GIFTS FOR MUSICAL CONNOISSEURS

   Beethoven: Piano Concertos Nos.1 & 3 Gruber: 3 MOB Pieces - Busking - Schwertsik: Divertimento Macchiato

If you are looking for a musical gift that'll last beyond the holiday season, Scandinavia boasts several acclaimed classical virtuosos with award winning releases. Try Martin Fröst's latest release,  Brahms: Clarinet Quintet, Trio in A Minor & 6 Songs, Leif Ove Andsnes, Beethoven: Piano Concertos No.1 & 3, or Håkan Hardenberger Gruber: 3 MOB pieces - Busking - Schwertsik: Divertimento Macchiato
IMAGES: ITUNES

A FAMILY FRIENDLY DRÄLL


This tablecloth comes with a personal letter of recommendation from our family. The geometrical dräll patterns are a Swedish classic, and while I'm grateful to have inherited the beautiful real deal in linen, this cheaper version is the one used most in our home. 

It's a linen and cotton mix that is durable beyond imagination. The laundry directions say cold wash only, but I've had mine in both warm and hot cycles and even the tumbler. It still looks good going on its 9th year. (Ours is white, so perhaps colours would fade if you abuse yours like we do ours...) 

It's rather thin so sometimes we use a silencer, and to get it shiny, expect a lot of work with your iron. But most of the time we just iron it when damp and consider it good enough for a family get together involving kids.  

Available in 5 colours at Hemtex
IMAGE: PRESS IMAGE HEMTEX

PRE-ADVENT

Plates Swedish grace by Rörstrand, Paper star garland by Indiska, Candle holder Season by Georg Jensen, Cupcake liners Vinterkul by IKEA, Egg cups Origo by Iittala, Lavender bags Vendela by Himla, Glasses Kartio by Iittala.
IMAGES: RÖRSTRAND, INDISKA, GEORG JENSEN, IKEA, IITTALA, ELLOS

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN NORWAY AND SWEDEN

BorderPost272 - Norway and Sweden

In our neck of the woods, the only difference is on which side of these boundary markers you stand. National border mark number 272, demarcating Norway and Sweden, built in 1763.
IMAGE: By Bjørn Christian Tørrissen [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

NO MORE JOTTING IT IN


Nordiska Museet in Stockholm (The Museum of Nordic History) has an excellent calendar named Årets Dagar (Days of the Year). It's a guide to when, how and why for Swedish traditions. Now available as a free app for iPhone and Android, where you an mark days and holidays you want to be reminded of. Perfect for the trivia oriented, Scandi-interested, or the expat who's lost track of the days...
IMAGE: ITUNES

A TRIBUTE TO GRANDFATHERS

TREET YOURSELF


Is it a tree? Is it a curtain? Is it a tablecloth? It's Vinter 2014! So happy to see this fabric return to IKEA.
IMAGE: PRODUCT IMAGE IKEA

SUDDENLY...

Why are the simplest things the most difficult to find? A throw cushion for our couch in a navy shade that was leaning towards midnight blue,  removable cover in a fabric suitable for casual family life (aka wrinkles and stains).  It took me 6 months but here it is. Washed Diamond Sham from Swedish lifestyle brand Lexington

Now, how do I convince the rest of the family that a cushion cover with the price tag equivalent of, let's see, about 500 meatballs, or 1600 lollipops, or 4 big boxes of lego is what they want on their Christmas wish list?  
IMAGE: PRODUCT IMAGE LÄNNA MÖBLER WEBSHOP 

SPILL CATCHER



There is plenty of sleek Scandi design to go around, but this year's first christmas purchase was traditional kitsch! The textile placemats we use during the holidays are family friendly, but I decided that for every day spills, we're going plastic. Not very eco/conscious, I know, but neither is daily washing and stain removal. Place mat with Jenny Nyström motif, available at ICA, and other retailers. We found ours at Clas Ohlson. 
IMAGE: ICA HEMMA 

READY TO WEAR FOR YOUR WALLS


Sofia Magnusson, the entrepreneur behind The Folklore Company wanted to combine her appreciation for traditional folklore decorating with a modern lifestyle. She created a web application where you can design your own embroidered wall hanging and have it ready made and delivered! 

I was impressed that they also offer the option of turning your design into a DIY kit. That shows respect for the original craft and handmade creations, earning them bonus points from me. 

And then I found the sample wall hanging above... Ha! It's like they know me... 
A global site is in the makings, so stay tuned folks. 
IMAGE: SAMPLE IMAGE, THE FOLKLORE COMPANY, USED WITH PERMISSION 

SLÅ PÅ RING

"Slå på ring", Folkefjellet.

The other day as I was picking up my son at school, a group of children were playing Slå på ring, a sing song verse that is part of a game of catch. So is this group from around 1910 on top of Folkefjellet. Looks like fun!
IMAGE: PAUL STANG, FYLKESARKIVET I SOGN OG FJORDANE

WANTED



The traditional Swedish cheesecake is nothing like the velvet smooth American cousin, but a grainy almond flavoured pudding similar in consistency to baked cottage cheese. It's served warm, plain or with jam. I adore it. 

Homemade always taste better, but is time consuming. I don't mind cheating with cheese cake or ostkaka from  Frödinge, the dairy company founded in 1929. 

Imagine how badly I've been wanting to sample the ostkaka with saffron, the Swedish christmas spice No.1. Gah! It's enough to consider a christmas in Sweden next year. 
IMAGE: PRODUCT IMAGE ORKLA FOODS, CC

STABLE DWELLER

Design duo Bengt och Lotta always find the right balance between naive folklore and modern graphics. A personal favourite is candle holder Häst, available from Designonline among others.
IMAGE: PRODUCT IMAGE DESIGNONLINE

IN THE DARK OF THE NIGHT

Northern Lights over Tromsø

Polar night is approaching, but the town and the sky is everything but pitch black. Such a beautiful season. Nothing can compete with Christmas in the very North. Sorry, Australia.
IMAGE: CLAUDIA REGINA VIA flickr.com/claudiaregina_cc

WEEKEND READING LIST


Read recipes and get christmas party inspiration from the book Fixa julen, cozy it up with Ernst in his magazine Hemma med Ernst, and get some embroidery inspiration in Brodera mera. Click on links for complete online issues, or excerpts.  
IMAGES: COVERS VIA ISSUU 

PERFECT PITCH?



I bought a cheap blown glass pitcher a decade ago, and after using it and finding it great I decided to get another. To my horror, well all right, to my disappointment it had been discontinued, and I haven't found one as good or pretty as that since. Two months ago it slipped out of my grip and I have been in mourning ever since.

Looking for a business idea in Scandinavia? Here's one: good pitchers for every day use. They're actually really hard to come by! Stelton is trying to fill the void with Freja. I applaud the effort. Durable steel, with a 2 liter capacity, and good looks -I'm almost convinced. But the handle means it can't go in the dishwasher, and with a hefty price tag... it still leaves me on the fence.

The search continues.
IMAGE: PRESS IMAGE STELTON 

(K) ELLY GREEN


Sometimes it's not the big name designer collaborations that make my day, but the small releases that update the look of my weekday chores. Kitchen towel Elly from IKEA is now available in green. How much money am I willing to bet on the chance that they'll be used as napkins in quite a few creative holiday tables on Pinterest? Quite a large sum, dear.
IMAGE: PRODUCT IMAGE IKEA

WHAT DOES THE FOX SAY

Bruno Liljefors - Räv i vinterlandskap

My cousin has shot two foxes these past days and shown them off on Facebook. I immediately thought of Bruno Liljefors. Of course.
IMAGE: By Bruno Liljefors (1860-1939) (www.bukowskis.se/) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons 

LULLABY FROM FINLAND

GOOSE WALK


Today is Mårtensgås in Sweden,  or Martinmas, which honors St. Martin and marks the start of the orthodox Catholic Christmas fast. A European tradition since the 16th century, although it is vanishing into obscurity in most parts of Sweden except the very South. Admiring cute Geese ornaments from Danish company Maileg, is as close to a celebration as I'm getting today.
IMAGE: PRODUCT IMAGE MAILEG

PSSSST... NATTEN GÅR TUNGA FJÄT...

Now is the time to gear up for Lucia! Don't be the frantic parent driving from store to store on the 12th of December looking for the right items in the right sizes, ribbon, glitter and new paper cones, and batteries from the gas station... don't be that person. Order online or get to the stores, but do it before this weekend.

ICA Hemma 
KappAhl Tomteshop
Lindex Lusseshop
Åhléns 
Ellos Luciashop

LA TABLE

Table settings - Mateus
IMAGE: MATEUS CERAMICS

WOOF WOOF


Our 1-year old saw this classic Kaj Bojesen dog in the Illum Bolighus Christmas catalogue the other day and went nuts, pointing and laughing and getting excited. 

Why yes, appreciation for Danish design does transfer via breast milk.  
IMAGE: ILLUM BOLIGHUS WEBSHOP

HUBRIS



This could be the year pigs finally learn how to fly, because I am determined to finish a sewing project before Christmas. The plan: a simple envelope pillow with a legible line from a Christmas song embroidered on front.
IMAGE: MADE USING THE CROSS STICH WRITING TOOL

NEW CASES

Cushion Cover Tallyho 50x50 cmLustgården kuddvar - röd - Design House Stockholm     Cushion Cover red Fruktlåda

Ljungbergs Factory have been in business since 1834, and their brand is associated with designer Stig Lindberg. Their webshop is an excellent browse for those of us who ponder pillows as pastime. And, you know, red on red gets me every time.
IMAGES: PRODUCT IMAGES DESIGNONLINE, LJUNGBERGS FACTORY WEBSHOP

1914-2014



The school in Gibostad, Senja, celebrates its 100 year anniversary this year. A part of me wishes school buildings still looked like this rather than the modern factory lookalikes.
IMAGE: PERSPEKTIVET MUSEUM TROMSØ VIA FLICKR

IT'S A WRAP


Lexington is introducing a new colour for my favourite kitchen towels: forest green. I love it. Of course. Wrap pretty loaves of bread in these, tie a string or ribbon around it, and have a quick set of holiday gifts ready for delivery.
IMAGE: PRODUCT IMAGE LÄNNA MÖBLER WEBSHOP

DREAMING OF A WHITE CHRISTMAS


Danish Furniture company Skagerak has been in production since the 1970s. Their fire bowl Helios, is on my winter wish list. Wouldn't it be lovely to not have to undress all of those layers of clothes to have lunch after you've been tumbling in the snow. Just grill some hot dogs or heat a lamb stew á la Hahnemann, and get right back to family fun.
IMAGE: PRODUCT IMAGE SKAGERAK

IN THE SPOTLIGHT

This is the season for celebrating light, and candlelight is pretty and all, but doesn't really light up a room enough for hours of reading and homework. Spotlight Puck by Åke Hultgren, produced by Örsjö Belysning, is discrete but fun, available in eight colours, has a dimmer, and looks like a good candidate for the boys' room. 
IMAGE: ÖRSJÖ BELYSNING

THE PRICE IS RIGHT



This is the right shade of red for "my" Christmas. Table runner Rips from ICA Hemma is washable and doesn't cost me an arm and a leg. Which means I may actually put it on the table during the holidays, rather than store it with the rest of the table linen heirlooms warming my shelves until the kids have grown a little older...
IMAGE: PRODUCT IMAGE ICA HEMMA WEBSHOP

NOVEMBER

Carl Larsson - k.jpg

Peasant Interior in Winter by Carl Larsson.
IMAGE: Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

MEET MR MUFFIN HIMSELF


Look what I discovered at Åhléns! A sweet guinea pig that looks like Mr Muffins. The perfect company as you read the story, and then little children digest the story in their own time through play. If I were a teacher, this darling and the book about Mr Muffins would be a great teaching method for talking about ageing and the passing of loved ones.
IMAGE: PRESS IMAGE ÅHLENS

FAMILY WEEKEND READS

Alla döda små djur Adjö, herr Muffin Omslagsbild: Draken med de röda ögonen

This weekend, with all its Halloween gore and its Allhelgona grave visits, we'll make sure to have a few real conversations about death and dying. Three Swedish books that are a great, age appropriate, introduction to the topic of death and dying:

All the dear little animals, by Ulf Nilsson and Eva Eriksson is about a small band of children who decide to become undertakers for animals. Available in English, read the excerpt here.

Farewell, Mister Muffin, also by Ulf Nilsson and illustrated by Anna-Clara Tidholm is by now a Swedish children's classic. The family guinea pig is ageing and one day he gets a stomach ache. Available in English, and Norwegian. Read an excerpt here.

One of Astrid Lindgrens finest pieces, The dragon with red eyes, is our family favourite for fall. In the most gentle of ways it tells the story of a small family member born different from the others, and eventually fly alone into the sunset. It is sadly out of print in English, but available in NorwegianGerman. Read an excerpt (in Swedish) here.
IMAGES: PRODUCT IMAGE BONNIER CARLSEN, RABÈN & SJÖGREN