoehorns that look good enough to be on constant but discrete display! Thank you Norrgavel
And such a perfect gift for Father's day that is celebrated this coming Sunday in Scandinavia. 
IMAGE: PRODUCT IMAGE NORRGAVEL

48 HRS WITH SMALL CHILDREN IN STOCKHOLM

FALL WEEKEND EDITION
Junibacken in Stockholm
I love to visit Stockholm with kids. Sweden has a special place in its heart for cultural experiences created just for children. Because of the paid maternity/paternity leave it's big business to cater to young audiences. Art events, plays, comic book libraries, and museums galore! But if you only have a weekend in the city, and young children to entertain, which are the sights you don't want to miss?

SÖDERMALM
Don't miss: I thought it'd be a hit with my 3-year old, but I didn't know I'd have to drag him out of the Spårvägsmuseet (Street car museum) a whopping 4.5 hours later. If your kid loves to climb in and out of vehicles, as most preschoolers do, this is your Mecca.
Eat: The museum has a cafe, including a nice area for those who want to bring a packed lunch.
Bonus: Catch the small ferry from Slussen to Djurgården (30SEK for adults) if that's where you're headed next. Even short boatrides add to the adventure.

SÖDRA DJURGÅRDEN
Don't miss: Junibacken, a storybook playhouse for children with an exciting story ride, 2 plays and singing time every day. Well worth the hefty entrance fees. You're even allowed to leave the museum for a couple of hours and come back for more play the same day. Perfect, since this island has a lot to offer, or if you want to take a lunch break elsewhere. Skansen is a large outdoor museum with plenty to discover for those with high energy levels. One of the few museums where you can run like the wind between sights for hours! The newest addition is a spacious mini-zoo for the youngest visitors.
Eat: Either at one of the museums, or at the charming Rosendahl's garden café. If temperatures allow, the island offers plenty of picnic spots.

SKEPPSHOLMEN
Walk (or run) to the petite island Skeppsholmen on the tiny bridge that leads to it. Check out the old boats along the walk to Moderna Museet. Family Sundays with tours and workshops for ages 2-6 and 4-7.  
Eat: The top floor of the museum has a great view and its lunch restaurant a family friendly menu.

GAMLA STAN
Don't miss: This part of the city is a fun walk in itself with winding streets, candy stores and passageways, and can begin or end with the change of the royal guard (Mon-Sat 12.15, Sun 13.15) outside the royal palace. Check the schedule to see if the guards are on horses or whether they'll be performing music. At Polkapojkarna you can watch as candy canes are made by hand, and shop canes in just about any possible size. The perfect little pit stop along the way.
Eat:  Under kastanjen, a decently priced café serving an uncomplicated menu, and plenty of options suitable for children. It's in a quiet neighbourhood, off the main tourist streets. Tell the kids to be on the lookout for a large golden Pretzel (Kringla)!

NORRMALM
Don't miss:  The great outdoor playground in Humlegårdsparken, with swings, play houses, sand boxes and more. Staff, bathrooms, bicycles and toys are available 11-17 on weekends.
Eat: NK Lunch in the shopping centre NK serves regular Swedish lunch dishes (maincourse, salad buffet, bread) fast and easy. Perfect for a late meal is Sweden's favourite hamburgerchain Max, where patties are 100% Swedish beef, and dieting parents can choose no carb burgers or grilled chicken salads among their many options.

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