Weekend Coffee Share – The last week of summer vacation

Very close to the parking lot, right when you enter Rottnebyskogen there is a table and a fire pit. We could enjoy our coffee here, or take a walk into the nature reserve first, there are many places suitable for a coffee break.

Welcome to the Weekend Coffee Share! I am delighted that you are here 🙂 This week we’ve been picking blueberries in different nature reserve’s situated in the region of Dalarna, Sweden. I thought that we could enjoy our coffee in Rottnebyskogens nature reserve today. How about that? Would you like to come? There is coffee, tea, and water, along with some homemade taquitos to snack on.

At the entrance, inviting us to enjoy the forest and be mindful of plants and animals.

How are you? How is your week? The weather here have been around 70F most of the week, and perfect for berry picking. The blueberries are ripe in all the surrounding forests. I was planning on going a little further away for a couple days this week, and pick cloudberries, but my daughter wasn’t up for that idea. She really loves where we live, and this summer she have not felt any need of going anywhere else, meaning I’ve also stayed close to home. We have explored living locally all summer, and had a blast doing so. I can live without picking cloudberries. (I did enjoy waffles with cloudberry jam at a cafe last week.)

A short walk up the trail from the parking lot there is a beautiful covered fire pit and picnic area. There is currently a light drizzle, and if you would like to enjoy your coffee out of the weather we can sit here.
The surrounding forest is calming and refreshing. The air is so clean, you can almost touch the scent of the pine trees.

Before my children’s summer break started we sat down around the kitchen table and discussed their expectations and wants for their time off. I had looked into some suggestions that I thought would be positive experiences for our family beforehand, but my main goal was to listen to their thoughts. They both wanted to go swimming as much as the weather allowed, and explore different beaches in the region. Since we choose to not have a car that includes walking, or riding your bike (occasionally taking a bus if it is far away,) which makes me happy since one of the things I wanted for all of us was to get outdoors and exercise. They also wanted to have picnics, and have birthdays parties, and celebrate 4th of July in some way. This is my last (7th) week of vacation and it feels good to know that we visited several beaches together, and that both of them seem really happy about their summer so far. The weather have been most cooperative, all summer actually.

Rottnebyskogens nature reserve. The pine trees around us are about 200-250 years old. Blueberries often grow under pine trees as they offer rich, acidic pine litter for soil and mulch, something the blueberries like a lot.

Going into the summer I had some ideas of beautiful places a little further away in our region that I was thinking that we could visit, and I also had some camping trips planned, but the children enjoyed going swimming here close by so much that I didn’t feel a need to make the other trips happen. Happy and content is what matters, right? My son also went to his dad for a couple weeks. My daughter and I had a lot of time to talk, and hang out together. I am thrilled with how the summer turned out; lots of time with my children, time in nature, and plenty of time to read. I have spent a lot of time reading at the balcony, in the midst of my food forest (another source of happiness,) while my children have been busy with their own games and friends. I’ve also been riding my bike, and taking many walks in the forest by myself. I feel good, and ready to get back to work on Monday. 

I feel that all the time my daughter and I spent together this summer made our relationship even closer.

Do you need a refill on your beverage? Or maybe you would like to have some dessert? Serve yourself to some of the blueberries around us 🙂 Blueberries often grow under pine trees as they offer rich, acidic pine litter for soil and mulch, something the blueberries like a lot. The pine trees around us are about 200-250 years old. I love spending time in old forests like this. Are you comfortable? What’s you favourite type of nature? I really like mountains, but without forests I don’t think I would appreciate them as much as I do. I grew up in the mountains, but as I get older I find comfort in the forest in a way that is new to me. 

Wild blueberries picked in Dalarna, Sweden.

Speaking of nature, I am reading Everything you ever taught me, about a woman in her 50’s (no exact age are mentioned, this is my best guess,) hiking the Pacific Crest Trail 2020. I read about the book in Leanne’s coffee share a couple weeks ago, and ordered it right away. Thank you Leanne! I am halfway through the book right now, and intend to read the last half this weekend. It is written in a very honest and interesting way. If I had to say something that I don’t like about the book, it would be the layout, the pages are crowded, making it not very reader friendly. I still recommend the book since the story is fascinating. The PCT has a special place in my heart. I have hiked, and experienced several sections of the trail in California and Oregon on horseback. I have never hiked the entire length of the trail from Mexico to Canada (although there once was a plan to do so, that is a story for another day…) No-one hiking this trail could do so without being deeply touched by the landscape. 

Me riding a section of the PCT in the Sierra Nevadas (CA,) on my beloved horse Trigger, a little more than nine years ago (notice my big pregnant belly.) My ex-husband, a Marine, did not find anything strange with me riding through most of my pregnancy, something I was very grateful for. He did however carry the supplies on his horse without being asked, when I was pregnant that is. The Sierras are magical, but not a ride in the park.

After finishing this book I will be reading books related to special education needs for a while. I did get into the school I wanted to attend this fall semester. I will be studying Special Education and Social Emotional Difficulties, it’s for teachers that have worked a few years and want to further educate themselves on how to help children with special needs to a better education. I am going to work full time at my current job, and study part time on my own time. I know this will make me busy, but I am excited about adding new tools to my educational toolbox. My plan is that this course is the beginning of getting a degree in special education for young children. It’s going to take me a while to get the degree, as I am going to do it while working, but I do like having a goal. 

I rode my bike around Lake Varpan today. Several of my friends have told me it’s a nice ride, and it truly was. I can’t believe I haven’t done it before. There’s so many great trails in the proximity that I just forgot this one. I can easily see it becoming a new favourite. It’s about 18km/11miles around the lake, and an easy ride, with beautiful views of old cottages and the lake. It took me 50min, including a few stops to enjoy the views. I bet it is going to be amazing with fall colours in a month, or two, I’m going to have to find out!

Part of the road around Lake Varpan. I met seven bicyclist and saw about the same amount of cars, around lunch time Friday, so it wasn’t exactly crowded. I did see some horses, cows, goats, and a sign with fresh produce for sale as I was enjoying the scenery around Varpan.
Here’s the route, and you can see how close it is to my town Falun. You can also see some of the lakes, and forested green areas. There’s so many! About 70% of the region Dalarna is forest. Falun is the capital of Dalarna County.
Feeling most happy and content about how this summer turned out.

Enough sitting around, are you going to help me pick some blueberries? Thank you so much for the lovely company, and an extra thanks to Natalie for hosting the Weekend Coffee Share! I shared photos from another nature reserve earlier this week, that you can see here. If you are curious about how my daughter’s birthday cake turned out, the photos are here. Please share with me all the wonderful things in your world! Have a fabulous weekend! 

Love,

Maria 

Weekly Smile – A Practice of Gratitude

This week I am joining up with my friend Trent sharing a weekly smile with you. I really like the idea of thinking back upon things you are grateful for, something I try to do every day. Today I am really grateful for the past 6 weeks of vacation that I’ve been enjoying, and the remaining days of this last week of vacation.

This morning I went out to look for blueberries in the forest. There is plenty of blueberries this year, something I am very grateful for. Being able to forage blueberries and fill up the freezer with all the nutrients and antioxidants that will keep us healthy this winter is a blessing.

All the green foliage on the ground are wild blueberry bushes. I will admit that I offer my daughter a small incentive for every litre (about 2.2lbs) of blueberries that she picks. It motivates her, and she feels important, knowing that she actually makes a difference for our family. It’s like giving her a summer job I think.

I feel wonderful when I am in the forest, and those times when I manage to get my daughter to come with me she feel wonderful as well, and we share many smiles and laughters.

We recently watched a documentary about forest bathing. It was very interesting. I’ve practiced this my whole life, without knowing that it was a thing. I’ve notice that it makes a huge different in my well-being, and in my childrens well-being when we spend time in nature, compared to those busy times when we need to remind ourselves that it is high time to get outdoors.

“Forest bathing is not just for the wilderness-lover; the practice can be as simple as walking in any natural environment and consciously connecting with what’s around you. For a more structured experience, you can join trained guides for a meditative two- to three-hour ecotherapy excursion.”  

National Geographic

I’ve been really getting into mountain biking this summer, something I used to enjoy a lot as a teen growing up in the mountains. The past two weeks of my vacation I’ve been stepping out of my comfort zone when it comes to difficulty of the trails I ride. I decided that it was time to get a better helmet. I tried it out for the first time this morning, and I am very happy with the fit, and that it keeps my head cool. Hopefully I never have to find out if the Mips safety system works, but it is suppose to be the safest there is for helmets nowadays. (Riding my mountain bike has to be safer than riding wild mustangs anyway, right?)

Before heading to higher elevation this morning there was an area of beautiful fern growing on both sides of the trail. I think ferns are so beautiful when they are healthy and lush like this. I hope you are smiling with me. What are you grateful for today?

Love,

Maria

Weekend Coffee Share – Really getting into vacation mode..week 6

How awesome that you choose to join me for coffee this weekend! Come on out to my balcony. Let’s enjoy some time catching up while sipping some strong coffee, ice tea, or maybe something stronger (it is the weekend after all.) How is your week? What have you been up to? 

Several of my tomato plants are starting to shift colour.

Have you noticed that the tomatoes finally are starting to turn red? My daughter has a birthday on Sunday, and as usual she wants Mexican food at her party (a very small one this year as well, with me and her brother as only guests.) It would be fabulous if I could serve a side salad with our own sweet tomatoes. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for that, two days left, I think it is very possible. Besides the Mexican food that she always wants for her birthday, there is going to be cake of course. Last year she wanted to make the cake herself, this year she wants me to make it. I have very specific instructions for the cake. It’s going to be a five layer cake with three layers of soft angel cake, and two layers of red velvet cake. There’s going to be homemade creamy vanilla pastry cream between the layers, and a fresh creamy lime pastry cream on the outside, at the top of the cake she wants a layer of marzipan and her name in chocolate..and candles of course. I’ve promised to do my best…we’ll see. On Tuesday we visited a second hand shop that sometimes have gorgeous kitchen items for almost nothing. We were looking for a cake plate big enough for her monster cake. We scored a pretty one for the hefty sum of about fifty cents. LOL. I’ll try to post some photos of the cake on Sunday. I don’t make cakes so often nowadays, but I do enjoy the artistic part. 

My daughter planted an avocado seed this spring, and it is actually growing. I planted some avocado seeds in California, that grew taller than me in a couple years, but I didn’t have them long enough for them to bear any fruit. Watching the process of something you planted from a seed is enjoyable.
Another experiment that my daughter has on the balcony, a lemon seed she planted early June.

It’s been a very pleasant week weather wise here in Dalarna, Sweden. We’ve had no summer thunderstorms this week, and the temperatures have been between 75-80F, just perfect. This week my time have been divided between mountain biking in a nearby nature reserve area, and reading an interesting series of books about a midwife in Stockholm (lazily enjoying the days at my balcony with a glass of ice tea next to me.) What’s the weather like in your neck of the woods?

I’ve spent a lot of time mountain biking at Lugnets nature reserve this week.

My daughter and I met a cousin of mine and her boyfriend, and my aunt, at a cafe with an outdoor seating area today. My cousin and I haven’t seen each other since before Covid started, and it was even longer since I saw my aunt. It was wonderful catching up with them. We kept a safe distance at all times, and there were no hugs, but still so very nice to see them in person. My cousin visited me both in Las Vegas and California when I lived there, we have many amazing memories together. 

Thank you so much for the lovely company, and an extra thanks to Natalie for hosting the weekend coffee share! Please share with me all the wonderful things in your world! Have a fabulous weekend! 

Love,

Maria 

Exploring Dalarna – Lugnets Nature Reserve, Falun

Lugnets nature reserve area is a short walk, or bike ride from my house. I rode my bike there today, five minutes after locking my front door I entered the closest trail in the trail system. It really is an amazing area, with both easy trails (hiking/horseback riding/mountainbike,) and some more challenging. There is also a big sport complex, ski jumps, ski-tracks for cross country skiing in the winter, and a swimming hall. Joining my friend Terri for her Sunday Stills with the theme Evergreen I’m sharing some photos from today.

The pine trees takes over at higher elevation, at lower elevation there is a mix of trees, and some wet lands.
There are so many trails, and I love the fact that I still have a lot left to explore. In fact the close proximity to this nature reserve and all the lakes are reason enough for me to really enjoy life here in this part of Dalarna.
The green soft “carpet” under the trees are mainly blueberry bushes. The blueberries are coming. I ate some while in the forest today. Within the next few weeks the abundance will be plentiful.

I hope you enjoyed this visit to Lugnets nature reserve area in Falun, Sweden. I also hope you are enjoying the great outdoors this summer! Are you? Tell me about your favourite place to enjoy nature in a comment!

Love,

Maria

Weekend Coffee Share – Summer Time Fun!

Welcome to a warmer than usual Weekend Coffee Share. Let’s sit down by the water. This is one of my favourite views along a trail I walk/run/ride my bike along several times a week. What kind of beverage can I get you? Something cold? There is ice coffee, ice tea, watermelon smoothies, bottled water, and of course some hot coffee as well to choose from. 

As I mentioned it’s been warmer than usual this week, pushing 90F most days, and humid almost every day. I don’t think 90F is bad at all, just warm for a Swedish summer. What’s the weather like in your area? 

My daughter kayaking earlier this week.
Lake Varpan, same lake we visited last week but a different location.

It’s been an active week with a lot of going to the beach, swimming, kayaking, walking, yoga, and bike-riding. I even went out for a run a couple times, but I prefer walking, or riding my bike.

This morning I rode my bike to Falu Copper Mine.

Falun Mine (Swedish: Falu Gruva) was a mine in FalunSweden, that operated for a millennium from the 10th century to 1992. It produced as much as two thirds of Europe’s copper needs[1] and helped fund many of Sweden’s wars in the 17th century. Technological developments at the mine had a profound influence on mining globally for two centuries.[2] The mine is now a museum and in 2001 was designated a UNESCO world heritage site.

wikipedia.org/wiki/Falun_Mine

A couple days we participated in a  free summer event that our town arrange for kids 8-15 years old. The event is every day except Sundays, at our local beaches, starting this week, different beaches different days. We have many beaches in, and near our town. The beach events starts with swimming classes, and after that the kids can try different water activities. My daughter was hesitant to go to the event the first day, but when we got there she didn’t want to leave, and we ended up spending more than six hours in the water that day. I think it’s a great initiative from our town to teach water safety, and give all children fun things to do during their summer break. 

Early morning walk earlier this week.

It has been another wonderful week of vacation, and lovely weather. Everyone is happy and healthy, I cannot ask for much more. How is your week so far? What have you been up to? Tell me in a comment!

Thank you Natalie for hosting the coffee share!

Love,

Maria 

Weekend Coffee Share – Swedish Fika

If we were having a fika (essentially Swedish for coffee and a conversation,) I would offer you a beverage of your choice; coffee from the french press, ice tea, or a smoothie. I’ve incorporated a new healthy habit into our summer routine, every evening I prepare breakfast smoothies for the next morning. Right now I’m having a smoothie with; baby spinach, avocado, banana, pear, pre-soaked chia seeds and almond milk. It’s really good, and there is an extra one for you in the fridge if you’d like to try. My daughter likes to prepare her own smoothie, something I encourage. She had mango, strawberry, banana, and almond milk this morning. 

My breakfast smoothie with; baby spinach, avocado, banana, pear, pre-soaked chia seeds and almond milk.

Would you like to enjoy our beverages at the balcony? There is slightly more space there now. My plants were growing so much that I had to find new homes for some of them this week, they were taking over. I put an ad up on a local sale site, (sort of like craigslist.) It didn’t take long to sell the plants I wanted to sell. One lady that came over to purchase plants offered me to come to her house and take some cuttings from her blackcurrants, and gooseberry bushes. I am going to take her up on that. I’d like to have more perennials, and berry bushes are wonderful. There is still a lot of plants at my balcony, and soon it will be crowded again, but for now there is room for our feet. LOL. How is your week so far? 

Lake Varpan, Dalarna (Sweden.)

There are several lakes around where I live, and with the lakes comes a lot of seagulls. They are very loud, especially at night, during the day you only hear them occasionally, but at night they are really loud. I’ve been sleeping on a mattress in my daughters room several nights this week, because its slightly more quiet there (more in the middle of the house.) Whatever works, right? The loud seagulls is a very small matter, overall I am happy, relaxed, and enjoying my vacation immensely. My children are also enjoying their well deserved summer holidays, which makes me very happy. Both of them have worked really hard this past semester. My son had a birthday in June that we celebrated, and my daughter have a birthday later this month. I’ve spent some time this week planning things for her birthday. 

Gullnäsgården, a very quaint lakeside cafe, with a beach.

What is the weather like in your area? This summer have offered even temperatures, it’s been between 73-77F most days for several weeks. It looks like today is going to be around 77F. The lakes have temperatures around 70F now, and it is very comfortable. We like to go swimming, and playing in the water. Yesterday we went to Gullnäsgården, the place you can see in the photos. It is a ten minute bike ride from our house, and a very nice place to relax at. The property belongs to one of the local churches. They allow people to spend time there, even if they don’t visit the cafe (it’s a very nice cafe and worthy of a visit,) or rent a cabin. I like that they don’t allow wild parties, making it appealing to visit with children even in the evening.

The menu, and part of the outdoor seating area at the cafe.
The beach area below the cafe. We enjoyed our ice creams on the beach before going for a swim.

Thank you for joining me for a fika today, and thank you Natalie for hosting the coffee share! We are going out to look for some blueberries this weekend, rumour says they start to become ripe, what are you up to?

Love,

Maria