TENN LYS - A CHRISTMAS PRAYER



1. One candle shines                                              2. Two candles shine for love, for faith
for the small planet                                             for those who show compassion,
we all share and call home                                and those who build bridges
May we also share a hope                                 May prisoners have their freedom
and good things come to pass                          and refugees a home                                       
May heaven and earth meet                              Let two candles shine for those who cry 
As one candle shines                                           and for those who bring them comfort 

3. Three candles shine for all                              4. Four candles shine, all lights shine,
who must fight for peace, for freedom            for Him, who loves all living creatures
all whom need our help                                     each lion and each lamb
May no one lose their courage                         For the Heavenly King
till all people unite as one                                 who herds His flock
Three candles shine                                           For heaven and earth meet
for those who struggle                                       as a child in a manger
for freedom and justice for all

5. Lights shine for the splendours of life
for fields, for water and air
for peace, for friendship,
for children of all nations
May no one be afraid
or lack a safe haven
May the light shine bright with hope
to defy poverty and distress"

Translated freely from Norwegian

TERRA-IFIC

It had me at Hello. How can someone who is so terrible at maintaining greenery and plants have such an affinity for expensive terracotta pots!? Gah. The heart wants, what the heart wants. Terracotta pot for outdoor or indoor use from Danish company Skagerak. Available in two colours.
IMAGE: PRODUC IMAGE LANNA MOBLER WEB SHOP 

NEW IN


A small woven bucket for toys may not be on the boys´ wish list, but it sure is on mine, for them. There always seem to be something lacking a home, and a black catch all is my universal solution. This one is new in at H&M Home and fits their book shelves to a tee.
IMAGE: PRODUCT IMAGE H&M HOME

BEAD IT, LUCIA

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Our kids love crafting with Hama fuse beads, and their December creations often get an honorary place on their own little trees. Last year I made these Lucia ornaments for our youngest, a quick and easy project. If you want to make your own, just enlarge the picture, they're easy to copy.

SCANDI ORNAMENTS

Master story teller HC Andersen used to cut elaborate paper silhouettes to illustrate his stories. Danish firm Nordahl Andersen have turned some of them into delicate ornaments. Seen above is "The ugly duckling". I've been eyeing the whole collection this year, I think some will become this year´s addition to the tree.
IMAGE: PRODUCT IMAGE NORDAHL ANDERSEN WEB SHOP

THE DAY OF SAINT LUCY

Churches of Stockholm 04: Kungsholm church

I had goose bumps, a tear in the corner of my eye and a heart full of Christmas. This year the Swedish Public Service channel SVT broadcast the quintessential Lucia procession. Bravo.

Variations on the Lucia processions are necessary, 6 part a cappella arrangements are not for everyone. But when you copy a copy enough times, you end up with something very far from the original, so it was refreshing to revisit its modern day classical glory. 

This year´s rendition was put together and performed so skilfully that the singing seemed effortless, and my heart rejoiced. This was my kind of Lucia. It will be the bench mark for all future broadcasts.

The church of Ulrika Eleonora was consecrated in 1688, and is a spectacular backdrop for the annual Lucia celebrations. If you are a winter visitor in Stockholm, try to get tickets to see it live.
IMAGE: Bosc d'Anjou, CREATIVE COMMONS, SOME RIGHTS RESERVED

KNOW WHEN TO FOLD `EM

What a neat idea! Ready folded paper napkins for the hostess with more flair than time on her hands. Available in packs of six, in white or red from Hemtex.
IMAGE: PRODUCT IMAGE HEMTEX 

THE CHRISTMAS RICE PORRIDGE



IKEA has a great bowl for serving the rice porridge, but even if you serve no porridge, and only need a large heavy bowl that doesn't easily tip over on the side (cats? dogs? kids?), the Finstilt bowl is for you. Rustic enough for a cottage and modern enough for urban family homes. 
IMAGE: PRODUCT IMAGE IKEA.COM

SANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO TOWN

Gamla Stadshagen jul 1941

Christmas eve in Stadshagen, Stockholm 1941, during World War II.
IMAGE: Rune Skyllberg (Privat arkiv) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

KEEP LOOKING

Binoculars Illustration (PSF) 

 A few online destinations for a gray Monday. Cozy up with a cup of tea and browse away....

If you read Toast you will love the Northern Sisters Collective
If you read The house that Lars built you will enjoy Helena Lyth
If you love modern Scandinavian interior design you will enjoy Daniella Witte

A LOT FOR A LITTLE

Weronica over at Living by W featured 9 little gifts in the range of 100-150 SEK or the equivalent of 12-20 USD. She included many of my own favourites, but here are six more in the range of 10-20 USD for those looking for a small gesture, something to bring to a gift exchange with a set limit, or for those simply looking for a small Scandinavian souvenir that doesn't cost a fortune. 

Under the walnut tree by cookbook author Anna Bergenstrom finds the perfect balance between Scandinavian modern cooking and global flavours, I refer to it often (sample pages here). Classic coasters from Svenskt Tenn (available as single pieces at the store ) with the Swedish letter Ö, denoting east, a subtle but fun detail. Handcrafted nailbrush from Iris, a great stocking stuffer for the cook or gardener. 

Rustic kitchen scissors from Danish Hay is a good unisex gift for the hipster who unwraps packages from the butcher or wrap gifts with twine. Tiny glass vase with a contemporary Scandinavian aesthetic from Ernstform, great for single stems and green twigs. Scented candles from Bruka Design are available in smoky or clear glass and a wide selection of scents, surprisingly high end despite their price. 
IMAGES: PROUCT IMAGES FROM ADLIBRIS; TINNA; IRIS HANTVERK; AHLENS; LANNA MOBLER; BRUKA DESIGN

LAST MINUTE GIFTS TO SEND ABROAD


If you are looking for something to send abroad in the mail, this is it. A white paper star is the perfect Scandi souvenir that can be hung in the window of a dorm, cottage, castle. Weighs just about nothing in an envelope and is easy to store or throw away after the holiday season. Available at Rusta in a range of versions and colours, with prices starting as low as 0.75 USD. 
IMAGE: PRODUCT IMAGE RUSTA 

CONTROLLING THE CONTROLLERS


Large metal flower pot from H&M Home. Perfectly sized for a small indoors fir tree, but instead I will check it out to see if it is the perfectly sized hide away for remote controls and game controllers once I line it with felt as silencer. 
IMAGE: PRODUCT IMAGE H&M HOME 

CUTE CARD HOLDER

Julekort, ca 1894

"Christmas card," a post card painted by Aadne Stray in 1894, from the collections of the National Library of Norway,
IMAGE: THE NATIONAL LIBRARY OF NORWAY, NO KNOWN COPYRIGHT RESTRICTIONS

SCANDI MINIMALISM


This extra large tray from the Stockholm 2017 collection is big enough to sit steady on the bed with a full breakfast for two, and perfect for turning a foot stool or ottoman into a sofa table. A no fuss design makes it timeless, and easy to stain or paint for those so inclined.   
IMAGE: PRODUCT IMAGE IKEA

WHAT IS THE COLOUR OF LOVE?

About seventeen years ago I was gifted a large Le Creuset pot by my mother, but asked her if I could return it and get one from Anders Petter instead. It was a cheaper brand so she tried to convince me that I was trading down, but I was persistent. I've never regretted it. It is less prone to chip, easier to clean and has lasted through the abuse of kitchen failures of both myself and my husband as kitchen novices. They have updated the look of it since, but I would still recommend it as an excellent gift to someone who is feeding a family. Durable and half the price of other brands, this is a reliable kitchen companion.
IMAGE: PRODUCT IMAGE CERVERA 

HAR DU FYR



CHRISTMAS IS A HOOT


Originally thought as  outdoor decoration for the garden table, this owl in cast iron from Wildlife Garden would also look great indoors during the holiday season amidst green branches and pine cones. Check out their web page for the wonderful range of cast iron sculptures.  
IMAGE: PRODUCT IMAGE WILDLIFE GARDEN

SERVE YOUR NEIGHBOUR



Wonderful salad servers to gift in December, and add flair to the rest of the year. Stainless steel and brass at a good price, from Indiska.
IMAGE: PRODUCT IMAGE INDISKA 

IN THE BLEAK MID WINTER

Mesnavand. Tør Granbusk I

An old glass negative from the National Library of Norway titled "Mesnavand. Tør Granbusk I".
Taken between 1880-1903, by Robert Collett.
IMAGE: VIA NASJONALBIBLIOTEKET

WITH LOVE FROM SWEDEN


Together they would style a room in into a Swedish room for the holidays, but individually they add subtle Scandi flavour to most international settings. Hand printed pillow case, Norrgavel, Platter, Bruka Design, Table linen, Himla, Wool throw Klippan,Glass bowl IKEA, Wooden basker IKEA, Brass tea light holders, Skultuna. 
IMAGES: PRODUCT IMAGES NORRGAVEL; KLIPPAN; SKULTUNA; ELLOS; IKEA

BOOK REVIEW: MONIKAS JUL

Swedish cookbook author Monika Ahlberg made a name for herself as a self-taught baker and  cafe manager at the garden cafe of Rosendal in Stockholm in the early nineties. Her signature baked goods, including a carrot cake with mounds of frosting, were included in her first cookbook, a large coffee table book published in 1994. She has has since penned 21 cook books.

Ahlberg bluntly states in her foreword that it is quite the challenge to convince readers that hers is the complete hand book for a felicitous feast. The competition is fierce. Yet, she doesn't hesitate a second that she will, since her love for the season is unmatched by anyone she has ever known. It is that spunk and self confidence combined with an artistic sensibility and brilliant art direction that has paved the road to quite a few best sellers in the genre. Ahlberg has a unique ability to infuse her cookbooks with personality and atmosphere. She invites readers into her bohemian home, sharing blurry family photos and witty thank you notes from dinners past, or in this case, seasonal greetings from famous friends.

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The home made style of her baked goods along with the colourful mismatched china and rustic ceramics have become part of Ahlbergs trademark. Premium ingredients are treated with respect but never with reverence. Sloppy or artistic plating? You be the judge, but when cooking along with Ahlbergs books your food will end up looking like the photo in the book - or better. And isn't this what intimidates so many of us when we look at cook books styled and photoshopped into perfection? That we can attempt perfection, but perhaps also fail. Ahlberg recipes are well, doable. They're simple to the point where you wonder if cream cheese mixed with jam even counts as a recipe? Ingredient lists are mostly short and uncomplicated, and the instructions to the point.

In all fairness, despite this being one of my seasonal favourites, the recipes I've actually tried have been so-so. Both the buns and cake rolls were underachievers compared to the recipes I usually make, but I am yet to sample the savory dishes featured in the book. However, as far as inspiration goes, this is the first book I pull from the shelves when temperatures fall and I begin to plan for winter, in mid-August or so  (well, this is a Christmas blog after all, what did you expect?). Ahlberg makes contemporary Scandinavian Christmas look like fun, with her updated take on tradition in a mix of festive and casual, sensible and sensual.

As of November 2017 Monikas Jul is available in Swedish and soft cover only. Sample recipes are found here.

Monikas Jul, Monika Ahlberg, Piratforlaget, 2009, 240 pages, ISBN 978-91-642-03014. PHOTO CREDIT: COVER IMAGE PIRATFORLAGET, ALL PHOTOS ©BJORN TERRING; USED WITH PERMISSION

WARM WISHES


Looking for a Nordic gift to a Kinfolk kind of couple? The Icelandic sheep skin available at Granit will make them faint with delight. Then again, so would I. Isn't there something Aslan from Narnia -ish about this particular one?
IMAGE: PRODUCT IMAGE GRANIT WEBSHOP

POT PERFECTION


If you are looking for a timeless addition to your christmas home, consider adding hand made pots from Gysinge instead of mass produced knick knacks. Available in four colours equally perfect for Christmas as well as seasonal blooms around the year. The perfect gift to a friend as well. 
IMAGE: PRODUCT IMAGE GYSINGE BYGGNADSVÅRD

DREAM ON, DREAMER

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Perhaps browsing the plans for the Industry hall of the Stockholm exhibition in 1897 isn't the most realistic ginger bread house planning one can pursue, but it might be the fanciest!
IMAGE: PUBLIC DOMAIN VIA THE CITY ARCHIVE OF STOCKHOLM

RING AROUND THE ROSES


For decades the Swedish advent candle holders sported four candles in a row, but the past five years the trend has shifted to circular ones. There are plenty of more elaborate ones from Rosendahl, Stelton and Georg Jensen, but this plain Jane from Lagerhaus is a great buy if you are looking for a cheap one to decorate with moss, gnomes, nuts or flowers to double as centerpiece through the holiday season.  
IMAGE: PRODUCT IMAGE LAGERHAUS

WEEKEND READS


Foraging has always been one of my favourite activities, but I would like to learn more. Vildplockat gives a structured introduction. Savor Stockholm makes me home sick with its many brilliant photos from the city. It¨s the best free Stockholm guide available, and in both Swedish and English. A whole book dedicated to Swedish buns? Tis the season for carbs. Bullar by Daniel Lindberg. Follow links for sample pages. IMAGE: COVER IMAGES VIA ISSUU

JUST GIVE ME A REASON




Every time I pass by the hardware and home goods store I try to find the perfect excuse to get the soup/salad bowls from Bitz. The proportions are pretty, the glaze looks great. If ours were a single person household it would be the perfect size fruit bowl. Maybe I need a designated bowl for onions and garlic?
IMAGE: PRODUCT IMAGE JERNIA 

DAY OF THE DEAD

Standing stones, Greby grave field, Tanum parish, Bohuslän, Sweden

If you want a text book example of cultural imperialism via commercial mechanisms, consider the celebration of Halloween in Norway. If you want a text book example of how to honour your dead in Scandinavia, consider visiting an ancient grave site. Strewn across every landscape are the typical mounds and stone circles. These standing stones in Greby, Sweden, were painted in water colour by Olof Hermelin, most likely in the 1880s.
PHOTOGRAPED BY LARS KENNERSTEDT

NOVEMBER


The first week in November we remember those who have passed, honour their lives, and light candles in their memory.  A poetic line from an old Swedish folk psalm capture the mood: "Sorrow and joy they wander together".

Image made with the crosstitch generator.

WOODLAND CREATURE CHRISTMAS


This is my kind of Christmas! Throw pillow Skogen from Åhlens can grace your home from October through March, look great in reading chairs, as well as the kid´s room.

KELP ME

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This is my colour inspiration at the moment. Kelp and seaweed under the frozen surface of the sea, mirroring the fading fall colours as nature shift gears from blazing October to quiet November. Photographed in Lauksletta in Troms County, Norway.
PHOTO BY L ORIOL 

TAKING THE TUBE

The boys are learning to light matches and love to cozy up with breakfast around candle light. The  card board tube to hold old tea light cups so they make it to the recycling, has been upgraded from wish list to need list. Made by Swedish FORMAT. 
IMAGE: PRODUCT IMAGE INREDA.COM

KEEP IT SIMPLE


The past few years coloured glass has become trendy, and I love myself some colour in the home. But  there is something to be said about clear glass and its versatility. Two BERAKNA vases from IKEA with is soft curves would look lovely filled with pine cones, perhaps on a moss green table cloth, surrounded by low pillar candles reflecting its light in the glass. Or the other way around, with pillar candles in the vases and pine cones strewn on the table. A great base for a seasonal setting without going overboard with Santas and reindeers.
IMAGE: PRODUCT IMAGE IKEA 

4 GENERATIONS AWAY

People in Kårsta, Uppland, Sweden

The Parish Constable August Ländin and others at a horse and carriage on a country road at Åkeshov, Sweden, in the 1930s.

I am fascinated by photos from this era because my grandparents were born between 1920-1930. This is what the regular and everyday looked looked like to them, though they come from other regions in Sweden and Norway. Imagine the changes in the standard of living they have seen during their 90+ years on earth! Cars, plumbing, washing machines, vacuums, electric ovens, changes in the school systems, a world war, telephones, television, the internet, digitalisation, and the list goes on.

I look at images like these and realise that I get to hold the last hands of this generation, but also bury this generation as grandparent after grandparent passes away, and therefore in some way, this life is as well. It amazes me.

IMAGE: THE SWEDISH NATIONAL HERITAGE BOARD, PHOTOGRAPHER; EINAR ERICI

FALL FAVOURITES


Kastehielmi tray, Iittala / Kaj Boyesen wooden monkey, Rosendahl / Stoneware bowls, H&M Home / Terracotta flower pot, Granit / Rosehip drink, IKEA / Golden leather string, House Doctor / Soap, LA Bruket / Beanie, Fjallraven / Round pen holder, Hay / Stoneware bowl, House doctor / Storage box, IKEA / Scented candle, LA Bruket.

IMAGES: PRODUCT IMAGES FROM IITTALA; ROYALDESIGN.SE; H&M HOME; GRANIT; IKEA; FJALLRAVEN; HAY; LA BRUKET

WEEKEND READS



Packed with some of the best brush strokes of the region, the auction catalogues from Bukowski are treasure chests of inspiration. This weekend I am turning to The Classic Sale – Helsinki Auction from 2013 and 2014 
IMAGES: CATALOGUE COVERS from ISSUU

ODE TO ERNST




This summer I spotted one of the best looking pots I have ever seen as I was standing with my mother on the escalator of Åhlens City. It became my summer gift to myself, because really, why not get a heavy terracotta pot as hand luggage when travelling? Ugh. It still sits at my mother's house waiting for me to come retrieve it.

Mind you, I have never been a dedicated member of the Ernst Kirschteiger fan club, though I have dipped my toe in his pond a few times. When he eventually branched out into design the product line wasn¨t my cup of tea. In the past two years the brand seem to have come into its own with new products and great styling, just scroll down this page to see what I mean.

I visited the shop in shop at Åhlens City in Stockholm and was intrigued by how many of the items I not only approved of, but simply adored. What had looked dead on screen seemed to come alive with its irregular surfaces, colour variations and beautiful proportions to both hand and eye. If you are curious about the Ernst collection, look past the Zoolander portrait of the designer himself and browse the catalogue here. Or better, go have a look.
IMAGE: PRODUCT IMAGE and PRESS IMAGES ERNSTFORM.SE

IKEA WINTER 2017


The Winter and Holiday collection at IKEA is inspired by Iceland and showcases a pared down, more neutral collection than usual. I for one love to see inspirational imaged showing tables the way I actually dress them rather than over the top fantasies. Table settings without tablecloth and only simple white china is underrated. My favourite inspiration-take-away here is placing all silverware on the right side of the plate for a cleaner look. 
IMAGE: PRESS IMAGE IKEA 

CLIMB EV'RY MOUNTAIN

PEM-BYM-00168 Gutter på fjelltur. Happy campers. Tromsø in the faded background.
IMAGE: PERSPEKTIVET MUSEUM

PREPARING FOR WINTER

It¨s the first day of fall break in Oslo, and I'm mending the knees of trousers with the background soundtrack of a dish washer in one room and the rhythmic hums of a laundry machine in another. When my tea is ready, I will take my sewing pile outside and mull over plans for our tiny flower bed. Bulbs? Bushes? Berries? Blooms? The trees surrounding the garden are shifting from green to yellow one at a time, as if they were a colouring book and someone was penciling in each leaf.

September and October are a delight with all their blazing colours. The mountains in the north are never as beautiful as in fall, with intense sunsets burning on the horizon each afternoon. Further south, forests rise mighty and inviting, filled with the sounds of birds and animals fattening up on berries, pine cones and shrubs. In our suburbs, the air smells of apples, pears and plums, cut grass and fall flowers. First graders are wiggling loose teeth, and the older kids race to school in new rain gear.

And there is still day light. The skies may be gray, but the days are not dark yet, so Scandinavians savour the lingering light.

Welcome to another season on the blog.

MUSIC FOR FALL

In the sidebar you can find our September playlist on Spotify. Enjoy!

WINTER IS COMING










Welcome to new readers and returning visitors! We are well beyond halftime a.k.a midsummer, and according to the old viking calendars, winter arrives in about two months. October is also the official season premiere of the blog, so bookmark us, subscribe to bloglovin or visit our pinterest boards for pre season inspiration.

The Scandinavian summer was mostly lukewarm and rainy this year, so it seems fall has arrived early with chilly nights and spectacular sunsets. Enjoy the crayfish, moon eclipses, harvest season and floral abundance of fall, and we´ll see you soon!

WALK IN THE LIGHT


Today is Kyndelsmӓssodagen, and Christmas is officially over, but in addition to the catholic symbolism tied to this day, the sun has also returned to the polar regions. The polar night is finally over, even in Svalbard.

WEEKEND INSPIRATIONS


Have you visited Svenskt Tenn's new and improved webpage? Don't miss the "Inspiration" tab with new rooms every season. Available in both a Swedish and an English version.

THIS! How I long to visit Ulriksdals tradgård every time I go to Stockholm, and my web browser history proves it. Since I usually travel alone with kids, it's been about nine years since my last visit. Imagine that! Nine!

The Grand Hotel in Stockholm recently underwent a major renovation. The gallery showcasing their muted interiors are a delight.
IMAGE: GRAND HOTEL STOCKHOLM, WEBPAGE

HOME EC 2.0


Hemkunskap is Swedish for Home Economics but the literal translation is "Home Knowledge". I am fully capable of feeding my family, but it is time to up my game in the kitchen. When a chef boasting two Michelin stars publishes a book about simple home cooking basics, I cetrainly expect it to elevate our week day dinners. Sample pages at Bokus
IMAGE: BONNIER FAKTA PRESS IMAGE

IT'S CLEARLY WELCOME BACK

I'm STOKED about the re-launch of Limelight by Kosta Boda. The glasses are the icons of the collection, but I adore the pitcher and the vase for roses. 
IMAGE: PRESS IMAGE KOSTA BODA

WEEK FOUR

Tulpanbukett i vittImage from page 506 of "Norway, Sweden, and Denmark: with excursions to Iceland and Spitzbergen ; handbook for travellers" (1909)

The first month of this year is unusually warm in Oslo, but with the characteristic gray skies and icy gravel strewn streets of most Nordic urban winter days. I linger in the midwinter darkness, the cozy feel of wool blankets and resist the urge to welcome spring too soon. In a week or so I will begin to introduce white and green in the home again, to welcome the light. But not quite yet.

In the desperate attempt to declutter prior to a move six years ago I threw away the old maps I'd been saving to have framed.  I'd torn out the original print from a book in an even earlier attempt to declutter. This was one of those maps, printed in 1909, and I miss it terribly. Perhaps it is time to admit to myself that I never grew up. I am one still of those who adore the treasures others call clutter.

IMAGES FROM TOP TO BOTTOM: BLOMSTERFRAMJANDET, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED, USED WITH PERMISSION. MAP OF STOCKHOLM FROM THE INTERNET BOOK ARCHIVE 

IT'S A CATCH



January, a.k.a. the bleak month post Christmas, is said to be the poorest month of the year for most Scandinavians. So here's a budget friendly tip: the coat hangers in iron that we bought for our hallway are a steal at JULA.
IMAGE: PRODUCT IMAGE JULA WEBSHOP

GOOD NIGHT MOON



Much like the Chinese I name each year after an animal. Well,sort of, I name it after a room...or a project area.

2017 is the year of the bedroom. This is the year we'll establish better bedtime routines, ban late night netsurfing, upgrade bed linen and bedding, get cozy sleep wear and in short: sleep well every night and wake up rested and bright every morning.

One can at least dream, no?

Above, muted tones and timeless design from Åhlens, which I am considering for the children's room. But it might be the 2013 fall catalogue from Mille Notti that will be my style guide on the journey towards a bedroom where good sleep abides.
IMAGES: PRODUCT IMAGE ÅHLENS; (ABISKO)