Weekend Coffee Share – Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! This is the last Weekend Coffee Share this year! Natalie The Explorer are taking a well deserved break from hosting the Weekend Coffee Share for a couple weeks, but I figure if someone still wants to have nice warm cup you are more than welcome to my home. Can I get you some coffee? Or tea? 

How are you? What is the weather like in your neck of the woods? Did you have a white Christmas? I hope Christmas was absolutely wonderful! I can’t believe that we’ve came to the last day of this year already! Since this is the last time we have coffee (or tea,) together this year many would consider it proper to make some kind of summary of the year. 

I’m going to make mine short: I am grateful. 

I am grateful that everyone in my family have been reasonably healthy, (manifesting excellent health for next year!)

I am grateful for this precious time with my children.

I am grateful that we have a safe, healthy, and beautiful place to call home.

I am grateful for my friends.

I am grateful for my workplace, the children at work that I am blessed to have interesting conversations with every day, and my wonderful colleagues. 

I am grateful for all the amazing nature, and fresh air I’ve enjoyed 2021.

I am grateful for my bike.

I am grateful that I manage to live within my means every month. 

I am grateful for all the books I devoured this year, and the value they’ve added to my life.

I am grateful that I could experiment with balcony gardening 2021.

Least but not last, I am grateful for the little adventure my daughter and I just had.

Maria “Green Dreams” 2021
My daughter and I, on the train at the beginning of our adventure.

I’ve told you that I had a surprise adventure planned for my daughter, but I didn’t tell you what it was. It was a trip to Jämtland, the region I grew up in. (I was born here in Dalarna, where I live now, but I grew up in Jämtland. My mother moved there with me and my little sister, after divorcing my dad.) I wanted to keep the trip a surprise for several reasons, I had a trip planned for last Christmas, but the recommendations due to the pandemic made me cancel that trip. We haven’t had any lockdowns here in Sweden, but everyone is expected to follow the recommendations from our public health agency. I feared that something like last year might happen again, therefor I choose not to tell my daughter about this trip, to not disappoint her. I figured, if the trip was possible, who doesn’t like a fun surprise?

We had to change trains one time at the beginning of our journey, only one hour from home, in the city of Gävle. We had one hour to spend as we please while waiting for our final train, that took us all the way to Östersund. We decided to check out this incredible building and the cafe inside of it.

Our current recommendations from the public health agency of Sweden due to the pandemic are; to stay at home if you have any symptoms/get tested, keep your distance to people in public places, get vaccinated (of course,) wash your hands often and use hand sanitizer. Some indoor events demands a Covid Pass showing proof of vaccination, that is a new thing and not so common yet, I’ve only seen a couple places asking for that. In general most people are very respectful towards others, they make sure to keep an acceptable distance, and we live an almost normal life. 

The most climate friendly way to travel in Sweden, not counting walking, or riding your bike, is taking the train. Our trains runs on 100% renewable energy, primarily from water power, and partly from wind power. That said, we took the train to Jämtland. I’ve always enjoyed taking the train, being able to enjoy the landscape and relax before arriving at your destination. I have hundreds of found memories from childhood-adulthood taking the train to relatives, to friends, to the mountains, to explore new places, to school, to work etc. It’s a wonderful way to wind down, and start your vacation with peace of mind. The seats are comfortable and the food on the trains are delicious. I tried a new vegan pasta dish at the train restaurant this time, and it was one of the best pasta dishes I’ve ever had. My daughter enjoyed her pancakes very much. There is Wifi on most trains. Our journey took about five hours, and my daughter did not have a chance to get bored, we looked at the landscape, visited the restaurant, and she watched a movie. I never had the opportunity to bring out the deck of cards I packed, the books, or the drawing material. It was her first longer train trip, and I purposely choose to take a train during daytime, for her to see more of Sweden. The night trains are wonderful as well, you can choose your comfort level on those, there are budget tickets where you have a regular seat (just like the day trains,) luxury private rooms with comfortable beds and first class breakfast served in the morning, and everything in between. They also have a movie theatre on those trains. In my early 20’s I lived in Gothenburg and had a yearly ski pass in Åre (Jämtland) every year, getting on the night train Friday night after work, went snowboarding Saturday and Sunday, taking the night train back to Gothenburg on Sunday evening, going straight to work Monday morning. I did this at least 2-3 weekends/month during the winter. When you are under 26 the train tickets are really cheap. If you are over 26 it costs a little more, but if you plan ahead it is not bad at all, the prices are cheaper the earlier you book your tickets. 

Östersund harbour, a frozen lake Storsjön, with Frösö slalombacke/ski slope in the background.

The most important things with our trip this time was to spend time with my little sister, and give my daughter some wonderful experiences of Sweden. There was in particular one place I wanted to take her to, where my mom used to take me as child. Jamtli (the name of the place,) deserves its very own post. When we arrived in Östersund, the major city of Jämtland, where I went to school, my sister met us at the train station and we walked to Badhusparken. It’s a beautiful park next to lake Storsjön, one of Swedens largest lakes. It was 5F/-15C and after a while we decided to enjoy a hot meal at 2inspire – Ecocaféet, a nearby restaurant. The food and the atmosphere there is amazing. My sister is a regular at this place, and I would be too, if I lived in Östersund. 

The main shopping street in Östersund.

My little sister gave me a thoughtful gift during our visit, a beautiful reading journal. You can’t tell by looking at the photos, but the book cover is wrapped in a fabric with a very special texture. I can’t wait to fill the pages of this journal with the books that are going to enrich my life in 2022. Since this is becoming a rather long post, I am going to make another post about the rest of our trip within the next couple days. 

Last year I promised myself to think about our planet when I make choices, big and small; when it comes to what kind of energy sources I choose, how I travel, what I eat, and my shopping habits in 2021. I am happy with the way I honoured that promise, and it is a way of life I am committed to continue living every day. That will be my renewed New Year’s Resolution 2022. Are you going to make any New Year’s Resolutions? If you need some ideas there’s some good ones here.

Happy Green Dreams New Year!



New Year=New Haircut

Weekend Coffee Share – The Christmas Edition

Merry Christmas! Natalie The Explorer takes a well deserved break from the Weekend Coffee Share for a couple weeks, but I figure if someone still wants to have nice warm cup you are more than welcome to my home. Can I get you some coffee? Or tea? 

One of my colleagues gifted me this excellent Christmas coffee in a beautiful gift wrapping. Would you like to try it? It has a hint of cardamom, chocolate and orange. I really like it!

How are you? I hope the holidays are bringing peace and joy to you, and your loved ones. It is a happy week at our house. We’ve been making more gingerbreads, and another gingerbread house (don’t know exactly what kind of tornado the house was exposed to. LOL.)

We had our Christmas dinner last Sunday, before my son left for a week with his dad. The dinner was a success. We made a turkey in the oven with all the fixings, and some Swedish dishes as well. We’ve been enjoying leftover this week, and added some more yummy food every day. There have been lots of good food all week. In Sweden we celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve, the 24th. My daughter wanted to do it the American way and asked Santa to come on the 25th, so he did..In the process of making our own Christmas tradition we are having Mexican food on the 25th. We’ve had that for a couple years, since it is my daughters favourite cuisine. 

A chilly walk earlier this week. It was about 10F with a light breeze.
My daughter loves all animals, and I swear that these ducks recognise her. They always comes running at full speed right up to her.

Luckily we are enjoying some wonderful time outdoors as well, considering all the good food, we better get some exercise this holiday season. I have a surprise adventure planned for my daughter for next week. To not spoil the surprise I will tell you next weekend. I can tell you this much, my hopes are high, and I am excited!

An iconic view of Falun from earlier this week, with the ski jumps in the background, our most famous landmark.

I received some very happy news earlier this week, I got accepted into the school I applied to for my Degree of Master of Science, Main Field of Study: Educational Work. I am starting in January, right after handing in my last assignment in the current class I am taking in Special Education and Social Emotional Difficulties. Adding new skills and knowledge makes my work more meaningful to me (makes me try harder to always do my best,) and hopefully it makes a difference to all the children I meet on a daily basis. I am super happy that I got accepted to this program, despite a smaller mishap leading me to handing in my application a few hours too late (totally out of character for me.) If I succeed keeping up with the pace of the school it is going to take me two years to get my degree, while I am working full time at my regular job. I have a permanent position at a job that I love, and I won’t give that up, I am only looking to add some knowledge.

There are miles and miles of these walking/biking paths taking you everywhere you need to go around town, and some leading you out of town. Having a car in our town isn’t really necessary. So far I’ve managed very well without a car for the two years I’ve lived here. There is a car pool where you can borrow cars and trucks when you need them, and I was planning on using the car pool when I had a need for a vehicle. So far I haven’t had any real need. I am grateful that there is a car pool, and I am sure I will use it at some point in the future.
Our living room this morning.

However you decide to enjoy your holiday, I wish you a very Merry Christmas!