Goodbye Jack-O’-Lantern

Yesterday I lifted the lid off our Jack-O’-Lantern, reached inside his belly and pulled out the tea light. It was something of a solemn moment. We’ve been struggling to truly say goodbye to October and Halloween, and I’ve been burning the pumpkin every day since Sebastian calved him. There’s something so special about the smell that comes from a lit pumpkin. It reminds me of my childhood in our tiny miners cottage. When we would light the pumpkin, the whole cottage would hum with its comforting scent.

But yesterday, it dawned on me that instead of throwing him away, we could do something special with his body instead. I decided to take him out into the forest and leave him there for the creatures – and the little people – to enjoy. But first I needed to carve away the sinister grin that had been keeping us company through the long nights. I ensured all the burnt parts were cut away, and bagged up only the unblemished parts of the skin and flesh to take out with me.

It hadn’t snowed the night before, and the clear skies had gifted us with a covering of ice and the very first of winter’s icicles. Having already spent time in Sweden during winter I knew where they would be hanging, and scrambled up one steep embankment after another to admire nature’s delicate ornaments.

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Fika With Anna’s Pepparkakor

Nothing says ‘welcome winter, we’re ready for you’ more than a Fika of pepparkakor and hot, sweet Liptons Tea. Little Tyra was unwell the other day with stomach flu, so when I went to the store to stock up on blåbärssoppa (the Swedes drink lots of blåbärssoppa or blueberry soup when they’re unwell) I also picked up 2016’s first packet of pepparkakor or ginger thins. When I was little and ill, my mother used to always give me ginger – mostly in the form of gingerbread – as it worked to combat nausea.

Fortunately, Little Tyra is bouncing around again like usual, and we have plenty of pepparkakor left over. The brand I picked up was Annas Pepparkakor, a company which started as a home bakery run by two sisters in Stockholm in 1929. Nowadays, Annas Pepparkakor still use their original recipe and are sold worldwide.

These thin, fragile biscuits are so crisp yet smooth to eat, and practically melt in the mouth. The distinct, rich, hugely moreish spice flavour created using ginger, cinnamon and cloves brings all of your senses to Christmas morning. As an English woman I naturally had to see how well they would dunk in my tea. Fortunately I had my wits about me when I dunked, and surveyed that two quick dunks were just about all the pepparkakor were able to take. One quick dunk is more than sufficient.

While slowly nibbling my final pepparkakor – I wanted to make it last – I found myself reading about an interesting Swedish custom where you place the pepparkakor in the palm of your hand, then, using the index finger or thumb of your other hand tap it three times and make a wish. If the pepparkakor breaks into three pieces then your wish will come true. Naturally this meant I had to grab one more and try it for myself. Now, I won’t tell you what I wished for, but I will tell you that my pepparkakor did break into three pieces!

If you’re intrigued by Annas Pepparkakor, and would love to develop your knowledge, I strongly recommend you head to their gorgeous website where you’ll find history galore, as well as plenty of inspirational ways to serve and eat your pepparkakor.

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Hello Winter, I’ve Missed You

I felt winter in the air during the last week of October, but couldn’t quite get my head around the fact that it was coming so quickly. It seems as though October was but a beautiful, brief moment. Though it’s sad to see the leaves loose their vibrancy and shape, I feel my energy start to rise as the temperature drops, ever steadily, by the day. Winter is my season, my home, my heart.

I’ve heard people complain about turning back the clocks, but I’m in love with these dark, early evenings. Last night it started to snow when I was running in the forest, and after getting home, I routinely turned to the window to see if it was still coming down.

To experience happiness doesn’t take much – waking up to snow on the ground and in the sky is enough to keep my optimism bubbling all day. I went to visit the forest as soon as I was able, to capture the beginning of its majestic transformation.

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The Delicious Gifts From Our Pumpkin

We finally got around to carving our pumpkin yesterday, but it’s okay! Halloween in Sweden is a little different. We celebrate until the 6th of November, the day on which Alla Helgans Dag (All Saint’s Day) falls. It’s on this date – also the first day of winter  – that families go to the cemeteries to visit the graves of their deceased. Pass a cemetery in Sweden on Alla Helgans Dag, and you will see it flooded with candlelight.

So, our pumpkin will stay alight until tomorrow. Though knowing us, it’ll be a bit longer. Halloween is the most special celebration of the year in this household, and we hold onto the Halloweeney feeling for as long as possible…even though the snow is quietly blanketing the ground outside.

Once Sebastian had cut a lid out of the pumpkin, I set to work on taking out the seeds, then on removing the seeds from the stringy guts, which took the best part of two hours. All the while I was picking away the pulp, I was thinking to myself ‘hell, I need to thank my mother a thousand times or more for all the hours she spent preparing seeds to roast for my siblings and I when we were growing up.’

Once they were clean, I preheated the oven to 180C and covered the seeds in a few glugs of olive oil and a handful of salt and black pepper. They went into the oven for about twenty minutes until golden and crunchy. This kind of hands on work with foodstuffs, where you really have to be into what you’re doing can make the difference between an average day and an accomplished day, and I felt greatly accomplished as I nibbled on some pumpkin seeds, and breathed in the heady, sweet scent coming from the slowly warming Jack-O’-Lantern.

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How I Spent October

October was an extremely special, productive and, despite the darkening days (which I love anyway), an enlightening month. I’ve always held Autumn close to my heart, but I had no idea quite how strong a spell the changing of the leaves could hold over me. I’ve lost count of the hours I’ve spent simply staring out of the window.

It was a month where I really focused on my photography, and pushed the boundaries of what I thought I could accomplish as, dare I say it, a photographer. With the help of two special ladies and our art project The Divine Weirdos, I’ve been able to explore new darknesses. I’ve never had the courage to call myself a photographer before today, and when I say it it is with a slight waver to my voice. I think it’ll be a while before I write it anywhere other than here. I’ve always felt there were too many ways in which I still have to develop before I can give myself the title.

October also found me being proactive in terms of discovering new Swedish foods and culinary traditions. It’ so easy to get stuck in routines…and I made a determined effort to lay some to rest.

October was all of this, and so much more. I hope you enjoy the following photographs and words and where they lead…

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My talented friend Erzabeth Svedlund and I magicked up Bride Of The Birds, a photoshoot involving a wedding dress, owl like makeup and our beloved forest.

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Photo : Erzabeth Svedlund

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Photo : Margit Angéla-Brigitta Mortrand

October saw me get crafty…especially crafty actually. I’m so proud of how crafty I was. I manifested the creature you see above you (for a Divine Weirdos photoshoot) creating the fingers out of silver foil and black tape.

They celebrated National Poetry Day in Britain on the 6th of October, so I did my part here in Sweden and wrote this poem.

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The first episode of a documentary which I’ve been working on with my man and his band Rimfrost was released…and very well received!

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I tried Swedish blodpudding for the first time (and adored it!) ….

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…and re-shaped how I take my Fika for a week. (Click on the photo you like to go to the post).

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I uploaded new photos for sale in my shop, including images I caught of dewy spider webs in the early morning.

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We enjoyed the Halloween celebrations at Liseberg.

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I went out before breakfast to catch the mist

…and was contacted by Douglas Elliman Real Estate to take part in a Fall Style Board Challenge…which I graciously accepted.

I also helped Rimfrost to take some photographs…which will be revealed soon…and filmed them LIVE shopping! If you want to know what I’m talking about, head to their Facebook page.

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I eagerly anticipated my first Halloween in Sweden, and celebrated in a way much more my style than heading to a loud party…by taking photos in the forest, eating cake and watching Penny Dreadful. The festivities aren’t quite over yet though…the pumpkins will stay alight until the 6th of November!

 

A cold winter is predicted, and snow is already on the way! I’m shivering with excitement over what November will bring.

 

 

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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When The Mornings Are Misty

Close to midnight last night Sebastian and I stood at the living room window. There was a heavy mist blanketing everything outside, dulling even the strong light from the street lamps, creating  an atmosphere that only October can conjure. Sebastian said ‘you’ll have to get up early tomorrow…’ He knows all about my obsession with misty mornings.

And he was right. He woke me, saying I needed to hurry up out of bed. I needed to get outside with my camera before the sun burnt away the precious pale haze.

I don’t think Sebastian has ever seen me move so fast. I was up and out of the door in less than five minutes. Taking my usual running route I managed to capture the following moments, before my fingers started to feel numb and my stomach growled at me to break its fast.

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Halloween Celebrations At Liseberg

Halloween is something of a big deal here for the Svedlund household. It’s been the main topic of conversation for all of October so far – and I wouldn’t want it any other way!

Little Tyra’s mother Erzabeth turned twenty nine yesterday, and to celebrate she suggested we make a trip to Liseberg  – an amusement park in Gothenburg that’s been pumping Swedes with adrenaline since 1923 – and experience their Halloween celebration.

So last night, Sebastian, Little Tyra, Erzabeth and I bundled up against the October chill (it’s getting really cold now in Sweden), and headed to Gothenburg. Having never been to a theme park around Halloween I wasn’t clued up on what to expect, which is how I like it.

I can remember a little while ago Sebastian telling me that Halloween wasn’t all that important to the average Swede, well I beg to differ! A festival atmosphere greeted us the moment we walked through the gates. A troop of unsettling scarecrows, and a vast number of pumpkins – we’re talking thousands – decorated the pathways (along with piles of other autumnal vegetables paying homage to the harvest season). As we made our way from one area of the park to another, the theme went from countryside harvest to post apocalyptic with District Z, where the dead were waiting for us among burnt out cars and buses. Little Tyra was hardly phased by the zombies that lurched in our direction.

Liseberg’s festivities left me feeling like I never want to neglect Halloween again, and I’m already planning how I would love to see in next years celebration.

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Re-Shaping Fika : Mandelkubb & The Skogstroll

This morning I asked Sebastian what I ought to do for Fika, and he told me to Google mandelkubb. I spent some time scrolling through Google Images thinking to myself, ‘well now, these are rather modest looking pastries,’ but I trust my Swede, and his taste buds, so while out grocery shopping I picked some up.

Fika didn’t happen in the afternoon, instead it took place at around 7.30 in the evening, after I’d returned from a photo shoot in the dark woods. (I was a troll…)

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My hands were chilled to the bone on arrival, and I was hankering for hot tea and something sweet, so ripped into the packet of ‘modest looking pastries.’

Baked using predominantly almonds – and being something of a marzipan enthusiast – I knew just from the smell that I was just about to bite into something that would become a new addiction. And I wasn’t wrong. Modest they looked, but the taste was anything but.

The soft texture was a wonderful surprise, and the sugar nibs on top provided just the right amount of crunch. I thought it only fit after photographing myself as a troll, that I used Sebastian’s Theodor Kittelsen Skogstroll mug for my cherished Yorkshire Tea. Believe me when I say this stuff is cherished. I never waste a drop…!

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