Sunday, September 29, 2013

100 posts

Nearly three years later and reaching my 100th post.  Yes, it took quite some time to reach 100 posts, but I've finally done it!

Summer came, and went, as it usually does here in the North.  But what a lovely summer it was!  As some say, the third time is the charm.  This was my third summer here in Sweden, and finally we had what was the closest to a real summer here in Sweden.  It got warm, and stayed warm! And sunny! There was hardly any rain!  Which we are now paying for in the fall season.  It's been getting noticeably darker and cloudier these past few weeks.  I'm saddened by summer leaving.  I think a large part causing that sadness is that, here in Sweden, there isn't nearly as much to look forward to in autumn.  Almost nothing, really.  In the States we have Saturday college football (or NFL if you prefer that league..on what, Sunday nights? Monday nights? Apologies, I don't follow NFL).  You also have Halloween to look forward to, and not long after that is Thanksgiving!  If you have the same traditions as my family, you even have a trip to the apple orchard and the pumpkin patch to look forward to - hot cider drinking and all.  But here in Sweden there is nothing to curb the angst that darkening days and falling temperatures call forth.  You know that winter is coming and that it will consume the next 5 months or so.  That's nearly half of the year!  To combat this, I hold steadily to the tradition of cooking Thanksgiving dinner each year.  The past two years I cooked for J's family in Tibro.  This year we'll be holding a get-together with some dear friends here in our new apartment in Gothenburg, killing two birds with one stone in having them to see our new (owned!) apartment and celebrating Thanksgiving.

I pretty much breezed over the entire summer there in just a couple of sentences.  Where did we leave off? Oh yes, Midsummer.  Well we then moved on into July and made a trip to Norway which was enjoyable.  It's always great getting out of the country - I love to travel.  We basically did a reprise of last year - grilling out, playing games, fishing and of course socializing (the weather this year was just as sunny and beautiful as last).  What's exciting is that our Norwegian friends will be visiting us in November for Thanksgiving! How great to be able to see them not only once this year but twice. =)

Eventually in August we had two weeks of vacation and spent the first weekend of it in Tibro, the rest of the first week here at home in Gothenburg and then the second week we went to Cyprus!  It was so lovely to get out of the country again and into some real heat!  It was so hot.  And by hot, I mean it was 38-40C (100-105F) every single day.  I'll admit it, it was almost too hot.  I only say that because you could hardly be bothered to do anything during the day. We stayed in a wonderful, luxurious adult hotel (age limit 16+) that did not sit right on the beach, thus resulting in J and I only visiting the beach twice during our stay.  We opted most often to laze beside the lovely, serene pool on some sun chairs (and J always under an umbrella - he's like a vampire when it comes to the sun).  This also happened to be our very belated honeymoon trip, hence the luxurious adult hotel. I will add, though, that we did go on a boat excursion one day!  We were able to see basically the entire southeastern coast of Cyprus by boat.   The water in the Mediterranean is beautiful, however, I would still argue that the Caribbean has it beat hands down.  This from my little experience of seeing Cyprus to compare it with the Riviera Maya in Mexico.  On the boat excursion we even went swimming twice, one of the time snorkeling.  Here are just a few shots from the boat adventure.

Since coming back I resumed working as a mail carrier, and not much has happened since.  Life goes on in our little corner of the world.  I'll allow this to serve as a catch up on what our lives have been up to and try to start posting more often as done in the past.  I (still) have all sorts of thoughts about living abroad that I surely should be able to write on here so as to paint a more colorful version of life here.  Until next time...adjö!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Summer is off to a start

Yes I'm still alive and kicking.  I think I've come to terms with the fact that writing here on my blog just won't happen as often as it once used to.  Life has a sense of normalcy about it now that I've been living in the country for nearly 2 years and 8 months.  It's difficult finding new and interesting topics to speak about.  Some of you may have noticed that I use the blog more as an update for those across the pond who may still wonder about what I'm up to over here. =)

Swedish Midsommar just passed this weekend.  J and I spent it in Stockholm, as mentioned previously.  We picked up our good friend O on the drive there, and thankfully we got to take the faster highways back to Gbg since O took the train home a day earlier than we wanted to come home (he came back on Saturday, we left Sunday morning).  It was a bunch of fun!  I always love getting out of town and getting out of the normal routine of things.  We have a few friends who live in the country's capitol, so we decided to spend Midsommar with them, celebrating in some of the traditional ways.  We devoured a lunch of pickled herring that came in jars resembling these, along with boiled new potatoes and sour cream and chives along with onions if you desired.  During this lunch you also tend to drink snaps, which is called nubbe, tastes pretty awful in my opinion and comes in a variety of flavors.  Later in the evening we grilled some meat and ate a big, fresh salad with it and finished off with rhubarb pie and vanilla cream for dessert.  Yum!  We did not, however, go find a maypole and dance around it on Midsummer Day.  Instead, we decided to enjoy beautiful downtown Stockholm and ate lunch in Gamla Stan.  We finished off Saturday evening by playing a board game called Settlers of Catan (first time for me, I'd heard a lot about it, and it ended up being quite fun!), and devouring fresh Swedish strawberries with cream and sugar! Mmm!  Here's a single shot I took while walking over the water on our trek from Gamla Stan to Kungsholmen.

Even on a cloudy day I find Stockholm pleasing to the eye.  The buildings and all the water are just beautiful.

Thus has summer truly begun!  Midsommar was the first major event I was looking forward to and it felt so nice to get out of the daily grind here in Gothenburg and see some friendly faces we hadn't seen in quite some time.  It felt like a mini vacation and that it was much needed!  Luckily, in a little less than two weeks we're headed to Norway so I have another big event to look forward to this week and next!  I suppose I feel like I need these things to keep me going through the summer as so many are now on vacation and it feels a bit "bleh" to be working all through the summer until mid-August, and then "only" getting two weeks where many take four, five or even six at a time.  At least at work it should be pretty easy going now that so many are on vacation - not so much mail to be delivered!

That's just a quick update to keep you all in the loop!  This weekend nothing is on our plate (thankfully, we've had nonstop busy weekends for many weeks in a row now).  I plan to finally start clearing out what we don't need to bring with us for when we move in one month's time!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Summer already?

Spring did spring.  All week it's been above 10C (above 50F) and it's felt wonderful!  I actually read in Metro, the free newspaper, that yesterday was possibly the official start of summer here in Sweden!  If I recall correctly, the Swedish meteorologists consider it to be summer when the national average temperature is above 10C for five days in a row.  Yesterday, supposedly, was supposed to be the fifth day.  The only downside this week was that yesterday, here in lovely Gothenburg, it decided to pour buckets of rain all day, and that was not fun to deliver mail in.  I wear my rain jacket when going to and from the area that I deliver mail to that day if it's raining, but otherwise I take it off while I'm running in and out of stairwells.  It just gets too hot and cumbersome!  A nice construction man offered me his rain jacket when he saw me absolutely soaked yesterday, and I explained that I had a rain jacket and that it just gets too heavy.  He responded with, "Yeah, it gets kinda gross!"  It made my day that he had thought to offer me his jacket!  I thanked him several times, all of this occurring in Swedish, of course.

Today is a "red day" which is what Swedes refer to as holidays.  It is Kristi Himmelfärdsdag, which can be translated directly to something like Christ Heaven Journey day.  No one really knows (at least when I ask) anymore what the day is about, but they have it as a holiday each year and no one works.  It's clearly a remnant of a Christian holiday, and my best guess would be that is has something to do with the passage of time past Easter, in regards to Christ's return to heaven.  In any case, as today is Thursday, most people will just take tomorrow as a day off from work and make it a nice long 5 day weekend.  Not J and I.  Tomorrow we'll be back at the grind.  It's only one day, though, so think of it as we can two Fridays this week!

News!  J and I bought an apartment!  We'd been talking about it for quite some time, and thinking seriously about it since autumn.  We'd just decided that we're paying the same amount of money to rent this little 1 bedroom apartment that we could instead be paying on apartment that is much larger which we can own.  Of course we'll be downgrading in regards to location, in my opinion, but the area really isn't bad.  We'll be removing ourselves from Strömmensberg/Munkebäck here in Gbg and settling over on Hisingen in Backa.  It will be nice this time around not moving to an entirely new city that is a couple of hours away.  We can take our time and move at a more leisurely pace rather than all at once.  Our new place is a 2 bedroom apartment with a balcony (yay!) and has a lot more space.  Currently we have only 50kvm (roughly 540 sq. ft.).  The place we'll be owning has about 82kvm (roughly 880 sq. ft.).  So we hope to move in by the end of July, and if not, it'll have to be sometime in August.

This summer is shaping up to be quite exciting!  Although I'll be working for all of it except 2 weeks (whereas many Swedes get a good 4 - 6 week chunk off), there are a ton of activities on our plate.  For Midsommar in June we're planning to go to Stockholm and visit some friends.  Then in early July we've been invited to go back to Norway (I wrote about our trip last year in this post).  It was such a blast I most certainly want to go back again this year!  Then, obviously, as I've just informed you, we will be moving in between the Norway trip and our honeymoon to Cyprus.  Now that I type it all out, it's occurring to me that the summer is shaping up to be expensive, as well.  Such is life if you want to enjoy it!  Luckily I'm working all summer, so that will help in the expenses.

Last week, Wednesday was also a red day.  Tuesday was Valborgmässoafton, which occurs each year on April 30th (I mentioned it last year in this post).  This year was the first year that we finally went and saw what it was all about!  Well I'm sure J had been to Valborg events before, but I hadn't (and this was my third year being here to be able to go see the bonfires).  There were several locations offering giant bonfires and fun stuff like hot dogs and hamburgers with live music here in Gothenburg.  Some places were more kid friendly offering face painting and jumpy blow up castles, but we decided to go to the location closest to where we live.  We went down to Härlanda Tjärn where there was a big bonfire with live music (the band was good and fun to listen to!).  Plus they were selling grilled hot dogs and hamburgers, but J and I had already eaten dinner, so we passed.  Without further ado, here are some shots that I snapped!

There were a lot of people!  They were always coming and going, too.  I had to capture the pretty little lake, too, as it was so serene.  That's the same lake that I mentioned in this post last year where we went swimming.  I think we'll have to wait a few more months for the water to warm up enough to swim in again ;-)

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Spring is ever so slowly springing

Spring is coming quite slowly to Sweden this year.  It's already April 14th and yet we've only had a couple of days reaching up towards 8 or 9C (upper 40s F).  We have had plenty of sun lately, though, for which I have been very thankful.  At night, though, the temperatures keep dropping back down below freezing.  Just on Friday it was actually sleeting during my bike ride to work.  It wasn't pleasant, as sleet in the face on a bike going downhill is rather painful!  It had snowed over night, as well.  Luckily, it rained throughout the day and melted the little bit of snow that had accumulated.  I suppose with all this chatter about the current weather what I'm really trying to say is that I'm ready for spring!  It's mid-April already, let's go Sweden, get with it!

In any case, I took a couple of shots yesterday when I first saw these lovely little snödroppar (snow drops) in our back yard.  They are usually taken as the first sign of spring, as they are the first flowers that usually pop up out of the spring snows, hence the name.

I was so excited to see them I whipped out my phone and ran over to crouch and snap these shots.  J simply continued to enter into our building without waiting upon me.  Alas, he's not so delighted with nature and signs of different seasons as I am.

Speaking of J, this past week he officially accepted a new job!  He will be working at Göteborgs Universitet (Gothenburg University) in their library as a production engineer.  Engineer, library?  I know it sounds odd, but they need help converting their entire library into a digital one.  We're so excited!  I think the job fits his profile quite well and that he'll be quite happy in his new roll.

In other good news, we also finally booked our honeymoon trip this past week!  I know, I know, we got married last September, how have we not even planned or taken a honeymoon 'til now?  I guess it just hasn't been very possible, we've been busy bees working.  We did at least go on a short Pisa, Italy weekend trip back in October.  This time, though, we'll be spending a lovely week in Cyprus in mid-August.  This is the first time I've ever booked a "fancy" hotel and I am super excited!  It's also an adult hotel, that is, the age limit is at 16 years of age.  No one younger is allowed on the premises.  I wanted this kind of peaceful and relaxing environment for our honeymoon.  I am usually the advocate of saving a buck and going with more budget options and not minding children running around, but this is our honeymoon after all!  I figure for once in our life we could indulge a bit. I've always wanted to go to the Mediterranean, as well, so to put it simply, I'm excited and very much looking forward to August.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

February, March and into April...

Lots has happened since my last post.  For the first two weeks in March I went home to the US.  It was a bunch of fun!  I'm sure I will post more about it later, but I just felt the urge to write a small little interlude post so that you all (if there are any of you left anymore =) know that I'm still alive and kicking!

February was not very eventful.  For Valentine's Day, J and I decided to cook a nice homemade meal to celebrate the occasion.  We don't really buy into all of that consumerism with needing to buy gifts for each other and little boxes of candy shaped like hearts.  But it is always nice to celebrate the person you love and have a special evening.  We decided to actually buy some steaks (those never appear in this household, way too expensive to eat on a regular basis!), and we also had hasselbackspotatis and green beans with red wine sauce with it.  Mmm!  I also made vanilla panna cotta and we had some nice red wine with it.  Nice!

Then came my two week trip to Ohio!  It was really great to get out of  Sweden and the work work work with mail work work work mode.  I was really beginning to feel run down in my body (i.e. physically), so that trip couldn't have come at a better time.  In a nutshell (to be extended later), it was lovely to see family and friends.  It was just me this time, J needed to stay here and keep working.  The good thing about going alone is you really can focus all of your time and energy on friends and family.  Two weeks is never long enough (I usually travel 3 weeks, but now that I work pretty much full time, that wasn't possible).  But this time around I really ended up missing the States and Ohio.  For the first time I was actually sad to come back to Sweden (although of course looking very much forward to seeing the husband again).  I usually get my fill and then come back, but something stuck this time around.  I have it as a goal to work on moving back, even if that process takes several years.  We shall see!  The story is never over.  I also don't think I am done with Sweden, either, but there is always a pull in the other direction.  That's simply a choice I've made and I've got to deal with it!  You never know what life may throw you.  =)

So for the past couple of weeks I've just been back at the grinding stone with work.  Luckily the weather has been rather cooperative (that is, sunny!).  There has been a good deal of cold, but this week it's been nearly up to 50F/9C so far!  This past weekend was Easter, meaning that it was a 4 day weekend here in Sweden. We get Friday and Monday off.  J and I went "home" to Tibro and visited with friends and family all weekend.  We even went to a new show at his brother's place in Hjo, and then Sunday evening we spent the evening/night at my good friend M's place.  It was just a lovely, getaway weekend socializing with the family and old friends from the Skaraborg district.  Here are a couple of pictures to leave you with of the beautiful view his brother now has from his newly acquired waterside restaurant in Hjo!

Sunday, February 3, 2013


Woohoo! On Friday I finally received in the mail the decision that I am being granted a permanent residency permit (PUT - Permanentuppehållstillstånd)! All I need to do is go into the local Migrationsverket (Immigration) office and have my fingerprints and photo taken. I knew of this previously but still find it a bit strange that they want such information. I understand such action when someone is coming to visit your country and then is planning to leave. The US does the same thing for those visiting. If I'm being granted permanent residency, isn't that a bit over the top? Nonetheless, that is the last step and then they will mail my new residence card in the mail within a week. I've been waiting since the end of September, and it's perfect timing regarding the fact that I'm going to be travelling to the States in less than a month!

 A couple of shots from a street when out on a round earlier this week.

With all the fog and frost it felt a bit like a fairy tale land on this quiet street.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Cold but beautiful

It was quite cold this week, and as an outdoor worker I noticed it especially.  The temperatures during the daytime were anywhere from -10C(14F) to -6C(21F).  It did cause some beautiful scenery, though.  One or two days were sunny this week and I truly enjoyed it!  I took a couple of shots while out on my rounds this week.

Ice crystals formed on a house's mailbox. All of the mailboxes in the area actually had these on them. They were at least a centimeter or two in height.

All the bushes were covered in thick frost. I rather enjoy spending my time outside for so many hours in the week. It makes me feel fresh and healthy. But I also get to enjoy the beauty that the outdoors has to offer, even in freezing cold temperatures. All you have to do is make sure you're dressed in several layers! People ask me all the time in wonderment how I'm not freezing. You go try running up and down three flights of stairs every minute or two and see if you feel cold, especially if you have two pairs of pants on and three layers on top. =)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Just January

Just January has been happening.  The holidays are over and everyone goes back to the daily grind.  So it has been for J and I.

My vikariat (sub) position started this Monday.  It's nice to know that until March 1st I'm working every day, full time.  It also gives you a slightly different mindset because you're scheduled for certain times.  As a timvikarie (hourly sub) you generally come in at a certain time and finish when you're finished with the day's work.  This week I work from 7am to 3:30pm, so it's kind of nice having that end time to aim for regarding picking up the pace and trying to keep myself a bit faster when out on my routes.  It's also become a good, dare I say fun, challenge to really try and improve my times for how long it takes me to do the routes.  Even if there is a lot of mail or very little, the times don't vary too much since you still have the entire route to do.  It's just that you might have to run inside of Long Street 16B and deliver one letter on the third floor instead of several pieces of mail to each apartment on each floor.

A good piece of news, and I can't recall how much I've mentioned it in the past on here, or if at all (and I don't feel like looking up my old posts), is that I've lost a nice amount of weight since beginning this mail delivery gig!  As I don't want to go around blabbing about actual numbers, I will just say that so far I have lost 8kg, which is about 17 pounds!  I'm back down to a weight that I haven't been since my late teens.  No, that isn't all that long ago but still!  It's quite a handful of years.  =)  So hooray, I've been patting myself on the back for that accomplishment.

Something else that I have to look forward to other than working a lot, making money, and improving my overall health and condition...I'm going to visit the US in March!  The day after my sub position ends I'm going to be flying back home for the first 2 weeks of March.  Yaaay!!  I'm quite excited as I've been wanting to go home for several months now, but just haven't been able to make that call.  The initial problem is, and always is, money.  It's not cheap to hop across the pond (I take 3 flights, and this time it ended up costing about 5500kr, which isn't too bad compared to summer prices).  The second and larger problem this time around is that my residence permit expired in mid-October.  I reapplied for a permanent residence permit in mid-late September, and I still have not been given a decision.  It's recommended that you don't leave Sweden while they are processing your new permit because you can have trouble coming back into the country on your return trip.  Last week I simply got tired of waiting to hear from Migrationsverket (Immigration) and decided to buy a ticket as I had the money and have been wanting to go home for a while.  The last time I was home was for Christmas 2011, so it's about time!  The good news is that I received a letter and small questionnaire in the mail last week from Migrationsverket saying that if we (J and I) just fill out the questions, sign and return the form, they can make a decision based on that.  Basically it was saying they didn't want/see/feel the need to interview us in order to make a decision on whether I get to stay here permanently or not.  Seeing as how J and I are now married, I don't think there will be a problem!  My fingers are crossed that sometime in the next couple of weeks I will finally receive a decision and my new residence permit card.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

God Jul och Gott Nytt År!

...or Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!  I do apologize for taking so long to post.  I figured the last time I posted was December 9th, and with today being January 8th I'd better post before it officially was a month since I last posted.

What all has happened?  Well I didn't post anymore in December because life simply got too busy!  We were super short handed at work (remember, I work for Bring Citymail) so I was working full time and even some overtime up through the 21st of December.  I have no complaints - as stated before, I still love my job!  I'll be extra happy next week when I receive my paycheck for the month.  I believe it'll be my best one yet.  The only bad thing about my job is that it isn't actually a full time job, I'm just a sub, I guess you could call it. I work hourly, and only when they need someone.  Lately, they have needed me pretty much every day.  What's more, I have good news!  Starting later this month and going through until the 1st of March I have a vikariat, or substitute, position for someone who will be gone.  That means I basically replace them in their full time duties.  I will receive, gasp, an actual month's salary for the first time since moving to Sweden.  I've been making money for quite some time now, but I've never been paid a month's salary.  The downside: it ends on March 1st and so I will go back to my normal position of just being an hourly sub.  Oh well, let's hope more substitute positions show up in my future.

For Christmas J and I headed out to Tibro to stay with his parents for a few days.  J's sister and her family stayed the same amount of time we did. So it was a nice, relaxing few days of just family time.  What is even better, we had a super white Christmas!  It snowed on the 23rd just after we arrived, and then again I think on the night of the 24th it snowed again.  It was great!  It started melting on the drive back home on the 26th so it all worked out perfectly.  I'm sad to report that I didn't take any pictures over Christmas.  I know, for shame, for shame.  We did all the Swedish Christmasy stuff though like decorating the tree on the evening of the 23rd.  Then on the 24th we got up and had a nice breakfast, ate a giant julbord around 2pm and finished eating just in time to sit down with the kids and watch Kalle Anka (that's Donald Duck) at 3pm.  They play a mix and match of really old Disney clips, several including Donald Duck.  It's national tradition here in Sweden for the country to sit down and watch it at 3pm.  After that Jultomten (or Santa Claus) came by and handed out a bunch of gifts.  Then later we had leftovers from the julbord and of course risgröt (or rice porridge) with cinnamon.  It's a Christmas classic here.

This year, instead of all the adults getting gifts for everyone, we decided to play a swap game instead.  Each person bought a gift, wrapped it, and kept it secret from everyone else as to what it was.  Everyone got assigned a random number, opened his/her gift and then the game ensued.  To make a long story short we played a swapping game based on the roll of a die and I think everyone ended up happy!  There were 8 of us so it wasn't chaotic.  I ended up with an ice cream maker machine (which I actually bought, as well as J's mom and sister! So there were 3 overall).  I didn't end up with my own machine though, so there was that.  J and I have already made 2 batches of chocolate ice cream and it is sooo good!  I doubt I'll buy ice cream anytime soon as it is so incredibly simple to make and far more delicious than store bought.  As for J's gift, he received some nice crystal long drink glasses.  He gladly used them for the first time on New Year's Eve.

Speaking of NYE, my good friend M and her man were in Gothenburg for the holidays so we decided that we would have the 2 of them over that evening for some nice appetizers (turned out to be a mealsworth) and some fun games.  It was a blast!  They printed out their own version of Cards Against Humanity and it was so incredibly fun to play.  We did not stop laughing the entire probably 2 hours that we played it.  My face hurt from smiling and laughing by the end of it.  I definitely recommend it as a party game for adults!  We ended the night by meeting up with a couple of Swedish friends at the Hard Rock Cafe downtown.  The one thing that bummed me out that night was that the cafe didn't have a countdown!  Either that, or somehow we missed it.  There are several levels at this one, but most were closed so we were in the most populated area. Maybe Hard Rock figured they were too cool to have a silly countdown.  In any case, the evening was a blast, and it was great to see some good friends.

And here we are!  I worked 3 days last week and am working again this week, so it's back to the grindstone for me.  J technically has off from December 21st to January 14th since he had a lot of vacation days to take out.  He has, however, worked here and there since he is so needed at his job.  Tomorrow he is even going to a meeting.  I keep booing the fact that he's working when he should be on vacation, but only because he truly works so hard all the time.

I'll try to write more often, that will be my blogly (made up, yes I know) New Year's resolution.  Write more often!