31 March, 2010

convenience food

For your viewing pleasure (?!?)
A collection of random photos I have taken of grab-and-go Swedish food:

A dairy case at a convenience store. Also of note: packages of blueberry and rosehip soup. I tried nyppon soppa (rosehip soup) for the first time a few weeks ago. Not so awesome. But I was told its packed with antioxidants and fiber, so its soup-er when you are sick. Your tastebuds don't usually work as well when you're sick, so that makes sense.

Caffe latte-flavored Swebars at a gym. Haven't tried them yet. Think I'll stick to Clifbars.

T-bana vending machine (consequently, they don't call it the "T" in Stockholm, ever. I don't get why not. I call it the T.)

That is a shrink-wrapped apple. In the vending machine in the T-bana. Not sure how fresh it is, but hey, its a step in the right direction! And to price it, 8kr is just over a buck.

The Big Corny. It speaks for itself.

28 March, 2010

daylight savings

Today is the last Sunday in March, and we stayed out until 3:30am (or was it really 2:30? or 4:30?) and slept 'til nearly noon to observe the time change in Sweden.

A little history: DST didn't become permanent practice in Sweden until 1980. They tried to introduce the time change in spring and autumn in 1916, but it proved so unpopular, they reversed the decision within 6 months. Since the 1980s, most of Europe and North America changed time on the same date, until under the last Bush administration, in an effort to conserve electricity, the Energy Policy Act was enacted and in 2007, the DST period was lengthened by about 3 weeks in the US (2 weeks earlier in March, 1 week earlier in October.) So, for the last 2 weeks, we have only been 5 hours different from you east coast folks.
We are back to a 6-hour difference. Sleeping until noon might seem extreme considering how few hours of daylight we have had until recently, but now, the sun won't set until after 7:30pm. And it only gets later from there! We earned it this winter. Seriously.

A related interesting fact: Iceland does not observe DST, neither does most of Asia, the countries of the former Soviet Union, large chunks of the African continent, nor Arizona or Hawaii.

26 March, 2010

Stalking the Ambassador sounds harsh

Stu and I went to an art opening last week at the Milliken Gallery. We've been to several openings there, but it seemed especially crowded last Thursday (or maybe it just felt claustrophobic with all the incense they were burning to complement the wierdo art on view?) And there were a lot of guys in suits, with those little FBI-looking earpieces. Like I have mentioned, we watch a lot of Burn Notice, so maybe I was just especially sensitive to spooks...you never know, there could have been a Russian-Swedish arms deal going on right under our noses under the guise of an art exhibition?
Anyway, we were chatting with some friends, and I guess it was crowded enough that Stu stepped on some guy in a suit. The guy was nice enough about it, though we noticed a little nerdy-looking and wearing a pin on his lapel with an American and Swedish flag. It took us a sec (okay, it took us several seconds) to realize the guys-in-suits must have been security for the American ambassador to Sweden. I remembered I had read that the gallerist Aldy Milliken (who is American) had very recently curated the collection for the ambassador's home.  Ah ha! Stu and I thought, "So he is American, WE are American, obviously he likes art, we should meet this guy!" But a moment of opportunity as good as Stu stepping on him didn't present itself a second time, so we just left and went home.

Last night, the galleries at Hudiksvallsgatan were opening new shows, and I promised Stu free wine after he impressively hauled 2 heavy bedside tables home for me from a Blocket puchase. And, full disclosure, I really wanted to check out the WhyRed pop-up clearance sale happening yesterday in the same complex...let's face it, I can't afford WhyRed designs unless they are at a pop-up clearance sale.

We were in Nordenhake Gallery, taking in some cute but bizarre story concocted by an artist who seemingly wanted to live in a rubber suit under water, when we saw the spooks again! And the nerdy man wearing the Am-Swe flag pin!

Sometimes Stu and I can communicate full conversations with very few words, so we made a nearly non-verbal agreement that there in that gallery, possibly next to the rubber aquaman suit, we would not squander another opportunity to step on this man and make his acquaintance! And we did. I forcefully invited myself into his conversation when he was talking to the gallery manager (yes, I did that. Rude, I know.) said something stupid about his bodyguards and immediately made him shake my hand and told him my name. He was quite nice, Mr. Matt the Ambassador. We chatted for a few, he introduced us to his lovely blonde wife (whose name is Brooke, btw) and I introduced him to my dashing husband. And that was about it. But we met the Ambassador! In my research figuring out who he was, turns out he is an internet big shot (founder or something of C-Net?) recently appointed to his position, and he moved to Stockholm the same week we did.

The rest of the art we encountered was okay. The WhyRed shop had some cute stuff, but still too expensive for poor students, even at pop-up clearance sale prices. And with a little wine in our bellies, we went on a silly late-night hunt for places still serving waffles, walked all through Vasastan, downtown and Stureplan, and we still didn't get waffles on Våffeldagen! We made it up to ourselves this morning intercontinental-style, with walnut bread French toast.

25 March, 2010


Today is officially Waffle Day in Sweden. Celebrating is simple: you eat waffles.  I am told it morphed from a celebration of "Vårfrudagen," Our Lady's Day. It sounds similar to Våffeldagen, so why not celebrate Our Lady's immaculate conception with heart-shaped waffles, whipped cream and berries?

23 March, 2010

Spotted: magazines

Maybe you'll think I'm ridiculous, but even so, I'm ridiculously excited...Vogue, Cosmo, Elle, Glamour, Marie Claire IN ENGLISH at the Pressbyrån next to SSE.

As I waited outside after work for Stu tonight, I perused the selection of magazines, and was surprised to see that they had at least half a dozen of the UK version of some of my fave girly magazines (the kind I only would allow myself to buy in airports.) Jinni (Stu's mama) randomly had an Us magazine with her when she came to visit, and I practically wore out the pages I was so excited to read it.
I haven't seen these types of magazines in English in Sweden! They do have Vogue and Elle here in grocery store aisles, but of course, they are in Swedish. Too bad the UK versions cost from 50-89 kronor a pop ($7-$11.50.) I can't wait to get back to cheap magazines when we visit the States in June. 
Its the little things, really. 

22 March, 2010


Horse-back riders in Djurgården

If I had blogged on Saturday, I would have said something optimistically cheesy like "Spring has sprung in Stockholm!" It was a glorious 45 degrees out. Um, yes, that is warm for here in March...I don't want to hear it, 78 degree DC people. I got to switch to my cute new coat I got in London for warmer weather. 
The sun was out. And the people were out. Thousands of them! Stu & I went on a 3 hour walk through Djurgården, upper and lower. There was still snow out in the fields and forest, but the sun was quickly taking effect on it. We went to a dinner party in Midsommarkransen Saturday night (BTW, lovely little suburb...I would live there!) and everyone was talking about what they did *outside* that day. 

That, my friends, is moving water!

It was a fantastic Spring day, fittingly for the first calendar day(ish) of Spring. If I had blogged on Saturday, I would have been convinced we were over the hump of winter and it was all downhill coasting 'til summer.

But Sunday, Mother Nature kindly reminded us that we live in Sweden. Thank you very much. It was a blizzard! Back down below freezing, and snow. all. day. long. No sun. We left the apartment exactly once, when we determined it was safe because the snow flakes had shrunk to only Rice Krispies-size rather than the Wheaties-size they had been.  Most disappointingly, the roofs were blanketed again, and I was just remarking to Stu about how excited I was to SEE the roof again after months of snow & ice...the buildings in our complex have such a lovely color palate.

Today, I am back to optimistic. Its about 37 degrees and the sun is shining. I finally got rid of our Christmas tree this afternoon (I know its March! I don't want to hear about it, either!) I found a super, super cheap copy of the most-popular-ever Swedish cookie recipe book Sju Sorters Kakor while I was out buying toilet paper. And the House passed a monumental health care reform bill in the US. That is something to be optimistic about. 

21 March, 2010

Water, water...

One of the things we love about living in Stockholm is the clean drinking water. We even have our free Stockholm Vatten calendar which tells us about how clean our drinking water is. Think of it, you can just drink what comes out of the faucet! I love it. But it's not usual for me, coming from DC, which let's face it has had it's problems. So for me, it's like living in a magical land.

However... "Clean" takes on a interesting aspect when you consider, what's in the sewage. (What a way to figure it out. Aren't you glad this isn't your job?)

I think it's funny, but strange: that there's cocaine in the sewage (but, not as much as Oslo...) in a city that espouses clean living. Lord knows what's in DC's water.

18 March, 2010

St Patty's Day

We weren't quite sure what to expect with Swedes and St. Patrick's Day. Its a "holiday" most Americans celebrate with relish, even if they aren't one ounce Irish. Interestingly, in DC, we try to avoid Irish bars on St. Patrick's Day since they are always so packed. Last year, we found ourselves at Commonwealth, a British pub at Columbia Heights. But thankfully, like Halloween, the Swedes have absorbed it in fine form. The free local paper was filled with ads from Irish-y bars announcing they were opening early for all-day celebrations, music, and lots & lots of Guinness.

In what I hope becomes a tradition in our household, Stu made a fanta-bulous from-scratch Shepherd's Pie. I'm so proud of him. 
After several helpings, we didn't manage to waddle out of the house until about 8:30, and most of the friends we were meeting had gotten to the bar many hours before. We headed out to Gamla Stan to The Liffey, an extremely popular Irish bar, even when its not March 17th. And what did we find?
Yes, that is a line, more than a dozen people deep. 

So we decided to try O'Connell's just down the street. They had live Irish music. And also, a line:


I don't like to wait in line. I appreciate Sweden for its penchant for queuing; it makes life more organized. But when it comes to a line for a bar or a club, I'd just as soon go elsewhere. So Stu & I decided to skip the Gamla Stan options and go meet other friends at The Limerick in Vasastan.

Yep, you see correctly, also a very long line. For the third time!

Great that there is Irish spirit in Stockholm! But its still cold in Stockholm. And, as I mentioned, we don't like waiting in lines outside. So in true Anne & Stu fashion, we ended up at a non-Irish bar on St. Patrick's Day, The Man and the Moon. It might even be British? Its just around the corner, and I had wanted to check it out for a while.

Its quite a nice little place. I'd go back. And the best part: no line, no crowds, no crazy drunk people (well, there were a few potentially inebriated people wearing giant foam Guinness hats.) We both enjoyed an over-priced Murphy's and called the evening a success.

This is Stu, conquering a giant snowmound in the name of a successful St. Patty's Day. And next year, we'll try to get out earlier. Or go to a Mexican bar.

16 March, 2010

I'd steal them too

Stu & I lived in DC before moving to Stockholm. The Nation's Capital. We lived in a cute, colorful neighborhood straight up from the White House backing up to the zoo, but Friday and Saturday nights from 8pm to 3am, it was on the list of neighborhoods where you were most likely to get mugged (or worse.) We had a good friend get his car stolen once only to find that he could not get it back because it was used in the commission of a felony...the kids who stole it shot a cop while riding in it. I never felt especially in danger, but still felt relieved in moving to Sweden, where the number of violent crimes in the entire country is less than the number in the tiny city of Washington D.C.

So, you know, having lived in, say, a somewhat thuggish city like DC, I got a kick out of this interesting article from The Local (again, the English version of Swedish news.)  It seems that in the south, a group known as the Black Cobra Gang pulled off a daring attack on a delivery man and made off with precious cargo, namely, over a hundred boxes of almond tarts, punch rolls, apple crowns and brownies.  We have also been watching a heck of a lot of the show Burn Notice, so maybe I'm also in a daring international spy sort of mindset, but just imagining how the heist went off to obtain a few dozen boxes of Swedish baked goods made us roll with laughter.

You should really read the whole thing, because its also another example of the spectacular word-smithing of The Local journalists (the thieves cut a hole and "liberated its irresistible cargo"?)

14 March, 2010

Sundays are awesome

Its not the Sunday Washington Post (I'm a sucker for Sunday ads) but whenever Stu has stuff to do at school on the weekend, which he did yesterday, he brings me back an Int'l Herald Tribune. There is something so satisfying about Sunday morning coffee and reading a paper newspaper, and in English. 
We've got dough rising for kanelbullar, I think we'll do a little window shopping in Söder, maybe some yoga. I <3 Sundays.

13 March, 2010

a little art & medicine in Stockholm

What a nice week. For the most part, it was slow (jag var sjuk) and sunny. We received an awesome care package from Nina & Todd, and she sent me a bag of only the best chai in the entire world, from a lovely little tea house in DC called Teaism. I really miss their bento boxes and salty oat cookies, but the chai is wonderful. It made being sick easier. Like medicine! Which is good because I used most of the Theraflu we brought over. *That* stuff is like crack.

I felt like I had a pretty inspiring end of the week. I went to several places I had never been before, and encountered art and ideas I hadn't known about.  Stu & I skipped Swedish class Wednesday night to attend a lecture at KTH by Dr. Hans Rosling. KTH is the Royal Institute of Technology (Kungliga Tekniska Högskolan.) We live quite close, as in walking-distance, but I had never been on campus before. Its large, and everyone else there is a hundred times more clever than I will ever be. Including Hans Rosling. He actually works for another big Stockholm school, Karolinska institutet, the well-regarded medical school on the other side of Stockholm where everyone else is also a hundred times smarter than I will ever be. His research relates to international health, and the man knows how to make statistics interesting and how to spin even the most dismal information into something that makes you wants to DO something about it. I had moments of why-is-my-country-so-stupid (the US) while at the same time feeling like wow-we've-come-a-long-way. Anyway, he is an incredibly dynamic speaker, and I suggest checking out some of his Ted.com lectures.  The second one is a doozy, if you get to the end where he strips off his shirt and swallows a sword!

Thursday and Friday were both quite long. We had lectures on curatorial tools with the head curator at Magasin 3, met with gallerists at Hudiksvallsgatan to discuss commercial gallery practices, then sat in on a thesis-planning session with art students at KKH, another school I had never been to. The royal college of art (Kungliga Konsthögskolan) is situated in a beautiful space next to the Moderna Museet, on the water, and everyone else there is a hundred times more crafty, arty and more stylish than I will ever be. It was nice to be talking with and working with artists! I guess I have not been as proactive as is possible in this town in meeting artists (there are a lot!) but my program is also pretty insular, in that we talk to a lot of curators and museum people, but not as many of the people actually creating what we will one day be displaying and writing about. Anyway, I hope to get over there more often to talk to art students about their work.
Thursday evening, we had a seminar at the Schefflerska palace on Drottninggatan, better known as Spökslottet, the Ghost Palace. Apparently August Strindberg coined that, and since he lived around the corner from it, maybe he knew things-that-go-bump there intimately. We live around the corner from it too, technically, but not close enough to determine whether he was right. If you are interested, I can tell you some more of the rumors in another post?
Anyway, Spökslottet owned by Stockholm University (when my mom attended, it used to be located there!) and houses a large and interesting art collection. They refuse to support it as a museum, so its now mostly used as a administrative office space and as a receiving place for important guests of the university. There is a curator, a woman who has been caring for the collection for the last 30 years, but its not open to the public and the university does not see it as important that the Bruegels and Tintorettos it owns be available on loan or for research. A bit of a tragedy, really. I could see liking working there, though. We've looked at so much contemporary art with this Curating Art master's programme, that it was refreshing to see some old dusty stuff.

I did not take a single picture of the Rosling lecture, KKH, Hudiksvallsgatan or Spökslottet, but I took several today at Bonniers Konsthall. We popped over to see the Tomas Saraceno show. Its fun...if you live in Stockholm, go see it.


10 March, 2010


So, we just went for a walk in the sun. And in fact, we've had consecutive days of sunlight... In a row.

I think I appreciate it in a whole new way now. I'd heard of the March sunbathers. That is, that when sun-starved Stockholmers get some rays in still frosty days of spring while still bundled in winter coats but maybe removing gloves or hats to expose some skin. Yup, saw them on the steps of Kulturhuset lined up with the pigeons. And sure, it's funny, but I mention it with a large degree of empathy. That when I see the beaming faces soaking in the sun, now I do it with another layer of understanding. I feel ya.

Anyway, now the ice is melty (which is not quite melting, or melted) but it makes the sidewalks more navigable. Also, new observation: I give elderly people who are still out on the streets more cred. I'm scared I'll break a hip out there, and I'm relatively young and surefooted. Maybe they know some icewalking tips that I could learn?

As we wondered through downtown, Anne and I ended up retracing our steps from one of the first walks that we made through the neighborhood last summer. It was nice to have the perspective of almost 9 months in our new home. And the changing of the seasons really does give a new insight to how the city moves, lives and breaths. Now that spring is here I can't wait to get the snow out and the summer days in. For those of you playing a copy of our home game: 37F is what has unhinged my musings. Yeah, just a little above freezing, and a lot more sunlight than 3 months ago is all it takes.

How soon till the ice melts on the river? Didn't capture it on camera, but there was a man walking his dog under the bridge. Takes some courage that, as I just found out about the special ice-picks skaters wear to claw their way out in the event of a spill into the deep.

08 March, 2010

Picture post

A few pictures taken from the couch-- I was sick this weekend (still sick, really) so we took it super easy. Our living room ceiling & sad little lightbulb hanging from a mess of outdated electrical wires, Stu's make-shift footstool, our fireplace with his wedding ring left for safe-keeping during a yoga practice:


We couldn't NOT get out a little, though. We had so much lovely sun this weekend.

I even got Stu to agree to go into the Marimekko store. He didn't like the one in Silver Spring, but had to concede that the Stureplan store did it better. I wanted to buy everything.

  We did a lot of walking. I forgot sunglasses, but was somehow  okay with that.   
There are half a dozen new exhibitions I want to see, but we went to the Moderna because thats just where we ended up. And I was hungry and I like their cafes. 
I tried to get a photo of the Lee Lozano show doors closed from the inside because it looked like we were IN her mouth, but people kept coming in.

I never noticed the crouching statue before she was surrounded by snow. I kind of love it. And thats me, wishing I could also own the chairs we were sitting in. 

06 March, 2010

This is weather.com's forcast for the week. And yes, we're pretty happy to be seeing weather above freezing. Where, you say? We count zero as above freezing aparantly. We're optimists. And Monday's big ol' 1 degree, that's nice to see...

One thing we've also done is gotten on the metric train. (Which the US official adopted by act of Congress in 1975) It's part of going native.

But mostly, it's the sequential chain of yellow circles which contributed to a brightened mood. It's nice to see some sun around here. We went for a long walk in today's cold but sunny day and it's a nice payoff for forgetting what sunlight looked like in December. Six months of it. Nice.

05 March, 2010

Tack så mycket, GI Bill

We got some small but good news on an otherwise kind of crappy day!  Way back in the fall, Stu applied on a whim for GI benefits from the US Army. We weren't holding our breath, because Stu left the Army in 2003, having served his 4 years, paid off his undergrad loans, and said 안녕히계세요 (he was a Korean linguist, so "annyeonghi gyeseyo" is Korean for "goodbye").

But he got an envelop in the mail today saying they had processed and approved his request for post-9/11 education benefits!  Now, yes, his education has no tuition, because we live in Sweden, where higher education is free for all (well, until 2011 that is!) So the biggest benefit of tuition reimbursement is moot, technically. BUT, they give you a monthly housing allowance if you have dependents (hellooo, that's ME!) and a yearly book stipend.

It ain't much, but on a day where and I had classes on philosophy, meetings on the questionable direction of my program, and an EXAM in Swedish, and Stu had a crap day overall, it was nice.

We are going to see Alice in Wonderland tonight to celebrate.

04 March, 2010


I am doing it again. Procrastinating. I am in my last week of anything having to do with the philosophy of aesthetics for the foreseeable future (hooray!) But for class tomorrow, I am supposed to be read what is a surprisingly accessible article by Kendall Walton called "Transparent Pictures," which discusses how we see through photography (believe me, its not so simple!)

Anyway, because procrastination is my superpower (if only it could be used for good!) I have been shirking the reading in favor of seeing pictures, but online. It could be considered background research, right? I read a LOT of design blogs online. I love the pictures. In fact, I don't read it if it doesn't have pictures. One of my favorites for cute and clever and interesting stuff is Design*Sponge (the editor used to be a writer for Domino Magazine, if you remember that fabulousness.) And this week, there was a post about Swedish food packaging:

Pretty great, huh? Check out some of the others from the D*S page. I thought the little cut-outs posing with the grocery store items were cute.
The "Bregott" is basically margarine, the "Fiber Havregrytt" is a porridge of some sort I think, the blue tube called Kalles with the perky-looking kid is actually caviar, and the "Falksalt" is, you guessed it, a brand of salt. In the corner, you can kind of see a little yellow carton of something called "Messmör."

I took a few pictures of our carton of messmör, because its weird and deserves some explanation (the counter looks awfully dirty in this picture. I blame Stu.)

The stuff is the consistency of a soft butter, but super sweet and with an indescribable tang. Its made from whey, and is big here because its low in fat but high in calcium and iron, so its seen as pretty healthy. The Swedish kids I nanny for LOVE this stuff. When I first started, I lamented about not being able to find decent peanut butter in Stockholm, and the mom just shrugged and said they were a messmör household. I admit tasting it for the first time last August and thinking WTF!?! *This* is what these kids eat instead of peanut butter? Torture! 

But I guess it grew on me, because now its in our fridge. I prefer it schmeared on bread or wafers and sprinkled with cinnamon. I checked out the Fjällbrynt website before posting, and they actually have some interesting recipes, so maybe one day, you'll see a Messmörkaka post?

03 March, 2010

Happy March!

With Xynthia, March came in like a lion here, so praaaaay the saying holds true in Sweden, and it will go out like a lamb. Like a warm, sunny, snow-less, ice-less little lamb.

We still have lots of snow on the ground, and its still super cold. But today was (nearly) all sun! It even inspired me to do a little yoga this morning, which I'm embarrassed to say doesn't happen too often...its hard to motivate to do sun-salutes when there is no sun to, uh, salute. I guess I should have been better at lighting candles--a tactic employed vigorously in Scandinavia to combat the dark and SADness (that and tanning beds on every other corner.) But with us gaining more than 5 minutes each day of light, I'm hoping to do a lot more yoga soon. Is there a Hindu lamb god? If so, I should pray to him...

01 March, 2010

Eff you, Xynthia. Alex came to visit anyway

This weekend, we got above freezing every day. Sunday was even 3c! I haven't seen those temps here since December easily. Things got foggy, mushy, melty, gray, and snirty (snow + dirt = snirt.) Then Xynthia came to Sweden. She had already killed about 50 people over the weekend in Portugal, Spain and France with her deadly winds and flooding rains. But for Stockholm, she only had snow and snow and snow in mind.

Today sucked, weather-wise.

I think she's done now. But crappy timing, since our friend Alex came this weekend from Paris, and it was her first time visiting the "Venice of the North." She even got diverted from Skavsta to Arlanda when she arrived Friday because of the weather (why doesn't that ever happen to us?!?)

But we managed to have a great time. Alex and I grew up in the same town (she comes from a family of librarians, too) worked together at the National Gallery in DC for a while, and she is now living in Paris while getting an extremely affordable MA in Museum Studies from the Louvre, also working as a nanny. So it was nice to catch up, share ex-pat experiences, commiserate over being a student again, culture shock, European oddities or things we woefully miss from home.

In particular, we slept late, window-shopped, made muffins that made Martha Stewart look like a Costco Sample Lady and watched a shload of American TV (neither easily found in Paris) and indulged in lovely French cheeses, chocolates and wines she brought with her (potentially found, but not easily or cheaply, in Stockholm.)

Stu and I both start new subjects this week, and with new classes comes more work. But it was nice to take the weekend off to show Alex around, and she will just have to come back when Xynthia isn't causing roofs to collapse and tricky iced-over lagoons to form on Odengatan (and really, "Xynthia," what kind of name is that even?!?)