Weekend Coffee Share – Life is good

Can I offer you some coffee? Or tea? It’s a beautiful fall weekend in my part of Sweden, around 50F/10C. We’ve had a mostly cloudy week, with some rain. The trees are still glorious with golden yellow, and orange colours. Even though I am a single mom of two, working full time, I make time for walking in nature every day. I need that recharge of my mental batteries on a daily basis. Did you have a chance to enjoy nature this week? What is the weather like in your corner of the world?

Walking home from work yesterday.

Work and school have been great this week, very rewarding. My family is in good health. My projects are going in the right direction. I even started a new little project, crocheting a winter hat for a baby boy (not yet born.) I’ll post photos when the project is done, after gifting the hat to my pregnant friend. 

One of my favourite trails last Sunday.

My heart is filled with gratitude. After sleeping in to almost 7am (!) I deep cleaned my entire home this morning. (7am I almost midday for me. LOL. I was extremely tired yesterday.) The weeks laundry is done. Grocery shopping taken cared of, I had groceries for the next three weeks delivered on Thursday. I’m definitely ready for a fabulous weekend! I have school books to read, but I am ahead of my schedule, nothing is really pressing. I’m going to spend time with my children this weekend, ride my bike, do some blogging, and prepare healthy meals for next week. Perhaps I’ll rearrange some plants around the house. How is your week?

A groove of young aspen trees close to work.

Have a refill on your beverage and tell me about your weekend plans! Thank you Natalie for hosting the Weekend Coffee Share! Have a fabulous weekend! 

Love,

Maria 

Weekend Coffee Share

There is a lot of reading (for school) going on at my house this weekend, but I would be most happy to take a little break and enjoy a beverage with you. Let’s sit here by the window. The leaves on the birch and aspen trees outside display such lovely fall colours. We do not eat a lot of candy at our house, but this weekend my daughter and I are splurging a little, my son is visiting his dad and it’s just us girls and hundreds of pages that needs to be read (mostly for me, but my daughter has some homework as well.) I figure some candy would make it a little more fun. Have some!

How is your week? I’d say that we’ve had a great, productive week so far. A good mix between work and play. I had a teacher’s seminar with my colleagues on Thursday, it went very well and we got a lot of things done. The school I work for is a private school and it aims to be in the lead when it comes to young children’s education. We, the teachers, and other employees, get educated on a regular basis to constantly improve our work. I really like that! We are expected to work hard and show good results, but I think that they provide good tools for us. It’s a rewarding job in many ways.

Have a refill on your beverage and tell me about your weekend plans! Thank you Natalie for hosting the Weekend Coffee Share! Have a fabulous weekend! 

Love,

Maria 

Weekend Coffee Share

A thermos with coffee and the Swedish pastry “dammsugare”.

Can I get you some coffee, or maybe some tea? Let’s sit down by the lake. I brought a traditional Swedish pastry dammsugare, if you’d like to give it a try? Dammsugare means vacuum cleaner. In the old days the baker made these pastries by the end of the week, he basically took all his leftover, poured some alcohol on it, mixed it, added some chocolate, and used the mix inside these pastries. The outside is marzipan, and the ends are dipped in chocolate. I am sure there’s no old leftovers in these ones 🙂 You should give it a try! 

The weather is absolutely lovely, around 65 and sunny today. My daughter and I took a walk to the closest little lake today, we just got back a few minutes ago. The photo of the thermos and the pastry is only one hour old as I am writing this. The week have been a mix of rain, wind and sunshine. It’s definitely fall. What’s the weather like in your area? 

So far it’s been a wonderful week. Everyone is healthy. Things are going great at work. My kids are doing great. I’ve been working on an assignment for the class I’m taking. It’s due on Monday. I’m pretty much finished, just going to proof read it a few more times. How are you doing? Are you having a good week?

I’m going to do some things around the house today, listen to music, and help my daughter with her homework. Tomorrow I’m going to meet a very special friend of mine that I haven’t seen in almost ten years, I’m really looking forward to that. Have a refill on your beverage and tell me about your weekend plans! Thank you Natalie for hosting the Weekend Coffee Share! Have a fabulous weekend! 

Love,

Maria 

Weekend Coffee Share…a very quiet cuppa together

Coffee, or tea?

If we were having coffee, or tea together this weekend you would have to do most of the talking. Why, you said. Well, you see I’ve lost my voice. I don’t believe that ever happened to me before. I feel pretty good, but my voice gradually disappeared this week. On Monday and Tuesday morning it took a while for my voice to warm up. I felt great, and didn’t think much about it. (When you talk a lot at work your voice sometimes get tired, and you sound like the day after a big concert with your favourite artist. That’s just how it is.) On Wednesday it took even longer, and my voice still sounded scratchy when I arrived to work. My voice was kind of OK, but after breakfast when I was leading an activity with the children I all of a sudden couldn’t talk at all without coughing (like where did that come from?) Within the next few minutes it got worse and worse, and I decided to go home. It all happened very fast. First of all, I couldn’t do my job, since being a teacher involves a whole lot of talking, second I didn’t want to get anyone sick if this was the beginning of something. I took a Covid test the next day, just to be sure, but it came out negative. My voice isn’t completely back yet, but as long as I don’t talk, I’m doing OK. I’m going to keep quiet this weekend, and hope for the best. I don’t think it’s anything serious. It’s weird though, not being able to talk. I didn’t like it at all, having to leave work on Wednesday. I stayed at home with my daughter only a couple weeks ago, and missing more work is not good. I don’t mean to complain so much. Complaining is not my thing.

How is your week?

On a more positive note, this is what’s growing in my balcony garden right now. At the top there’s an oregano/apple-mint tea mix (its heavenly, really lovely,) celery, figs and (hopefully) winter veggies. I posted a photo of my bell-peppers last weekend, and they are still doing great as well.

If we were having coffee this weekend I would have to tell you that we had some kind of breakthrough with my daughter this week. At least it feels like that, not saying that everything is going to be all smooth sails from now on, but I think her father and I got her to understand why speaking Swedish in Sweden is mandatory and not a choice. She understood that we expect her to do her best at all times, and accept the help she is offered. Tuesday morning she woke up so angry and the whole morning was a disaster. The girl has some drama in her! She screamed and throw a fit the whole way to the bus stop (2km)..phew. After that it was like all the anger had disappeared, and my sweet girl was back. I sure hope she stays. (Most of the time I’m the best mom in the whole universe, according to her, but when I’m not…it’t not fun to be in my shoes.)

Have a refill on your beverage and tell me about your weekend plans! The only plan here is to recover my voice, read and write a bit. Thank you so much for staying with me, and an extra thanks to Natalie for hosting the Weekend Coffee Share! Have a fabulous weekend! 

Love,

Maria 

Weekend Coffee Share

Spinach/apple smoothie

Do you dare to try a spinach/apple smoothie? Or should I head out to the kitchen and make you a coffee? Tea? Or maybe you’d rather take a short walk down to the old cobblestone streets of our town and go out for a coffee? To be honest, I have not been out a whole lot since Covid started, but all the café’s and restaurants are open. Lately I’ve felt a longing to sit at a cafe and slowly sip a delicious beverage, something I used to enjoy from to time to time before the pandemic. Still there’s this other side of me that tells me that I should continue to be careful a little longer. 

How is your week so far? It’s already mid weekend here (we are 6-10 hours ahead of my friends in the US, depending on time zone.) Work has been busy as usual, busy and good. Most of my free time this week have been dedicated to my daughter that has a (hopefully) temporary breakdown about living in Sweden. It’s hard to deal with. She is stressed and refuses to speak Swedish, which naturally complicates things since we live in Sweden now. She’s always preferred to speak English, but still tried her best with Swedish. Her Swedish is pretty good, but she doesn’t speak like a native, and now she refuses completely. She has a new teacher that she strongly dislikes (to put it mildly,) and that doesn’t help. Every morning have been a battle this week. My heart goes out to her, she’s always loved school and adored all her previous teachers. Now she don’t want to go to school at all. We could let her start a new school, closer to home, but at this time she doesn’t want that. I have talked to her teacher, she gives me one version, and my daughter another. My main goal this weekend is to make my daughter feel good about herself and school next week. Unfortunately there’s a ton of schoolwork we have to finish, since she refused to do it at school. Of course I’m not OK with her refusing to do the work her teacher tells her too. I just can’t do much more than reasoning with her when I’m with her. At this point no logical reasons matter to her. I believe it may be some underlaying loyalty towards her dad, that she haven’t seen in more than two years due to the pandemic. For that reason I arranged for the two of them to talk about the situation at school over the phone today. They talked for a long time. Her dad told her all the reasons I told her, why she needed to learn, and speak Swedish while in Sweden. The fact that we both agreed upon this matter made her even more devastated. It’s going to take some real effort to get over this hurdle. I’m OK, its just heartbreaking to see one of your children struggle like this, and to hear over and over that she wants to live in the US a gazillion times a day.

The weather have been wonderful this week, 65-70F. Nature is still showing off gorgeous flowers. I always stop at least a couple times on my way to/from work to really admire the beauty of nature close-up.

Have a refill on your beverage and tell me about your weekend plans! 

Thank you so much for staying with me, and an extra thanks to Natalie for hosting the Weekend Coffee Share! Have a fabulous weekend! 

Love,

Maria 

Weekend Coffee Share

I’m having hot coffee today, what can I get you?

Welcome to the Weekend Coffee Share! Can I offer you some coffee? Or tea? There is ice tea in the fridge if you’d like some, but I’m definitely going for some hot, black coffee today. 

Fall is on its way here. We’ve had a high of 10-15C/50-55F this week. Tomorrow it’s suppose to be 21C/70F and partly sunny, giving us perhaps the last day of summer? Earlier this week we’ve had some rainy and very windy days, and some days with a tiny little bit of sun. I like fall weather, except the very windy days. There is a long downhill slope on the bike trail I take on my way home from work, on Thursday afternoon the wind was blowing so hard in my face that I had to work really hard going down that big hill. I think that was the windiest day. (Naturally the wind was blowing in the opposite direction when I was going to work in the morning.)

The garden are showing signs of fall as well. The cold nights are stunting new growth, and many leaves are starting to yellow. 

Today’s harvest
I’m thinking it’s time to make some green tomato/ginger marmalade, it’s SO good with some cheese on salty crackers.
More green tomatoes.

I picked the red tomatoes in the first photo today, but I have maybe 6kg/13lbs of green tomatoes left. I’m thinking of picking all the green tomatoes today, and make green tomato/ginger marmalade. I made it for the first time last year, and it was SO good. 

Last years green tomato/ginger marmalade

Speaking of my garden, I’ve planted some cold weather crops for a winter garden; celery, cauliflowers, and parsnip. It’s an experiment, we’ll see. I might plant some more cold weather crops, like broccoli perhaps. I am definitely going to plant some garlic this fall as well. 

Living in an apartment I don’t have enough space at my balcony to be self-sufficient on vegetables, or legumes. I grew some beans this year, they were delicious, and they are all long gone. Last year about this time I ordered a few big bags of different types of dried beans, and lentils from an organic wholesale site. I decided to do the same this year, minus the lentils since I still have some left. I received them yesterday; 5kg/11lbs black beans, 5kg/11lbs kidney beans, and 5kg/11lbs garbanzo beans. I also ordered a 1lbs bag of an organic sprouting seed mix, that I love having on my sandwiches, in my salads, and as topping on soups. It feels good to be stocked up on the basics. Next month I’m hoping to score some locally grown turnip and carrots, they are being harvested in September and are usually very inexpensive to purchase in bulk during harvest time. Hopefully I will be able to grow all my own beans, and veggies myself in the future. For now this works great.

What have you been up to this week? There is a big Covid outbreak in town. One class at my daughters school is closed. When I picked her up on Thursday she had a sore throat and a stuffed nose. I ordered a Covid test for her, she’s going to take the test on Monday morning at a nearby medical center. (Tests are actually done in a tent outside the medical center, to avoid spreading the virus.) Adults do self tests at home if they have symptoms, but children aren’t allowed to do that. My son started to feel ill today, he is also going to get tested. I hope they just have a cold. (I feel great.) There’s so much to do at work now with the startup of a new group and a new semester. I am leading my team from home the best I can when I cannot be at work physically, but it is difficult. Especially in the beginning of a new semester I think it’s extremely important to lead by example, which is hard to do from home. My colleagues do know that they can call me anytime for support, and input when I’m at home, and they do. I also know that they are doing a great job, but still..

Have a refill on your beverage and tell me about your weekend plans! Thank you so much for the lovely company, and an extra thanks to Natalie for hosting the Weekend Coffee Share! Have a fabulous weekend! 

Love,

Maria 

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 

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, Sweden

The clean water of Lake Siljan

We’ve decided to explore the beautiful region of Dalarna (where we live,) this summer. Today we went to the picturesque town of Rättvik, right by lake Siljan. The water in Siljan was rather cold, but it was a wonderful day. We enjoyed a picnic on the beach.

We visited the local art and craft store, where I found a gorgeous book with water colour paintings of edible and medicinal plants.

Everything in Rättvik was so beautiful, that we didn’t even go on the hike I had planned for the day… I guess we have to come back. It’s less than one hour from where we live, I think we can manage that rather easily.

This post is part of my friend Terri’s series Sunday Stills, this week’s theme being The Great Outdoors. It’s been a fantastic day today! How is your day?

Love,

Maria