Sunday, November 18, 2012

November, November

Dreary, grey November is here.  This is my third November in Sweden although I've only lived here for 2 years.  I moved here in November 2010, so there's your answer.  When the darkness comes, as it is doing now, I don't mind it much.  I've actually tried to embrace it, and I think I've done well at it.  It's a neat happening as it's so different from my native Ohio.  Sure, it gets dark earlier in Ohio during the winter, but probably around 5pm at the earliest.  Here, it's currently getting dark around 3:30 or 4 at the latest.  In December, it will be dark an hour earlier or so.

What really gets me, at least right now, is all of the grey dreariness.  The sun almost never shows its happy, smiling face during November.  When it's daylight, I would rather see the sun for the few hours that it is up instead of just the giant covering of grey clouds that never seems to go away.  Half the time it's raining, too.  Blah to November weather!

Luckily, being an American, I have Thanksgiving to look forward to!  No, the Swedes don't celebrate Thanksgiving, but I make sure that a few Swedes celebrate it each year, at the very least.  I simply cannot let Thanksgiving come and go without cooking and celebrating it!  The food is just too good to pass up.  This year we'll be going back to Tibro to J's parents' house and cooking for them and a currently unknown amount of guests.  We'll have Thanksgiving on Saturday, December 1st, but better late than never! His parents are going to invite some aunts and uncles and cousins and we'll see who shows up.  At most I think it should be around 12 folks so I shouldn't be too bombarded regarding cooking!

Yesterday J and I went to the big ICA Focus here in town right next to Liseberg.  It was our first adventure there.  I had heard, however, that they have the biggest American food section of any store so I had to go.  It wasn't marked at all as the American section, but it very clearly was!  It had Hershey's chocolate sauce, American candies like Reese's, bacon bits for salads, Swiss Miss hot chocolate, French's mustard, Jell-o and the list goes on and on.  I was so tempted to buy so much of it, like the mac n cheese, but everything was so expensive due to being imported.  The reason I needed to go there was to purchase cranberry sauce and pumpkin puree.  I got both!  We also happened to buy a box of strawberry jell-o to share with the family (I love sharing the little bit of American "culture" that I can share).  We'll see how the cranberry sauce's canned.  Last year and the year before I made my very own cranberry sauce from frozen berries as I couldn't find sauce anywhere, but this year I thought I'd go a bit more traditional and lazy (the way I'm sure many Americans are regarding cranberry sauce).  Now that I have my pumpkin puree I can make a pumpkin pie for dessert.  Yay!

Last week J and I sold our 2008 Opel Astra and bought a barely used 2011 Opel Astra Kombi (or station wagon in English terms).  Neither of those links are the real cars we had/have, but they look exactly like them.  2008 isn't very old, only 4 years, but the inspections had begun on the car which of course cost money (the first 4 years of a car's life it doesn't need inspected in Sweden to be roadworthy).  But also as a car ages you have to spend more money on maintaining it and J is not one for needing to spend money on a vehicle.  He'd rather have a newer one and have lower costs on it.  This new car, after all is said and done now, costs actually just about the same or even very slightly less than our old car.  The insurance costs less, it's better on fuel consumption, and actually the loan costs about the same.  So yippee! says I.  In case you don't know me personally, I am very, very fond of cars.  As you can see in the pictures, you can tell how much of an upgrade the new car is.  Opel has really come along these past couple of years.  It's got 140hp instead of the 116 our old car had, and it has 6 gears.  It's a much nicer ride, and is quite practical with all of its loading space.  All of the extra technological features also feel luxurious to have.  So far, we are loving it!  We're even considering a road trip possibly next weekend just to take it out.  J has been to Skövde and back, but I've only gotten to piddle around town with it.  I'd like to see how it does on long distances.

I'll try and get some pictures up of the real car!  Perhaps next weekend if we do go on a road trip we'll take a ton more pics and then I'll have some more interesting picture material to post again.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day!

I just got home from being out in the lovely couple degrees above freezing (and raining) weather for my mail job.  Suddenly I am super pumped about the election!

Sadly I can't stay up all night and watch the returns as I would have liked to have done, as I am working again at 7 in the morning tomorrow.  I will, however, get up just a bit earlier than usual and see the results (at least the ones so far).  I also plan to at least watch a bit tonight as I'm sure there will be something to watch before going to bed!  I'm very happy that even in Sweden the US election results and commentary will be playing here on SVT1.

One thing that I have enjoyed and am glad about is how engaged Swedes seem to be in American politics.  Of course, this is for purely selfish reasons as I actually have had people at work to talk to about politics and the election a bit.  It doesn't surprise me, in reality, but it's somewhat of a pleasant surprise for lack of better words.  In the US we never talk about other countries' elections.  That just never occurred in my experience there.  But here I have a few people at work I've talked to quite a bit about politics and the election and this and that.  It's also quite fun to answer their questions about things they aren't so sure on.  They do, though, seem pretty informed as to how the whole process works compared to their own.  Kudos to the Swedes for being internationally well-informed!  I know this is just from my tiny little perspective, but from what I've seen it seems the Swedes I've met are much more in tune with the world than most US citizens.

I will be holding my thumbs the entire evening and probably when I wake up tomorrow morning!  If any of you readers are in the US right now and are citizens, please go vote! Every vote counts!

Monday, November 5, 2012


Just a small side note.  There is something I've noticed lately and I wanted to comment on it before I forgot about it.

Whenever looking at myself in the mirror, say when brushing my teeth in the bathroom, I don't only see myself in the mirror anymore.  I have a theory that this is born of the distance I've put between myself and my home.  Whenever I look at myself in the mirror, I see not only myself, but I see even moreso my parents.  At first I thought nothing of it.  I attributed it to "growing up", you know being an adult, and seeing more and more of my parents in me.  Now, though, it happens so often (several times daily) that it just now got me to think differently about it.  I think that because I so rarely see my parents, I've begun to see them in me.  I'm not accustomed to seeing their faces anymore.  If I saw them regularly like when I lived in the US, I wouldn't at all see them so often in myself.  I never used to, anyway.  However, I truly do resemble both of them when I look at my face.  It's not just that, though.  When I look at my hands I see their hands, too.

My question to you other expats out there:  has this occurred to any of you?  Or is this just some little oddity I've found in myself since moving abroad?  I'm quite interested to hear you what you have to say!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Great Catching Up Part 2

I figure that I have kept you all (yes the many millions of you) waiting long enough!  I just have to muster up the energy to post and this morning I seem to have woken up with it.

The wedding day, as I'm sure most wedding days are, was a bit hectic and pretty much a blur.  The first thing on our plates was for my mom and I to meet up with my good friends M and W so they could keep us girly company while we got our hair and makeup done.  I decided to go with M's hairdresser, and she did not disappoint!

After the hair and makeup we picked up my bouquet, J's bouttoniere and I also ordered smaller corsages for both my mom and J's mom.  It's apparently very rare to order corsages for the mothers here in Sweden, so they didn't at all turn out like those giant American style mother-of-the-bride corsages.  I was happy about that, though!  We headed back to J's parents' house, got dressed for the big day, then commenced a photo shoot!  We did not hire any professional photographer as everything happened rather quickly, but we also have the good fortune of knowing a couple of friends who are quite wonderful at photography and have their own awesome cameras with all the attachments.

Before you knew it, it was time to head to the renovated bygdegård where J's brother and fiancee operate their catering/show business.  At 18.00 (6pm) is when the mingle began, so J and I had to wait in his brother's house until 18.30 (6:30pm) to sneak over to the main building for the ceremony.  That was the only nervewracking time for me.  I just couldn't stand the waiting!  I'm not at all one to be the spotlight or center of attention, so it was driving me a little bonkers to sit there waiting to be the center of attention walking down the aisle and all that jazz.  I just wanted that part to be overwith!

When the time came, however, it was absolutely magical.  Everyone who set up the wedding for us (thank you thank you! to J's mom, dad, siblings and all the rest who helped!) had surprised us with bubbles as we walked into the area where we were having the ceremony done.  As it was evening and dark outside, the place was lit up with wonderful mood lighting, and with the bubbles it was instantly magical.  The ceremony we chose to do once in English and again in Swedish so that everyone attending would surely be able to understand.  Even then, it only took about 10 minutes tops.

Long story short, the meal commenced and then some show tunes by J's brother and fiancee and of course some speeches ensued.  J even surprised everyone (including me) with singing to me "Your Song" by Elton John!  It was a perfect day and night.  As stated before, the only thing that could have been better was if more of my family and friends from home were there.  Here is just a tiny, tiny taste of the whole experience.

There you have it!  I think each photo explains itself.  The night ended with just a few of us left (it was, after all, a Wednesday evening).  J and I headed to our hotel by the lakeshore and that was that!

The next day followed with meeting back up with J's family and my mom at J's parents' house (I should now say my parents-in-law), opening wedding gifts, running around Tibro collecting discs and cards loaded with wedding pictures, and finally heading home to Gothenburg.  By the time we got home we were tired out!

The last 3 days of my mom's visit were nothing super exciting the way the whole first bit was with being in Stockholm and preparing for a wedding and all.  We showed her around Gothenburg, took her shopping in the lovely Haga area, and even took her on a ferry ride from Klippan all the way to the other end at the Lipstick building.  She really enjoyed it!  Early Monday morning I took her to Landvetter and we said our goodbyes.  It was rather a whirlwind and went by so quickly!

As far as my life since...well that will have to continue in another episode of The Great Catching Up.  A sneak preview - it's not all that exciting, just life back to usual!