The Best From 2016

Hej hej! I hope you all had a magical Jul and New Year and that 2017 is being kind to you.

I’m so relieved to be waking up in a fresh New Year, and am using every second to live as fully and as happily as I can.

This year I will be getting to know Sweden on a much deeper level…but more about this in one of my next posts!

For now I want to share my favourite posts from 2016! I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed living them.

My Initiation Into The Swedish Tradition Of Semlor

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I Could Smell Spring

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My Week In Photographs

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Photographing My Viking

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An Interview With Bronte Aurell Of Scandinavian Kitchen

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To My Dear Swede

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Roadtrip To Hagfors In Värmland

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Sebastian’s Family Home In Hagfors

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Rimfrost Live In Trollhättan

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Rimfrost Live In Göteborg

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Fishing In Värmland

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Thrift Haul

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My First Swedish Midsummer

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ATrip Out To Borås Djurpark

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Meeting My Friend After Six Years

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Turning 30 In Sweden

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Re-Shaping Fika : Mandelkubb & The Skogstroll

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Re-shaping Fika : My Man Made Blåbärspaj

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Bride Of The Birds

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I Couldn’t Stay Out Of The Forest

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Jul I Sverige : Making Orange Clove Pomanders

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Our Holiday In The Motherland : Climbing Roseberry Topping

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On The Shortest Day

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My First Jul In Sweden

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Things I Brought Back From England : My Lopapeysa

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I moved to Sweden in February of this year with one suitcase of belongings. For a (then) 29 year old with a book addiction, a passion for Nordic knits and an obsession with Northerly knick knacks (Replica dragon heads from the Viking era, that kind of thing…) one suitcase didn’t really cut it, and I’ve been pining to be surrounded by my ‘stuff’ for months now.

It was okay at first. Everything in Sweden was gloriously new, and I didn’t really have the time to think stuff I’d left behind. But gradually I started to long to be surrounded by the precious things I’d collected during my three decades. I wanted Sebastian’s apartment to feel like our apartment.

One of the items which immediately found a place in my suitcase was my lopapeysa (a traditional Icelandic sweater.) It was 2011 when I found it in a thrift store in Reykjavik for 300 krona. I was coming to the end of my three month stay in Iceland, and was dead set on getting myself one of the unmistakable knits.

Brand new they were above and unfathomably far from my budget limit, so I needed to utilize my thrifting skills. I knew this was the one from the moment it caught my eye from across the store. Despite my devotion to the dark side of fashion, it (surprisingly) didn’t bother me (too much) the fact that it was white and varying shades of brown. Sebastian tried it on and said he looked like a 70’s Dad…which made me wonder, for the colours are quite attuned with that era…

Wearing it for the first time, I felt proud and more connected to the country than I’d felt at any other moment during my travels. In Iceland everyone in the city and out in the wilds wears a lopapaysa all year round. Interesting fact: the decorative yoke around the neck thought to have been based on Greenlandic women’s costume.

It’s strange that, just a short time ago, my sweater was in another country, folded in a cardboard box in the loft space above my parents kitchen. It’s a comforting feeling to have it here within arms reach.

The Fall Room Style Board Challenge

Fall here in Sweden is more magnificent than I ever could have imagined, and I am spending much of my time in the forest with my camera, catching the early morning mist before the sun can find it. If I’m not outside, I’m probably leaning against the living room window in silent awe, watching the leaves depart from the trees and flirt with the wind.

It’s growing colder by the hour, and the living room is where I gravitate towards at every given opportunity when I’m at home. I’m lighting candles earlier nowadays, building up my reading stock pile, and ensuring that our comfy faux fur throws are always within easy reach.

Recently, I was contacted by the Florida office of  Douglas Elliman Real Estate and asked if I would like to take part in a Fall Room Style Board Challenge. With the living room being the central gathering place during these colder months, I didn’t need to think twice about where I would focus my attention. So, if you’re looking for some ideas on how to prepare your living space to get the most out of it this fall, read on!

Cover Up And Get Comfortable

The living room is going to be your cocoon for the next few months, so creating cosiness should be your first priority. Bring out the sheepskin rugs for the floors. There’s nothing quite like sinking your toes into a thick sheepskin, while losing yourself in a good book, and sipping on a hot cup of tea. (Milk and one sugar, please. It should be coffee here in Sweden, but I’m British, so we do things a little bit differently in this household.) Stockpile the chunky knit throws for early evenings on the couch and drape furs wherever you can! Double up on cushions too. Everyone needs more cushions at this time of year.

 

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The Arley Throw / Deer Cushion / Sheepskins

Bring Out The Candles

One staple for your living room during Fall is candles. And plenty of them! Flickering candlelight will create a soft and deeply relaxing ambience in your living room – exactly what’s needed in Fall. Stock up on white, unscented tall candles and tea lights, as well as a variety of scented candles. Choose deep, heady scents like ginger, cinnamon and pumpkin, and forest smells such as pine and fir to enhance the autumnal atmosphere.

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Unscented Chandelier Candles / Candlestick / Skog Candle

 

Make The Most Of The Fire

If you’re fortunate enough to have a fire, this is the time of year when you’ll be making the most of it! It ought to be the centerpiece of your living room during the colder days, so ensure the chimney is seen to by a sweep, and dedicate some time to sprucing up the decoration around the fireplace. You can do this easily using firewood. Stack it or invest in an attractive holder. If you can, make foraging for the wood something of a ritual. Sitting in front of the fire will be that much more satisfying. Interestingly enough, if you are stressed, staring in the flames of an open fire kick can be much more rewarding and relaxing than crashing in front of the TV.

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Log Storage Rack / Large Ratten Basket Set / Buckle Up : Leather Belt Project

Bring The Outdoors In

Fall is a time for showing our true appreciation for nature and its variable textures, exhilarating scents and astonishing patterns. It’s also a time to bring nature indoors. As well as foraging for your own fire wood, forage for natural elements that you can use, pine cones for example, conkers and leaves, branches, bark and antlers. Fall is the best season for DIY projects too, projects such as leaf roses (read about when I made leaf roses here), pinecone garlands and, of course, pumpkin carving! Fill a glass vase with freshly collected leaves. Place birch logs on your fireplace. Put harvest fruits and small pumpkins on the coffee table and mantelpiece. Fill a bowl full of acorns. Decorate your walls with branches…there’s an endless array of things that you can do with the harvest from your foraging. Head over to Pinterest and YouTube where you’ll find thousands of beautifully presented tutorials on Fall crafting.

Pumpkins / Antlers / Pinecones

I wish you a beautiful autumn and enjoy these long, cosy nights!

 

Fill Your Life With Swedish Misty Mornings

I don’t know about you, but I can never have too many misty mornings. If it was up to me, half of the year’s mornings would be mist shrouded, the other half, snow covered. If you’re fond of waking up to find a pale haze across the world, then you might like to treat yourself to one of the new prints available in my Redbubble Store. As always, each print is available in multiple formats.

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My 40 Kronor Thrift Haul

I’m imagining that your eyebrows went skywards when you saw this post headline. A haul for 40 kronor? Is that even possible in Sweden? Well Emmaus Björkå made it so. The sale, which has been going on for a few weeks started off at 30 kroner, then 20, then 10 and the other day 5. Everything you see here was 5 kroner, except for the tartan scarf. That was 10. I’m something of a scarf hoarder. I’ve never liked having a cold neck, and the comfort that comes when I’m wearing a scarf is something I’m attached to. And with autumn slowly closing in, there’s no better time to increase my hoard. 

If you’ve been reading my previous posts about thrifting you’ll know that I’ve been experimenting more with colour. I’ve been giving myself permission to edge away from black to time to time. 

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My 60 Kroner Outfit

Emmaus Björkå had a humongous sale going on the other day. There was rail after rail of offerings for 20 kroner. To be honest, I almost started hyperventilating I was that damn excited about the possibilities of what I could find. I felt a freedom completely unlike what I felt when I first started thrifting in Sweden. A freedom to pick up whatever the hell I wanted, no matter what colour it was.

A few weeks back, I fell upon a deep forest green dress that screamed Game Of Thrones. But, at 100 kroner it was out of my price range, so I reluctantly hung it back up and left. Imagine how I felt when I landed upon on for the satisfyingly small sum of 20 kroner. Needless to say it went straight in my basket. It’s one of these dresses that, although absolutely beautiful, it needs something to clinch it around the waist else I’d end up looking a bit like a tent. For this outfit, I’ve teamed it up with a belt that I found a couple of months ago for 40 kroner.

Feeling totally comfortable in a colour is not something I expected would ever happen after being devoted to black for fifteen years…but forest green feels right, it feels me.

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June Was An Invigorating & Inspiring Month

July 1st already? It seems only hours ago that I was telling you about the month of May.

June was a month where I let loose and had fun. Lots and lots of fun. My relationship with Tyra continued to develop  and grow stronger by the day, which made my heart sour to entirely new heights.

I re-connected with people close to me, and learned, on a deeper level, how my man works. My fear of colour was challenged when I found some clothes that I loved that didn’t happen to be black, and I was also introduced to the beautiful celebration of Midsummer, which was the crowning glory of the past 30 days. Thank you June, you were wonderful.

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I managed to uncover some great thrift finds,  and I introduced some colour into my wardrobe.

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We took a day trip out to Borås Zoo

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…and I ate my first Svenska jordubbar

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had a wonderful reunion with a good friend

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…and developed a taste for blåbärssoppa.

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I became obsessed with Wasa Kanel.

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I started writing for budget Swedish travel site Routes North. (My first article for them was about the Swedish artist John Bauer.)

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My relationship with Little Tyra continued to progress…

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I celebrated five months with Sebastian!

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I took part in my very first Swedish Midsummer

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…and treated myself to a haircut to round off the month.

Meeting My Friend After Six Years

By the beginning of summer 2010 I had completed my 3 year BA (Hons) in Creative Writing at the University of Cumbria and didn’t know what was to come next for me. I had also started taking, for the first time in my life, medication for depression. To add to this, my three year relationship came to a sudden, bitter end. I felt suffocated by pressure, alone and very scared – so I did what my aching heart was whispering at me to do, and the only thing that made sense at the time – I set off on a solo journey couchsurfing and hostelling through Norway, Denmark and Sweden.

I knew that Scandinavia would lift away the pressure. I knew it would help me to dispel my loneliness. I knew it would squash any feelings of fear that were keeping me from fully living my life and experiencing happiness again.

It was on my last day in Norway before heading to Denmark, when I met a young British woman by the name of Cat Cooke, an aspiring (and now very successful) tour manager. We were both couchsurfing in Stavanger and she came to meet me after I had conquered the Preikestolen hike (in torrential rain and battering gales. The wind nearly took me over the edge at the top…) so we could both bike back to our temporary home.

My host hadn’t provided much information about what Cat looked like, he just told me that ‘you girls are similar.’ But when I saw this grinning metal chick powering towards me on a ramshackle bike, I knew it was my girl. The connection we had was immediate and powerful, and we bonded over our shared devotion to metal music and all things Scandinavian. That night we hardly stopped talking to draw breath.

The following day, Cat accompanied me to the bus stop from where I’d be taking a coach to Copenhagen, and when we said goodbye I knew it wouldn’t be the last time that we’d be sharing the same space in time…

Nearly six years later and we are both living in Sweden – Cat in Gothenburg, myself in Borås. Yesterday, Cat arrived at my home and it was as though the six years between our meetings had never taken place. The connection was still real and exhilarating, and we talked and we talked and we talked. There was hardly a moment of silence for several hours.

We talked about what we love about Sweden and the few things that we find frustrating. She told me of her anxieties when she first arrived in the country four years ago…about going into places alone and not being able to speak Swedish and feeling like a fool and thinking everyone was making fun of her…and I told her I feel exactly the same now. She told me it gets easier, and I believed her. We opened our hearts right up and poured out everything – our fears, our joys, and then  repackaged our hearts so they were lighter and easier to hold.

We walked in the forest for hours, I showed her the special haunts I’ve found on my adventures, and we stopped every few paces to marvel at the beauty of our surroundings and sequel with genuine joy. We sat on mossy boulders and ate cheese and mackerel with bread, folded the English way, and cinnamon buns. We walked until our legs were tight and sore then we paused for tea before another long walk to pick up pizza and candy. We watched Peter Kay and Ross Noble and Mister Bean and Cian Twomey and laughed as the sugar from the candy bolted through our systems. Hours felt like minutes and it was morning before we’d had time to break for silence.

Today was a gentle few hours of talking, thrifting and eating a cheeky McDonald’s. I appreciated each moment, each sentence that we exchanged, each laugh that we sent out into the sky. This time it won’t be another six years until we’re completing each others sentences again.

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Rain was forecast…but the Gods were smiling down on us.

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I felt so proud and fortunate as we hiked the forest I’ve come to know so well.

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In this photo we were trying to be silly…but in my usual ghoulish way I look as if I’m about to do something extremely sinister.

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Cat being beautiful.

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Cats always stop for the weirdos.

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Honestly, the Swedes are utterly obsessed with candy. I’ve never seen such an enormous pick and mix selection in my 29 years. The most exciting thing had to be the Black Metal licorice…even though it’s bloody disgusting.

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Share a pizza? Yeah right…we’re adult women. There’s no sharing pizza.

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A selection of our massive candy haul.

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These beauties were one size too big. Devastation doesn’t come close…

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Candle holders everywhere…

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The amount of handcrafted stuff in Swedish thrift stores is unreal…

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Books collected by colour. Beautiful way to arrange.

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If I’m not in the forest, you’ll find me in the thrift store.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thrift Haul

My latest thrift haul from Erikshjälpen and Myrorna saw me come away with some pieces of clothing that a few weeks ago I never would have even considered wearing. Pieces that don’t adhere to my usual strict dark uniform.

I’ve lost count of the the amount of times I’ve said ‘I’d wear it if it was black…’ I’ve lusted after so many items that I’ve refused to buy because of the fact they weren’t dark. I’ve always been infatuated with the ‘farmgirl’ look, and the Old Swedish ‘farm culture style,’ which has been so beautifully interpreted by Swedish clothing line Ewa i Walla. But I’ve never had the guts to be able to indulge because of my refusal to put on something that wasn’t black. (I did buy a couple of grey scarves and a white dress a few months ago, and they have been helping to ease me into this new stage of my life where I’m opening myself up to all kinds of new experiences with my personal style.

Sebastian has been gently encouraging me to be more adventurous with what I wear, so I have him to thank for me taking the plunge, and going out thrifting with a real purpose the other day – to find some coloured clothing that I could love and learn to wear. I was very lucky that a couple of pieces satisfy my lust for Old Swedish style.

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The dress you’ve just been looking at very nearly didn’t come into my possession. Fortunately, I had the inkling to stop and look at the rail outside the changing room where everyone dumps the clothes that they tried on and didn’t want. This beautifully made, fully lined, 100% cotton summer dress was for sale at 60 krona, and gives me a little bit of that farmgirl look that I was after. The lines and soft blue also sings to me of Sweden.

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I actually left this skirt originally, but had to go back and get it because I couldn’t get it out of my head. I’ve always had a soft spot for tartan, but, again, have never had it in me to wear it…until now. The length is perfect (long skirts always do it for me), it’s full and voluminous and so bloody comfy I can hardly believe it. And the pockets…they’re one of the best things about this piece. The older I get, the more I love pockets on skirts, and the feel they give to the piece…again, it’s that farmgirl thing.  It’s also 100% cotton and for 45 Krona I could not complain.

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From the second I laid eyes on this dress, there wasn’t a moment of doubt about whether or not it was going to come home with me. The style has, I think, a real witchy vibe going on, which I think is actually heightened by the plum shade. There’s several different materials at work here, and I was, I have to admit, a bit surprised to learn it was originally from Lindex, one of the leading fashion chains in Europe. From the look and feel of it, you’d think it was handmade in a candle lit shop in Gamla Stan. I bagged it for 65 Krona.

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And now for something completely different. I picked up this what can only be described as a ‘bizarrely sexy’ top because it looked like armour, and every woman needs armour. I haven’t been able to find any tags or labels, so can’t tell you where it’s from or what it’s made of, but for 45 Krona, it was going in my basket.

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And finally, this rather sleek and bad ass little number. Originally from Missguided, this skirt came into my life for 50 Krona. I’m not very experienced with ‘doing sexy’ so I’ll probably wear it around the house to practise how to sit down without flashing my underwear to the world.