I love how warm the sunset looks after a big snow storm.
In early November we moved the furniture around and put our table where the couch used to be and made my new favorite place is our house.
I love sitting next to the window when we eat, or blogging like I am right now, and being able to look out at the scenery. Much to the chagrin of Mr. H I keep making jokes about how lucky we were to get such a good window seat because it really makes me feel like I am in a restaurant or hotel. I also love it that since we are on the second floor people can not see me as easily as I can see them!
We now have the window decorated for Christmas which is making it extra cozy and with our sunsets falling somewhere around 2:30 I can have the Christmas lights on all day!
This is the other window in the living room, I took this picture last night and now the snow is piled up so high on the windowsill you could not see the light from outside!
There is much debate about the difference of an expat and an immigrant. Is using one better than the other, is one more accurate, am I using the wrong one all the time?
Now I am going to get all college term paper on you and give you some definitions from Merriam-Webster:
1. banish, exile
2. to withdraw (oneself) from residence in or allegiance to one’s native country
: to leave one’s native country to live elsewhere; also : to renounce allegiance to one’s native country
a person who comes to a country to live there
With those definitions in mind it seems that I can use either one accurately. But I often feel out of place using expat due to blogging which is just silly right?
One of the reasons I feel out of place in the expat blogging niche is that we do not travel. If the blogging world is to be believed all of us who have left our home country are gallivanting about to new places all the time and are travel experts.
Know what though, I am not a travel expert. I have been lucky enough to see many European countries but that was before I even met Mr. H and moved to Sweden, so sure Bailie circa 2008 knew a thing or two about travel but I am sure there is more up to date info out there.
Since I permanently moved to Sweden in June of 2011 this is where we have traveled:
Belgium – for our 1 yr wedding anniversary
England – for a friends wedding
California – to see family
Not all that exciting is it! And I am totally happy and fine with it because I did not move to Sweden to see every tourist destination within a 3 hr plane ride radius. I came to Sweden to set up life with my husband and take the occasional vacation as any other Swede would do living in Sweden.
And that is why I think that dictionary definitions aside and current cultural definitions at play I am firmly in the immigrant camp. When my grandparents emigrated from Germany I am not sure what they planned to see in the US but as far as I know in addition to California where they live they saw Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah which are all a easy drive from California.
So am I jealous once in awhile when I see people going to super awesome places, of course I am but I am also happy that they were able to go somewhere and have a wonderful time and hopefully it was a great experience but that their everyday life is wonderful as well.
So like many pilgrims, expats, and immigrants before me I am simply living a normal life in a new place.
Do not worry though if we get the chance to go somewhere awesome I will let you know!
This year will be the 6th Christmas Mr. H and I celebrate together and over the years we have developed a few traditions special to just us and our Swamerican (Swedish & American) holiday season.
One of my favorite traditions that we have is spending the week between Christmas Eve and New Years Eve playing games, specifically whatever Lego video game came out that year, and partaking in drinks and snacks.
This year Mr. H came up with the brilliant idea of The Christmas Pantry Cupboard.
For the last month he has slowly been collecting treats and adding them to the Christmas Pantry which is located in the special cupboard above the refrigerator common to Swedish homes.
It is the perfect spot because it is up high and for now only contains the special Christmas week items. As of today it contains:
Two bottles of Julmust – a special soda that comes out at Christmas time in Sweden
Beer – they are all special edition Christmas beers that have procured from Systembolaget, some being special orders like the Port Brewing and Ale Smith ones
Beef Jerky – from a care package by grandparents sent
Pepparkaka – a Swedish Christmas must have, similiar to a gingersnap
Lindt truffles – A small bag of assorted truffles we picked up yesterday at the store
Juleskum – these are a marshmallow type of candy that are vaguely Santa shaped (if you are in Sweden and never tried them you should)
It has been really fun picking out things to go in the Christmas pantry and since we have spread out the spending this way we have been able to buy things like the Lindt truffles which would normally be out of or normal shopping price range.
Also since we are once again celebrating with just the two of us it has amped up the excitement of the holiday season since we know there is so much yumminess to be soon had!
I keep telling him it needs more treats though and he keeps buying more beer so my mission this week is to balance it out!
What would you add to your Christmas Pantry Cupboard?
On Saturday Mr. H and I did our own little Thanksgiving which we affectionately dubbed our Start of the Holiday Season Party!
We started with appetizers which I was so happy about as I am always moaning about how I never have an occasion for dip! I made spinach dip and a meaty queso style dip which we had alongside salsa, elk and moose smoked sausages and tortilla chips.
It was quite a bit for two people but we managed to eat all the queso and sausages!
We were very lucky my grandparents sent us a Thanksgiving care package that had the makings for green bean casserole, turkey gravy, stuffing mix, cranberry sauce and a few bonus items.
After having all the appetizers though we decided to save the stuffing for another day, or more accurately I convinced a slightly tipsy Mr. H that was the plan but I really want to eat it all one day all alone as stuffing is just the best thing ever! We also saved the cranberry sauce to use over Christmas as we had an open jar of lingonberry in the fridge which is almost the same.
So that is how our Thanksgiving meal ended up being grilled chicken breast, mashed potatoes, gravy, and green bean casserole.
It was really yummy and we ended up with just a teeny bit of green beans as a leftover!
After dinner we opened up the second bottle of wine and watched the Gavin & Stacey Christmas special to get us in the mood for Christmas!
After all my homesickness having a fun indulgent day really helped clear it away and now I am ready for some more fun nights in preparation for our holiday week celebration. That is one of the perks of having a husband in school is that he has the whole week between Christmas and New Years free to party!
Can you believe it is December 1st, last year December 1st came with frantic wonderful snow and this year we have these blue skies and it is making me nervous about our snowy Christmas I have been imaging.
Reading: Today I finished “The Cat Who Played Brahms” by Lilian Jackson Braun. I like these sort of fun silly detective books and I think I will start another this afternoon.
Writing: Christmas notes to be sent out tomorrow but I am not having any illusions they will arrive for Christmas so if they do it will be a pleasant surprise.
Listening: To the Manchester United game commentary, if it is in English I like the sound of it in the background as always feel a bit cozy to hear sports on Sunday.
Thinking: How much I love our giant living room windows that let me take pictures like the one above without going outside.
Smelling: Myself! It is now past 2 and I have not showered but Sundays are for being lazy right?
Wishing: It would snow, this is going to be my third consecutive Christmas in Sweden and I am really like when they are snowy since it is so different from an Orange County Christmas.
Hoping: That the roast defrosts in time for dinner and I cook it properly as it is my first time doing an elk roast!
Wearing: Yoga pants, old tank top and the comfiest slippers ever. My grandparents sent them to me and I love how they are like socks but grippy on the bottom, I have worn them every day this week!
Loving: Everything we have planned for the next month and a half and that the presents I ordered for Mr. H are on their way!
Wanting: Bacon but the store is much too far away for me today!
Needing: Chapstick, we drank a bit last night and so my lips are so very chapped.
Feeling: Happy, Happy, Happy!
Clicking: Through places we might go to next summer and the list is getting quite big and will sadly need some culling before we head out.
When we were in San Francisco this summer our hotel room had a great view which is where I took this picture. To take it I opened the sliding door the room had and Mr. H and my brother had the biggest fit and were sure I was going to fall out so they were trying to hold onto me and so I only was able to get a few shots.
I do love looking out my windows at home and seeing forest but there is also something very magical about a big city view.
Most people say they have the best husband right. Well at least they should be able to say that but do you ever wonder when you see all those things on Facebook if they just feel the need to say it or if they actually mean it?
What I always think when I see those things is, “no you have the best husband for you and I have the best husband for me”.
I mean if your think your husband making you a fruit smoothie in the morning makes him the best I have to say to me it would make him the worst because I cannot stand fruit, all blended up or otherwise.
With that in mind yesterday Mr. H surprised me with a wonderful array of things from the grocery store. He knew I was feeling down so on his way home he stopped at the market and in his own words tried to find all the actual American things he could to buy me!
I ended up with a Budweiser, a can of root beer, Oreo’s, iced coffee mix, batteries (ok those are universal and I just needed some for the camera), vanilla ice cream to make a root beer float if I wanted, and an Advent calendar (which also is not just a US thing but we always get them and they were on special).
We had the beers, he got one for himself too, with dinner and ate a few Oreos which were yummy and I went to bed thinking that I really truly must have the best husband!
As I said in my post yesterday I was having a huge case of the homesick blues. When we went to bed Mr. H fell asleep pronto like normal and I was laying in bed torturing myself with images of my family all gathering at my grandparents and on and on when a thought popped into my head.
I am a Pilgrim.
Alright so I am going with the history I remember learning as a kid in elementary school and I know is the very basic and probably not horribly accurate Thanksgiving story but it is the one ingrained in my head and what comforted me last night.
So like the Pilgrims I left my home for the idea and promise of a new life which for me would be better. I knew it would be a hard, long, and scary journey but it was something I believed in even when those around me thought I was being idealistic or stupid.
I have now settled myself into this new place and while I am just one person my house is a small colony of America where I love to share my traditions and food with the friends we have here. I also have Mr. H, a native Swede, to teach me about my new home and its traditions and together we can forge a new wonderful place even if that is just in our home.
Ok so do you get annoyed when bloggers are all “so sorry I have been gone” and “I want to blog but am feeling stuck”? I do sometimes but you know what that is how I feel, this is the third time today I have opened up WordPress and this time I am not closing it without a post!
So I thought I would do the Sunday Currently even though it is Wednesday and everyone is all being wahooo Thanksgiving (nope not feeling bitter at all that my family will all be together being warm eating good food).
Reading: Today I just finished Command the Morning by Pearl S. Buck, it is the fourth book of hers I have read in the fall and it was wonderful. If you like history or more specifically war history I really recommend it. Also it was the last of her books that I was able to get through the library in English so I have to move on to a new author now.
Writing: A list of which Christmas presents are done and which I need to get finished.
Listening: To 30 Rock, we have been watching a lot of heavy shows like The Killing so I was in the mood for something silly.
Thinking: That I am now used to snow this time of year and I am so bummed it is taking so long to get here this year.
Smelling: Sleepytime tea, well not like the Celestial Seasonings one but one that reminds me of it and I do not know the Swedish name of it and I am too lazy to go in the kitchen and check.
Wishing: That it would be Saturday faster since that is when Mr. H and I are doing our own Thanksgiving and the two bottles of wine in the kitchen for the occasion are getting hard to resist.
Hoping: Everyone likes the Christmas presents are I am sending them, I like them and I really hope they do too.
Wearing: The perfect cotton pj jammies bottoms that are striped and a striped sweater from GAP so it is all about the stripes up in here!
Loving: The peanut butter you see up there in that picture, my grandparents are the best and sent us a Thanksgiving goodie box and it also had peanut butter which I am rationing out so it can last more than two weeks!
Wanting: Snow, so I already mentioned this but where the heck is the snow?!?!!?
Needing: Even more candles, the sun is setting around 2:30 which means it is full on candle season.
Feeling: Out of sorts, sometimes these bouts of homesickness come from out of nowhere and are just way too hard to shake.
Clicking: On pictures of turkeys that are making me drool and sad.
Well it was great to get typing again and sharing some thoughts that are whirling around my head!
If you are celebrating Thanksgiving tomorrow with family and friends really value it and I will be sure to share some pictures of our Saturday celebration!