A family affair: Ascension weekend in Sweden

19 05 2013

My only chance of spending some time in Sweden this spring / summer was last weekend, which was a long weekend for most Europeans. We were looking forward to spending time with my family and to meet M, V’s new cousin! My parents, my siblings and I decided that it was time for a family weekend at the summer house!

Before departure at Brussels airport: We thought that letting V run around would tire him enough to sleep on the flight… nope! Not even the car ride back to my parents’ place made him fall asleep! He eventually crashed with us at midnight. Oh well, he is after all half-Spanish!

Two boys who were completely oblivious to the cameras… We had waffles elevenses (elvakaffe) with my parents’ former neighbours and their son O, one of my best friends, and his family from Norway. Their daughter is 5 days older than V but she was having a nap while the boys were playing with the tractor!

V wasn’t too impressed with the swing my parents put up for him 😩 In Brussels it is almost impossible to find a baby swing in a playground for some reason!

The old beach toys!

But what are some plastic toys to a 20-month old boy who loves REAL POWER TOOLS? My father and O spent two days building a fence and a gate to keep the new family members inside the garden, and guess who wanted to help!

I guess it would have been quicker if not one of the two carpenters always had to keep the little assistant from assisting too much…

I wonder if the kitchen utensils will be as fun next summer as they were now and last summer?

Wow! Grand-dad connected the tv to youtube so that V could watch “El vals del ocho” with Miliki on the big screen! O doesn’t think that it is too early to start with the multiplication table 😉 and V loves the song (waltz?) of the number eight!

I finally finished my present to my nephew M who turned 7 weeks last weekend! A quilt in green and white…

Some of the patches: the old shirt of Brysselkakan’s son, the curtain fabric of SunnySwede’s son’s bedroom in England, my parents’ first curtains in our first home, my paternal grandmother’s napkins with her initial, an old shirt of mine, a nd some of the fabrics that my aunt used to make a quilt for my sister as a baby (+ various new fabrics)

A little pulling help from daddy – uncle D’s old car!

Good morning! V woke up at 05.30 every morning as we slept in the living room with too many windows to cover up from the early Scandinavian summer morning sun… O, V and my mother walked to the beach to play in the sand while the rest of us got to sleep in (maybe not so much the new parents in the guest house!?)

The turban was not a hit with V! I had just bought a new cap and a sun hat but of course we forgot them up at the house…

The Baltic Sea! There were actually sunbathers on the beach and some kids playing in the water!

The traditional ice cream stop at the kiosk!

Before heading back to the summer house to pack the bags and start to say goodbye…

A knackered boy after a long weekend full of attention and playing with the Swedish family! In the evening we went to Copenhagen and V was once again full of energy again until we all went to bed at 23. We got up at 04.30 to catch the metro to the airport and he slept the whole flight back to Brussels. Too bad that we still haven’t received our suitcases due to the 4-day long baggage handlers’ strike at Brussels airport!


A 24 hour birthday spent in Malmö

18 03 2013

Due to my long blog paus, I haven’t shown any photos from our two weeks in Sweden over the Christmas holidays. It’s now been a while since my sister turned 30 but I just came across the photos from the birthday celebrations as my parents are coming to Brussels on Friday and have been taking shopping orders from the rest of the family. Apparently my sister-in-law really liked a cheese that we ate while celebrating my sister and now we are trying to figure out (among the methods to remember was looking at photos!) which one it could be (maybe tomme de savoie, one of my favourite cheeses!?).

It wasn’t easy to find a birthday surprise activity for a 30-year old which should also accommodate a 7-month pregnant woman (my sister-in-law, due in one week!!), a 16-month old and be available on the 1st-2nd January when a lot of restaurants, hotels etc are actually closed! And not to forget the weather in January… In the end my father and I decided on a programme that we hoped the rest of the family, and especially the birthday girl, would enjoy. I think we succeeded quite well!

1) check into a hotel in Malmö on New Year’s day. The 7Âœ of us took the train to Malmö without telling my sister the final destination.

Scandic Hotel S:t Jörgen was a great option – the newly renovated hotel rooms are much fresher and nicer than on the photos (!!! it seems that they have actually updated the website since then…) and it’s smack in the middle of the city on the main pedestrian street.

My sister’s photo
2) Organise an impromptu pre-birthday drink in the biggest hotel room as most restaurants in the city were closed on the 1st January! We brought cheese (see above…), wine, champagne (I think it was cava actually), grapes and snacks. Music was provided with an iPhone and V danced for us.

3) Yummy hotel breakfast with all the trimmings, including gluten-free bread and muffins for my sister-in-law and a play room for V, who of course thought it was more fun to run around the breakfast room and talk to other guests… (his speciality is to walk up to strangers and just stare at them – at the airport in December he actually looked so longingly at a woman’s sandwich that she asked if she could give him a bite… poor starving boy)

4) Check out from the hotel and walk for 15 minutes to Malmö castle (Malmöhus) which hosts Malmö museums

5) Visit the exhibitions, including the fish finger (fiskpinne)  😉 Sign says: “With its rectangular shape the fish finger is adapted to freezers all over the world”

6) Try to keep track of the 16-month old… he really liked the stuffed animals! The rest of us liked the temporary exhibition of old school posters (see photo on my sister’s blog) and some of us [female family members] enjoyed the one on 1920’s fashion. We’ll save visiting the famous submarine for when V is a bit older!

7) Have a delicious lunch at Årstiderna in the Kockska house (the oldest house in Malmö if I am not wrong, which our grandfather helped renovate in the 1960’s). Bring entertainment for the youngest family member…

Finish off the day with some shopping before heading home. The birthday girl ended her birthday with cocktails at the Grand hotel in Lund but that’s another story.

My sister has also written about her birthday on her blog

Something Swedish…

25 10 2012

I have never really understood what is Swedish about this bread that we buy in Colruyt (almost like Costco in the US, just almost…), but it’s quite nice:


My mother found this in our small supermarket around the corner, water from the small village in Sweden where we have our summerhouse:


According to the sign it is the oldest bottled water in Sweden as it originates from rain water that fell 5000 years ago. The sign contains one incorrect fact though, the village is not on the south-west coast of Sweden but the south-EAST coast. I don’t think that many Swedes have heard of Malmberg’s water but we know it from the restaurants in Åhus (the closest town) that serve it, and we bike past the company on our way to the ice cream factory (Ottos)…

You might recall this photo of something else reminding me of the village where our summerhouse is:


The Summer Library

17 08 2012

I read in Ikea’s blog Livet Hemma about the summer library: What a self-respecting book case in a summer house needs to contain, and I immediately got a wonderful feeling of summer:


    • at least three binoculars (nope, but we have a web-cam that is hooked up to the home server and O is currently spying on us from Spain (which makes my sister feel very uncomfortable!))
    • a board game that nobody’s remembers the rules to and which brings out the worse loser in the family on a rainy day (check!)


  • an old camera with a not yet developed film still inside (I found my old pre-digital camera in our move and my father just got the film developed – what a blast from the past, 2004-2005!)
  • old paper backs from a flea market (check! I bought old Penguin books a few years ago in flea market + old children’s books from the local library’s clear-out shelf)
  • an old leather-bound encyclopedia (semi-check! my parents have bought a three piece encyclopedia but it’s not leather-bound and not old)
  • a faded wild mushroom book (does the 2009 Whiskey bible count? 😉 )
  • We also have a collection of Midsumer Murders dvds, old and new cook books (including my mother’s home economics book from the 1960’s) and an old “cross word dictionary” etc.

What does your summer library contain?

Fun fun fun, according to some… (and has anybody read the Björn Ranelid book?)

Did we ever play the board game “Utmaningen” (The Challenge)??

Summer is not over yet…

15 08 2012

I keep reading on Swedish blogs that summer is over, that it is “late summer” (sensommar) and people feel that autumn has started!? I am sorry, but NO!!! Summer is definitely NOT over yet! I understand that for Swedes who holiday in June-July, and for whom the schools start this week or next, it might feel like summer is over, but I beg to differ. First of all, because V and I and my sister have holidays, and second of all: it is going to be 28 degrees on Sunday!

V and I arrived last Friday to Copenhagen airport and took the train to Lund where we stayed with my sister. She made a bed for V in her Ikea foot stool but in the end he slept in the bed with me (and she on the sofa)

On Saturday my friend L who lives in the south of France and who just happened to be back in Sweden right now as well came to my parents’ place with her 2-year old daughter and French boyfriend. It’s difficult to get a 1-year old and a 2-year old to look in the camera at the same time! (not to mention their mothers!)

Somebody tried to access the computer but used the wrong password…

… and then googled “xdddd” – I love the first result: “2. A type of computer chat phrase commonly used by people who spam the keyboard for no reason”. V, does it ring a bell?? 😉

Barbequed wild boar and butter-fried chantarelles (“handpicked” from the supermarket)… yummy!

Breakfast in the garden

And once again I protested when my father told me of his plans to cut down the old plum tree, and once again he got annoyed with me! Yes, I can see that the trunk is almost hollow, that parts of the tree are not very healthy and it doesn’t give fruit but it is not dead yet and I think that old trees are beautiful… but ok, it is his (and my mother’s) tree!

My sister absolutely loved “Ta mig till havet” by Peter Lundblad when she was 4-5, and she still does 😉

We took the scenic route to the summer house, “turning left in Önneköp towards Hörröd” as our father suggested

V gave me his cold last Wednesday and I have had a week of blowing my nose until it was bright red 😩 but I am finally feeling better! My sister’s Swedish summer playlist on the iPhone also helped

Ah, finally at the summer house! We got here on Sunday and will stay a week (spent last night in Copenhagen though)

A June Week in Sweden – seen from a 9-month old’s perspective

1 07 2012

This is bad, bad, bad! Am I only blogging once a month?? Unfortunately I just don’t seem to find the time to sit down and write more often 😩

This week my aunt is visiting us, and last week V, O and I were in Sweden, and what did we do before that…? Well, I went on a one-day shopping trip to the UK with three other mums (American, Irish and Swedish), and oh yeah, I have been working  [half-time in June – it has been fantastic!] and V has been going to the creche (except for 20 days in May when he was ill, plus the week before we went to Sweden)… We are hoping for a visit from my parents in July, maybe a long weekend in Spain and then we are off to Sweden again in August. And I am back to full time work on Monday 😩

V tried sleeping in my old crib for the first time and he slept ok… until around 04 when he woke up because it was completely bright in the room. The blinds in the window facing south are quite useless as there is a window without blinds facing EAST… He also played with some of my and my siblings’ old toys!

And helped “mormor” (maternal grandmother) unpack the food in the summer house…

The bed rooms in the summer house are not better prepared for the summer sun rising early in the morning… On Midsummer’s Eve morning V and I went for a walk to the beach at 06, I dipped my toes in the water [while V had a nap in the pram, how cheeky!], walked along the deserted roads in the summer house neighbourhood, saw squirrels and rabbits, picked up the newspaper from the mail box, bought newly baked rolls from the baker’s trailer (open from Midsummer until end of August) and then played on the deck until my mother and sister woke up. And yes, V can crawl AND stand up wearing his “sleeping bag” (he looks like Maggie in The Simpsons).

Played with daddy who joined us on the Thursday evening before Midsummer’s Eve

Midsummer’s Eve was celebrated for the 5th (only 3rd time for me) year in the summer house together with my parents, siblings and random friends…

You know how you usually pull a face after drinking snaps (vodka)? Well, those of us who drank the alcohol free snaps pulled faces as well… Euck! It smelt like snaps but tasted like… flavoured water.

The pickled herring from Äspets rökeri (smokery in Åhus run by a Dane called Jesper) was delicious! I made meatballs with some red pesto I found in the fridge, quite good if I may say so myself 😉

Who needs toys when there are lots of fun things to be found in the kitchen?

and you can practise standing up – moving around with the help of the handles on the kitchen drawers (but you get a bruise on your chin if you lose your grip / balance…)

Nobody got so drunk that they ended up under the table at the party, but V liked the floor with the heating (and so did those of us who opted for the half of the table that was indoors!)

Midsummer day breakfast

Maybe some of the kitchen cupboards should be child proofed as daddy can’t block the door all the time…

Some more 70’s toys!

Life under a table… V still sometimes get stuck under the tables, especially when he tries to stand up under them and hits his head, panic!

Not really beach weather, but fingers crossed for our return in August!

SkÄnsk spettekaka

Belgian waffle “cakes”

How many prams have V and I tried by now? My parents’ lovely neighbours gave us TWO old prams, so we have one in town and one at the summer house!

Another kitchen, different handles and drawers but also good for support 😉 We went to Älmhult, the Ikea town (village?) in SmĂ„land and met up with Marianne and her husband. O was really pleased to visit the original Ikea before it closes down later on this year, and to talk to an Ikea man! I was just very happy to meet with Marianne again, a dear blog friend. And V, well, he was happy with the kitchen layout and all the plastic containers in one of the drawers!


13 01 2012

Don’t tell my mother-in-law but V is sleeping outside at the moment. As Swedish children do.

NB. I am sitting by the window and keep checking on him to make sure that he is not too cold and that he is not awake…

PS The retro pram is a loan from my mother’s cousin, I think that my second cousin is 14 so it should date from 1997-98.