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The end of our Summer in Mariestad

Today is the last day of our official summer vacation in Mariestad. It is always a bit of a sad day when we pack up and go back to Oslo. Not that we don’t enjoy Oslo of course but this place is our holiday place, where the days are free and we relax in what we think of as our summer paradise. Although the locals may protest that the past couple weeks have been neither summer nor paradise (lets just say the flowers aren’t going to dry up while we are gone) we have made the best of it and have been out and about in the city and on the beach every day and all in all had a very lovely summer.

SunsetMariestadBryg

Beautiful Harbour Sunset taken with Nokia X6

We were lucky to have relatively good weather when Dad and Teri were here, and enjoyed a boat trip on Lake Vänern. That day was unbelievably gorgeous, a perfect day to fill up Dad’s photo album. (We helped him a bit too!) Here you can see Mariestad approached from the water. RennyBA is blogging about this boat trip as we speak – or rather write – so you can get all the details over at his place!

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Approaching Mariestad from the Lake

In fact we visited the lake as much as possible. This is our peaceful place, our photo place and our romantic place. The beautiful nature is part of what makes Mariestad called Vänern’s Pearl, and a part of the reason our summer home is located here too.

Vanern

A windy wonderful day

And regardless of the weather we enjoyed good food, here I have a larger kitchen and more time then I do at home so we are always cooking up something good in the kitchen. In short this summer we ate.

restaurantsteak

Steak with onions, grilled veggies, and fries

And ate.

homecookedshrimp

Grilled Shrimp with Artichoke, and grilled veggies

And ate.

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Homemade Pizza is best!

But not it is time to pack up our summer things and return to Oslo.

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RennyBA and his new little Fabia

We have to be home on Thursday to meet some other blog friends who could not join us for OsloBG but were in the area now instead, and then we have some last minute planning and arrangements to make, plus a personal engagement on Saturday. The clock is ticking now my friends. In just over a week the grand event begins! Stay tuned……

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Happy Independence Day America!

Hello friends! Hope you are all having a great 4th of July weekend. Living outside of the country and immersed in Norwegian Traditions I feel like it is extra important to keep my own traditions from home alive, so yes we do celebrate the fourth of July every year. I try to make it as traditional as possible, and mostly do the same things we did when we were living in New York. BBQ Ribs are a must, along with homemade potato salad (none of that store bought sh..) and of course corn on the cob. It’s a bit early for corn on the cob in Norway, we are too far north but we can usually get some imported from Southern Europe.

We did our celebration today though because we are at our summer house. Our vacation starts late this year because we are having lots of guests in the late summer so we are only here for the weekend. That means we will use the afternoon of the 4th to drive home. But no worries! We had a good celebration today, and I’ll make sure we get some burgers tomorrow so we don’t feel too left out!

Classic Car Show in Mariestad

Classic Car Show in Mariestad

Today we went to a classic car show which they hold the first weekend in July every year in Mariestad. The weather was hot and sunny, and there was a very good turnout. RennyBA will be posting more on this event so I won’t give you full coverage right now.

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Sunny beach day in Mariestad

After standing in the hot sun at the Classic car show we needed to cool off a bit. So we did as many others in the local area and headed to the local beach for a dip in the Great Lake Vänern. The water was just right for a swim, warm enough that you don”t go into shock when you get in, but cold enough to cool you down on a hot and humid day. It is really 4th of July weather here this year. Hazy hot and humid as we used to say back home.

One thing which is very different here is that you can’t send up fireworks in the summer time. Well of course you can but you won’t see them very good because the sky doesn’t get dark. So if you are missing fireworks, click here and make your own online, its fun!!

And don”t forget! Happy Independence Day!

Shining start to Midsummer in Sweden

Midsummer is a great celebration in Sweden, where one celebrates the light of this year’s longest day and the flowering vegetation. In Norway we celebrate St. Hans which is basically the same but set on a regular date of June 24. Midsummer festival in Sweden is always on the weekend closest to the 24 June – with a midsummer evening on Friday and midsummer day on Saturday.

Perfect Midsummer Weather

Perfect Midsummer Weather

We were of course in Norway for St. Hans and this was the last day of my trip to the mountains which you can read about in my last post. We have in recent years traveled to our summer home in Sweden for midsummer celebration because we think it is such a lovely time. We rolled into Sweden yesterday afternoon in time to celebrate midsummer eve with good company and a bit of cold beer and wine as is the custom hehehe at least for us.

Today was midsummer day and I have never experienced a more beautiful one. The weather was absolutely perfect. We started the day with coffee on the balcony where I soaked in the sun and tried to get a bit more color.

Guest Harbor in Mariestad

Guest Harbor in Mariestad

A short time later we took a trip into the town. Most shops and businesses are closed but thankfully the ice cream kiosk was open so we took an ice cream on the docks and watched the pretty boats sailing in and out of the guest harbor. Mariestad is a bit of a touristy town in the summer and there are always many nice pleasure boats visiting the harbor.

A trip to the beach is popular

A trip to the beach is popular

The weather was so fine that a trip to the beach was in order. I was obviously not the only one who had that idea because the beach was full of happy families who also felt this was a good way to celebrate the day. This is a great beach because the water warms up fairly quickly. I would guess the water temp was around 20 degrees Celsius – 70 Fahrenheit.

Gilled Salmon with Hollandaise

Gilled Salmon with Hollandaise

To finish off a perfect midsummer day we need to have an appropriate dinner. Fish is of course summer food, especially when it is grilled and eaten on the balcony of our summer home. What a lovely way to spend the day. If you want to experience summer in Scandinavia, remember it’s not too late to join Oslo Blog Gathering 2010!

Norwegian Wood Festival and Sweden Rock, let the festival season begin

Summer Rock festivals are popular phenomena in Scandinavia. Noway, Sweden and Denmark are known throughout Europe and the rest of the world for summer festivals with something for every taste. I must admit that I am not much of a festival goer these days. My sons are more the right age, and my oldest just came home from several days at Sweden Rock Festival.

Sweden Rock, when not raining!

Sweden Rock, when not raining!

Sweden Rock Festival is a heavy metal and hard rock-the festival in Sölvesborg in Sweden. Each year both well known and up and coming bands perform for a festival which lasts 4 days in the beginning of June. There are about 30,000 visitors each year. This years concert offered bands like Aerosmith, Guns N Roses, and Slayer. The boys said some of the local bands were also very good. They didn’t make it until the end of the festival though, because as is also typical for festivals – they got lots of rain. You’re really lucky if you make it through a festival completely dry hehehe. So after 3 days of sleeping on the lumpy ground in a tent they decided to “throw in the towel” so to speak.

Norwegian Wood 2009 Nick Cave

Norwegian Wood 2009 Nick Cave

This weekend one of the largest festivals in Oslo is also going on; Norwegian Wood. Located at the edge of Vigeland park in Frogner swimming area. This concert is not as much Heavy Metal and more of a variety of rock. Something for everyone in a way. They also reserve room for promising Norwegian bands in a section they call “untouched”. These are groups that are unspoiled by popularity and publication so far. Saturday the main acts will be Van Morrison, Amy MacDonald, and Jackson Brown.

Norwegian Wood Poster 2010

Norwegian Wood Poster 2010

I think I would have liked Norwegian Wood better, partly because it is more grown up music, and partly because I could sneak home after the concert, take a shower and sleep in a good bed…no tent required since I am local hahaha!! Okay, and if you are not the festival type then you can visit RennyBA to learn more relaxing ways to spend the summer days like in the Botanical Garden!

Romjul peace in Sweden

In Norway the week between Christmas and New Years has a name, something which I think is quite handy, it is called Romjul. In earlier centuries Norway celebrated Christmas from Christmas eve to Holy three Kings day (January 6), and Romjul were the days from the Holy Christmas days until January 6th. Now however most of the celebration lasts only until January 1.

Snowy trees in Mariestad

Snowy trees in Mariestad

Romjula for many in Norway is a time for Christmas peace at home, many take vacation, and the schools are closed. Many families use this time for visiting and enjoyig special Christmas foods like rice porridge, gingerbread and glazed toasted almonds. Romjula can be a quiet time indoors with a lot of eating, but also walks outdoors for fresh air, reflection and contemplation play a roll. Many families go skiing or enjoy their holiday at their cottages in the mountains.

Before, it was also customary to visit the neighbors singing Christmas songs and receiving cookies and cakes in return for the concert. Now a days the newer tradition is to crush and eat the gingerbread house the family has made during Christmas. More and more people in Norway travel abroad for Christmas and New Year celebrations, and romjula has become the high season for many resorts.

Fireworks and Sweets at Åkes

Fireworks and Sweets at Åkes

Each year we spend romjula in our vacation home in Sweden. Even if there is snow the trip went slow but safe over the boarder to the place we call our little Paradise. My two sons are along for the trip, even though my oldest has moved out to study, he is now home for the holidays. We use this time to rest up after a hectic season before Christmas, and to build bonds and good memories with the family.

Among the activities which are the highlight of this period is the annual New Years Party which is a fast event here. We gather with our neighbors and everyone takes something with them to celebrate the evening. We usually provide some champagne and the fireworks. Hop on over to RennyBA’s Terella to see how we buy the fireworks which we send up ourselves!

Pretty pink Swedish godis

Pretty pink Swedish godis

While in this shop buying fireworks I found something else to take pictures of as well. Christmas is also one time of the year many loosen up their health restrictions and eat a bit of candy, Sweden is king of loose candy, or godis as it is called here. The Swedes are considered the best in the world to eat and make bulk candy. Each Swede ate approximately three kilograms of candy per person last year, a total 24,000 tonnes.

Just about one quarter of the selection

Just about one quarter of the selection

I didn’t buy any of this pretty candy, I just liked the colors for photographic purposes. I don’t crave this kind if candy but if it is in the house I will eat it! So we will buy a little bit tomorrow to celebrate New Years Eve but when it is eaten up it isn’t invited back into the house for a while! Mostly because Renny and the boys can eat a bit and leave it however I sneak out to the dish time after time.

Pretty colors, lots of sugar

Pretty colors, lots of sugar

We are enjoying a peaceful vacation – well except for the boys who are hold up in their room with their playstation 3 blowing people up in some video game or another….this I will never understand. However they did play online with a friend they have known since they went to the same babaysitter together when they were small, a friend who lives in NY while they were here in Sweden, and that part of it is kind of nice! Hope all of you are having a lovely holiday season, or Romjul as it is called here.

Traditional Christmas decorations in Sweden

Jeeze…you get a little busy, get caught up in your work for what seems like a couple of days and zip….Christmas is right around the corner. Okay maybe not right around the corner but it does seem to be everywhere you look these days. We have had a dusting of snow or two here but nothing major yet. Still we wanted to get into the holiday spirit this weekend while enjoying a weekend away with our friend TorAa we went to Vadsbo Museum in Mariestad, Sweden to see their Christmas market.

Old Fashioned Christmas Tree

Old Fashioned Christmas Tree

Although the market was small, it was filled with charming traditional Christmas decorations we wouldn’t find other places. I like the old fashioned ornaments because I think they have a whole other charm to them. Tradition and something simple to decorate the Christmas tree.

Hand made woven hearts

Hand made woven hearts

These handmade woven hearts are also common in Norway. They are not soooo easy to make, but we did them in Arts and Crafts this week at the center, so they aren’t that complicated either as long as you have the pattern.

Cremehus, paper cone ornaments

Cremehus, paper cone ornaments

These ornaments are of a variety I collect here in Norway, hung on an adorable miniature tree. Sometimes our Santa Claus hides some goodies inside these on the tree, so the children check them on Christmas day looking for treats. They are common in all the Scandinavian countries.

Traditional light decoration in Sweden

Traditional light decoration in Sweden

And finally no Swedish home would be complete without this light in the window. While Norwegians are more partian to Advent stars , the Swedish have long had this advent candle in the window, typically in an arch as you see here. We have one as well in our apartment in Sweden, and RennyBA and I set up our Christmas decorations before we left.

Hope you have enjoyed this short look at holiday traditions and it maybe put you into the Christmas spirit. If you are wondering I have not bought a single gift yet, and honestly I am not quite sure what I am buying, except for RennyBA’s gift….which is a nice secret. Have a good week my friends!

Autumn foilage photo hunt

Each year my husband, RennyBA, and I take a trip (or two or three) out for our fall foliage photo hunt. Blogging has added a new dimension to this pass time as we have become a bit more competitive while enjoying the autumn splendour. We are now in the middle of October and autumn is definitely here so the hunt is on! All photos are taken with my SonyEricsson G502 mobile telephone camera.

Golden leaves on the shores of Vänern

Golden leaves on the shores of Vänern

This year our quest for the peak colour of the season took us around the Göta Canal and Lake Vänern area in Sweden. This area has some great colour, and we happened to be using our vacation home for the weekend so we chose the area here instead of Oslo.

Göte Canal near Lyrestad, Sweden

Göta Canal near Lyrestad, Sweden

All along the Canal one can find the most charming little watch houses. This one is decorated in traditional Swedish fashion, notice the white frames around the windows and the special shape of the siding on the upper section of the house over the window. The Swedish are quite passionate about their gardens and decorating their homes, especially country homes and cottages.

Watchouse on Göte Canal

Watchouse on Göta Canal

Here you see the same watchhouse from the other side of the Canal.  Here you can see the draw bridge beside it which goes over the canal and must be opened to let taller boats through. If you wish to learn more about Göta Canal read RennyBA’s post, here you may learn the history of this architectial acheivement of the 1800’s.

Watchouse with a drawbridge

Watchouse with a drawbridge

Typically enough of any good chase. The catch was really in our own back yard…or rather our front yard. Here you see the most colorful maple tree standing right outside our window. But of course if we were satisfied with that we would have missed out on a whole day of fun!
You cant beat a Maple tree

You can't beat a Maple tree

Have a good week everybody! And thanks for stopping by!