Saturday, January 19, 2008

... and we're in the living room!

Even though we haven't quite finished the dining room yet, we have now moved into the living room. It is just so much fun to get some paint on the walls that it is difficult to stop. This color is called "green tea" and will match our black TV and IKEA furniture well.

Sometimes it feels like we are participants in a never-ending show on the cable channel called "HGTV" (Home and Garden Television). There's everything from "Divine Design," "Find Your Style," "Design Star" and "Color Correction" to "Spice Up My Kitchen," "Buy Me" and "What's With That House?"

My favorites, however, are "House Hunters," "My First Place" and "Property Virgins." Since this is the first home where I have been allowed to "do" stuff, it is all very exciting.

I have to apologize to my friends for not being more social, but now at least you know why.

Monday, January 14, 2008

New keyboard with 'Santa Lucia'

Albie's mom and aunt gave me a piano keyboard for Christmas. It is awesome, and it has all these cool songs recorded on it that you can learn how to play.

The day the Casio arrived, Albie had set it up for me in the guest room. He looked at the song selection and shouted out "Santa Lucia!"

I looked at it close up and sure enough, there it was: "No. 43 - Santa Lucia." Right between "La Paloma" and "Troika."

"Let's play it!" I said, doubting it would really be the traditional Swedish Lucia song.

Well, it was. The tempo was a little strange, but the melody was the same. I immediately started singing the Swedish words at the top of my lungs. Albie sighed and left the room.


We've made some progress with our dining room. The walls are now yellow, and all the trim is done. New curtains have been purchased but need to be ironed and I can't put them up until we've finished the crown molding at the top and the chair rail across the middle of the walls.

The yellow looks pretty dark in these photos because they were taken at night. It's a little brighter in real life, especially after our ugly wooden spindles came down. The lamp will be spray-painted black instead of brass and the door still has to be painted to match the white trim. Then there's the new floor, of course, which we haven't even picked yet, and finally, a dining room set - table, chairs and a serving table or cabinet-like thing.

In the top photo you can also see the corner of a very popular new item in our household - the cat tower.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Knut's Day

I was trying to tell my friend at work about Knut's Day - a traditional Swedish holiday (Tjugondedag Knut).

"Like the German polar bear Knut?" my friend said, pronouncing it "newt."

I explained that our tradition to toss out the Christmas tree and take down all decorations 20 days after Christmas while singing and dancing has nothing to do with an overweight white bear. The holiday has been around longer than Knut has been alive, but where does it really come from?

I turned to my friend Wikipedia and found that Knut was a king of Denmark from 1080 to 1086 (King Canute IV, to Americans). Knut was supposedly honored as a saint for his virtue and generosity, and he later claimed the throne of England. This king declared that Christmas should be celebrated for 20 days, officially ending the season on Jan. 13, according to Wikipedia (and we all know how reliable that source is...)

If there are candies on the tree, these are removed and eaten on Knut's Day, and it is OK to crush gingerbread houses and eat them on this day.

Ironically the holiday is not celebrated in Denmark, just in Sweden and Finland. In England, it is celebrated each year by the Wandering Hands, in either Bristol or London, whatever that may be...