Around here: Christmas 2013.

Our Christmas was calm and peaceful, the perfect culmination of a month filled with preparations and other Christmassy activities. On the eve of Christmas Eve we stayed up watching Love Actually in accordance with our tradition and I even managed to stay awake until the very end (!). Best Christmas film ever if you ask me, it’s actually one of my favourites in all categories.

I ended up skipping church on Christmas (Eve) morning this year because nobody else wanted to go. I’ve enjoyed the tradition of going there on Christmas morning these past fifteen years or so, but I came to the conclusion that it’s no longer a must for me either. Not going made the morning far less stressful and I even had time to help out with the final preparations in the kitchen as well as wrap some gifts (not from me) at the last minute.

By the time our guests arrived at one o’clock almost everything was good to go and we proceeded to stuff our faces with the most delicious Christmas food in the hours that remained before the Disney special on TV that most Swedes watch at 3 o’clock on Christmas Eve. While watching the show we devoured a pile of homemade sweets and I was delighted to find that the snickers I made on Monday was everyone's favourite.

What followed was a bunch of Santas coming and going, lol. Santa visited us a bit earlier than usual this year due to a scheduling conflict and while he was at our place Fanny the Santa went to visit our next door neighbours. Then our Santa left and Fanny the Santa and Ella the elf followed him to visit the kids at his house instead.

Once they came back we finished distributing the presents and then everyone got to open their gifts. I am very happy with mine, both the expected and unexpected ones.

My one complaint about Christmas is that it went by much too fast. I am so grateful that I have these photos to look back on. After a couple of years with mediocre Christmas photos at best I am so pleased with how they turned out this year. They are not perfect by any means, but still a vast improvement.

Now there’s New Years to look forward to. It’s an entirely different holiday and celebration that I am usually not a great fan of, but for once we have plans and I am excited :)

Around here: Boxing Day.

I hope everyone had a good Christmas! I sure did :) A big photo update is coming as soon as I can find the time. We came back home tonight and I have to work tomorrow and then it's the weekend which I am sure will be another busy one, and then it's almost New Years!

I wish I had tomorrow off like I had intended to because there's so much I want to do. Whenever I get home after having been away for a few days I get this urge to clean everything, even though my home is tidy, objectively speaking. It's especially bad if I am bringing back new things that I have to make room for, like today. Of course I am grateful for my Christmas gifts, but I want to make room for them and then I move other things to places that already hold different things and all of a sudden I've turned everything upside down. Usually I get overwhelmed at that point and put everything back where it was and just squeeze in the new things with the old things the best I can. I am the opposite of a hoarder, but our storage space is terribly limited and this autistic tendency of mine to want to sort everything by type/colour/size/field of application is both a curse and a blessing.

Anyway, I'd better end this because I have a day to waste in an office chair tomorrow. Thank goodness it's a Friday.

Around here: One day to go...

I went home yesterday morning to help mum with the Christmas preparations. Yesterday we made three batches of toffee and today we made hundreds of meatballs. This morning we decorated the tree. It's a bit small, but really cute. Mum didn't allow any pink ornaments this year, but I don't mind since my own tree is covered in pink. I don't have any red decorations myself so it's refreshing to see some in traditional colours back home. I love all of our old ornaments, most of which were a gift from my late aunt. They come in all colours, shapes and sizes and many of them bring back memories of those happy, carefree Christmases of my childhood ♥

Around here: Gingerbread house.

My weekend was a calm one. Other than going to Per's parents' place for dinner on Saturday and facing the crowds at the mall for a little while to finish up our Christmas shopping yesterday we just stayed home. Our main project of the weekend was building our first ever gingerbread house :) We designed it from scratch and decorated it with all the frosting and sprinkles we could find. It turned out much better than I dared to hope, especially after a Swedish TV channel reviewed gingerbread dough on Thursday evening and gave the one we had just bought the lowest grade (what are the odds?).

Per even installed a lamp in it once it was all done and just like that it turned into the most inviting little cottage :)

Photobooks: My finished 2012 photobook.

The week before last my 2012 photobook arrived and I finally got to reap the reward for all those hours spent editing photos and creating photobook pages. I am really happy with how it turned out. It was my third time ordering from Blurb and by now I've mostly figured out how to get the result I want.

As an added bonus I had my 2009 book reprinted in the 7 x 7 small square size. I ordered it from a different site back in the day since I got a free sample and I was never happy with how the colours came out and wanted the books to all look the same. Next year I am going to reprint my 2010 book as well. I did order it from Blurb but it contains many photos that are not so dear to my heart anymore. That's the one downside to printing photobooks rather than traditional scrapbooking - you can't just rip photos out or replace them after the book is finished without redoing the whole thing. I thought I'd have the 2010 book reprinted in the small square size but I think I am going to stick with the original 12 x 12 size because the 7 x 7 is just so tiny! It was great for the 2009 book though because I didn't take many photos back then and it's only 26 pages long. The 2011 and 2012 books are 116 pages each, on the other hand.

I will definitely be making another book like this for 2013, and I hope to keep making them. While I often glance longingly at the beautiful Project Life pages people post on Instagram and various blogs I know it's just not for me at this time in my life. I don't even own a printer and I don't really have the space for scrapbooking supplies either. Keeping it all in your computer works out so much neater when you live in a one bed apartment. That's not to say I won't try it out in the future though.

This year I have learned to streamline my photobook making process. When I did my 2011 pages I'd skip wildly from one part of the year to the next and ended up using a number of different fonts and templates and ended up with a book far less consistent than I'd like. On the other hand I scrapbooked 2012 chronologically, used the same couple of fonts throughout the book and templates that were similar to each other. I also started each new "chapter" of the book with one big photo on the left side and small ones on the right side. This all made the finished book more consistent than my 2011 one. I still use very few embellishments and prefer to let the photos stand out on their own but I do make good use of my large collection of backgrounds.

The 2012 book is the first one I've included photos from my phone in. I got my iPhone in early 2012 and at first I wasn't sure how I'd combine my many Instagram photos with the DSLR ones, but I figured out a method and the iPhone photos printed really well, too. Some were of lower resolution than they should have been but you can't tell from the finished pages. I will definitely be including iPhone photos in the future as well.

Technical details for those who are interested:
Company: Blurb
Size: 12 x 12 & 7 x 7.
Design software: I make all the pages in Photoshop and create the book through Bookify on the Blurb webpage.
Paper: Matte premium.
Cover: Wrap-around. I have always disliked dust covers on books so this choice is an easy one.

2013 Top 5

TV shows

Mad Men | The Office | Solsidan | Call the Midwife | Modern Family

After being behind for years I finally caught up with Mad Men. Having all those seasons to watch certainly brightened up those long wintery months at the beginning of the year. Now that The Office has ended I only download two shows - Modern Family and How I Met Your Mother, but I am not doing a great job keeping up with them. Instead I've started watching more TV on TV, something I never used to do. Most notably, I've discovered a couple of gems among the Swedish TV shows, as well as Call the Midwife earlier this year.

Honorable mentions (mini series)

Unsere Mütter, unsere Väter | Top of the Lake

This is another discovery that came with watching more TV, mini series. I think both of these were brilliant and I can definitely recommend them.


Despicable Me 2 | I Give It a Year | Monica Z | Ego | Mig äger ingen

If someone had told me a few years ago that I'd include so many Swedish films in my yearly top 5 one day I would have thought they were joking. This year I watched way more films than last year and there were many I enjoyed, but somehow the Swedish ones were some of the ones that stood out the most. Of course nothing could beat the long awaited Despicable Me 2 though, nor the brilliantly funny I Give It a Year.


And the Mountains Echoed | Water for Elephants | Carry On, Warrior: Thoughts on Life Unarmed | Bloom | The Rules of Inheritance

I've been slacking with my reading this year. Once I find a book I greatly enjoy I finish it in no time. That was the case with And the Mountains Echoed, for example. I was so excited when I learned Khaled Hosseini had published a new book because I loved his previous ones so much, and it did not disappoint. Actually I really enjoyed most of the books I finished in 2013. It's so hard for me to find books that truly draw me in these days though. I've started many books this year but never made it past the first few chapters. Since this is an area I'd like to improve in next year I'd appreciate some books recommendations. What are some of the best books you've read this year?

Around here: Progress report.

I feel like December snuck up on me this year and I fell behind with my Christmas preparations right from the start. I've been playing catch-up and now I am mostly right on schedule again though. I'm counting days and eating those little chocolates from the Advent calendar (that was purchased a few days late) and my Christmas cards have even been written and sent out (so keep your eyes open).

The windows are decorated and the Advent candles are lit.

In the living room the (artificial) tree is trimmed with an obscene amount of pink ornaments, even for me.

I am crossing presents off my to-buy lists slowly but steadily. The sisters are covered for, but I have a few items left to get for the others on my list.

Last night I surprised Per by bringing home the ingredients for saffron buns after work and most of the evening was spent baking. Once we were done we enjoyed a few (okay more than a few) still warm ones with milk while watching a the cutest documentary about penguins.

Next up: gingerbread cookies. Maybe even a house. And Christmas movies, all of them :)

Trips in 2013: Copenhagen.

This week sure is flying by! I get so confused by long weekends; on Tuesday I thought it was Wednesday and yesterday I kept thinking it was Tuesday and felt stressed when I realized I only had two more days left before the weekend. And now it's already Thursday evening. So here I am, updating about last weekend, just a day before the next one.

We had to get up earlier than we do on workdays on Saturday to finish preparing for the trip. Per went to pick up his parents from where they'd parked the car and this was when his father learned about the surprise trip we'd planned to celebrate his 60th birthday. He hadn't noticed the suitcase in the car and had been told they were just going to pick up something. He still didn't know where we were headed when we got on the train, and we never actually told him but he figured it out eventually.

Four hours later we got off the train in the Danish capital. As luck would have it our hotel was situated right next to our favourite chain restaurant, so that's where we had lunch before checking into the hotel. Once we'd got that sorted we went out for a walk on the main shopping street of Copenhagen, Strøget. It was very busy what with it being a Saturday afternoon in December so we didn't go into that many stores but preferred to take in the Christmas lights and decorations from the outside instead. One of the stores we did go into was the Disney store where I was excited to find a Sullivan plushie considering we'd watched Monsters University the previous night. We ended the day with dinner in the Nyhavn disctrict before walking back to the hotel.

We started our Sunday with a walk to the Torvehallerne market because Per's dad wanted to buy some Danish cheese (the kind that you can smell from miles away lol). I've been to Copenhagen more times than I can count but I have hardly ever ventured outside Strøget/Nyhavn and the Tivoli Gardens before so this market and the surrounding area was all new to me.

In the afternoon Per and I went back to Strøget to do some shopping and then in the evening it was time for the main event - our visit to the Tivoli Gardens. Other than stroll through the park and take in all the lovely Christmas lights and get a taste of all the delicious treats on offer Per and I got multi-ride tickets and went on the roller coasters and the 80 metre tall Himmelskibet. I thought we'd freeze half to death riding on roller coasters in December but the weather was quite mild and I wasn't cold at all until late in the evening when it was time to go home anyway.

On Monday morning we checked out of the hotel after breakfast and got on the train across the bridge. We didn't go home straight away but stopped at the huge mall Emporia in Malmö for a couple of hours. After lunch we got back on a train and made it home in the late afternoon. All in all it was a weekend for the books and everyone was so pleased with how it turned out.

I am so grateful that we went last weekend rather than this weekend because there are no trains running in the southern parts of the country due to a heavy storm and it's already getting in the way of my weekend plans involving another surprise celebration. At this rate we might even wake up to the first snow of the season tomorrow.