Friday, February 27, 2009

Wedding details - for those who care...

My wedding shoes - $30 at Kohl's.
(Can't post pictures of my $150 bridesmaid's dress,
since Albie might see it. If you are really curious,
post a comment or e-mail me and I will send you a pic).

Our sample wedding cake that my friend Kristen is making:
Banana cake with vanilla pudding and whipped topping.
(Of course, it's going to have the little people on top!)
We will get married in front of the fireplace in my
former host father's house in Vermont. Albie's aunt,
a minister, will perform the ceremony. (We are
trying to convince her to stand on the fireplace).
People will sit here and watch the ceremony, in
a church-like room with cathedral ceilings
and a beautiful chandelier (not pictured). If it's sunny,
we'll have some gorgeous natural light from
the huge windows covering the back wall.

And we'll have dinner in this dining room, then
we'll go have a drink in the bar and enjoy ourselves
before we pass out from exhaustion!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Royal engagement

I read on a friend's blog this morning that Swedish Crown Princess Victoria Bernadotte is now engaged to her long-time boyfriend Daniel.

Royalty is a big deal in Sweden, even though they do absolutely nothing to run the country except act as diplomats to foreign leaders and sometimes advisers to government officials, I presume. However, it's just the joy of having a real king, queen, prince and princesses that is so fascinating.

Daniel, a gym owner from Stockholm who is not of "noble blood," has been dating Victoria for seven years. They have may have been living together as well, I am not sure. Now, they finally have the government's and the royal family's blessing to get married.

Being named after the crown princess, who is a year and a half older than I am, I do take solace in the fact that I got engaged first! (Christmas - read about it here). And not only that! Victoria and Daniel are planning their royal wedding for the late spring/early summer of 2010.

Albie and I are getting married in a month! Yup, that's right - March 29, 2009. Exactly one month before our four-year anniversary of our first date. It's going to be a small ceremony away from home.

But don't worry. Just like Victoria and Daniel posted their engagement announcement on YouTube, Albie and I will post video evidence on the web for the whole world to see!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Traveling made easy

I'm jealous when I think of young people today and all the gadgets they have.

When I left Sweden ten years ago, I brought five of my favorite CDs with me in their original cases. I had a Hotmail account, and the first few days in New York I visited a public library to use a computer so I could communicate with my friends.

I had never had a cell phone, except for a month during the summer when work lent it to me, and I had never owned a movie on DVD.

Now, I could pack up my entire movie collection and take it with me wherever I go. It's in a convenient, flat black case. My songs are all stored on my computer. If I had a Blackberry Storm, I could use this cell phone/PDA/tiny computer anywhere in the world, and I'm sure it could also carry all my favorite songs and maybe even a few videos.

You can go anywhere now, and still be surrounded by what you know. It's like the world has all of a sudden become a much smaller place.

I'm not sure I like it.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

When the ring goes missing

It's happened to a few people I know. We even wrote a story about it last week in The Register Citizen. I just never thought it would happen to me.

Last year, a coworker called me on her day off and asked "Is my engagement ring on my keyboard at my desk?" I went to look, then reported back. "Yes, right where you left it." She came to pick it up a few minutes later.

Two years before that, a married reporter went to cover something at a camp facility. When he came back, he was without his wedding band. After several phone calls to people at the camp, and several young girls searching buildings and areas where he had been, he had to give up hope to ever find his ring again. "My wife is going to kill me," was the last thing he said before he went home that night.

Tonight, I was driving home fiddling with my fingers on the steering wheel when all of a sudden something didn't feel right. "My ring!" I exclaimed. "I'm not wearing my ring!"

Earlier in the day I had taken the ring off while I was putting lotion on my very dry arms. Perhaps it was still sitting on my desk at work? I immediately called work. No ring. A was put on hold while a coworker - the same one from above who lost her ring last year - looked around my desk, my garbage can, the floor, piles of papers on other desks... NOTHING!

"I'll call you later if it shows up," she said, not sounding certain it would. I wasn't certain either. Where could it be?

For ten minutes, I was in a panic, thinking I'd lost my grandmother's golden ring. I'm not sure if it's worth much, but to me it's worth the world. Especially since it is now a symbol of mine and Albie's relationship.

When I finally got home, I emptied all my pockets. Nothing. Then my last hope... my gloves! I was barely inside the door when I threw the thin gloves down on the stairs and started slapping the outside of them. And there, inside one of them, was a great big lump! Phew!

The ring must have slipped off after I spent ten minutes cleaning off my car in the freezing cold (it was nice and sunny when I went to work this afternoon, then the temps dropped 20 degrees in a few hours and we had 2 inches of snow). My gloves were wet from all the snow, so I had ripped them off and thrown them onto the passenger seat before I went home.

It's a good thing they were wet, though. Had I stuffed them back into my pockets, I may have never found the ring, or may have lent the gloves to someone else with the ring still inside!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Can I brush my teeth now, mommy?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Skiing at Mohawk Mountain

First time I skied in six years! It was great, and it was right here in Connecticut - only about 45 minutes from our house. When I got home, I took a 2-hour nap! Good thing we both have a day off tomorrow to recover...

Friday, February 13, 2009

Crazy cards

I was amazed when I first came to the U.S. and went to the store to buy a birthday card. Not only were there cards to people of every age and gender, there were also cards from sons, daughters, grandmothers, grandfathers, siblings, "all of us," cats and dogs... etc.

While browsing for a card for Albie for Valentine's Day today, I found a card to "dad from pre-teen." How much more specific can it get?

No wonder these cards take up several aisles at the grocery store! Although, I have to admit, I have never been able to find a card that says "from the au pair." I've always been slightly offended by that!

One of the most challenging things is to find a card with minimal writing in it so that you can write what you want. Especially for Valentine's Day, all cards seem to be filled with two or three pages of poems or religious rants about how lucky we all are to be in this world, why we are so blessed, what we are supposedly feeling, and when and how we should be feeling this, when all I really need it a card that says "I love you."

Perhaps I'll just have to make one myself.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

In Harry Potter's world/updated

I've spent two months in Harry Potter's world, and I have to admit, the books are even better when they can be read straight through from beginning to end - without having to wait two years for the continuation. Everything makes sense right away; things from the seventh book tie back to the first, and everything just falls into place.

It really is a marvelous story, and I've enjoyed every minute of my two-month journey. It's what kept me sane on late nights at the office when all I could think of was getting out of there so I could wrap myself up with a heavy blanket and start to read.

Of course, not everyone loves Harry Potter (although everyone should - there's no reason not to!). During a morning break from unloading a truckload of Polish pottery, I happened to mention to the new shipping agent that I was re-reading the seven books.

"I only read four," admitted the middle-aged mother of two. "Frankly, the plot seemed to be the same in each book, so I couldn't take it anymore."

What??? I almost choked on my hot chocolate. This was clearly a woman I shouldn't be having any further conversations with. Despite thinking at first we would have something in common since she mentioned her home decorating skills and her love of shopping at Home Depot, I realized our brief almost-friendship was already over.

To stop myself from jumping over a large, round kitchen table to attempt to strangle her, I emptied my mug and announced I was going back to work.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Weird winter

It's been cold here for about a week - freezing, rather. We've had several big snow storms since the new year began. Today, however, temperatures were in the 40s and most of the snow in our driveway melted away. I guess it will all start over again next week.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Swedish snow lantern

We are getting some more snow today, for the umpteenth time this year already, so I thought back to when I was a child and what I used to like about winter. Making a snow lantern was one of those things that just made winter special.

Making a Swedish snow lantern

  • It has to be perfect snowball-making conditions outside

  • Flatten the snow on the ground where you want your lantern to stand

  • Make snowballs and put them in a circle, snowballs touching each other

  • Make a small indent in the snow where you want to put your tealight candle

  • Continue placing snowballs in smaller circles on top of your previous circle (most commonly, lanterns are igloo-shaped

  • Leave an opening at the top for the heat to escape without melting the snow, which would kill the flame

  • Light a tealight candle and place it inside. Sit back and enjoy the glow!

Monday, February 2, 2009

The death of a boxing champ

It would have gone by unnoticed, had my future father-in-law not said something today about it.

"You know that Swedish guy we talked about a few weeks ago? He just died a few days ago," he said. "Ingmar, something."

"What?" I said, thinking of director Ingmar Bergman. "I thought he was already dead (Note: Bergman died in 2007)."
I looked over at Albie. "Have you heard anything about this?"

We both work for newspapers, and we both scan the national and international obituaries as they come over the AP wire for anyone of importance. But Albie was as clueless as I was.

When I got home I was determined to find out more. I scrolled down the home page of a Swedish tabloid until - at last - I found it near the bottom: Boxer Ingemar Johansson has died. I then remembered our conversation, which had not been about movies...

Albie's dad, being in his early teens when Ingemar Johansson came out of nowhere in 1959 and beat heavyweight champion Floyd Patterson for the world title at Yankee Stadium, of course remembered this remarkable Swede.

Johansson, who suffered from Alzheimer's, died Friday at age 76.

Some remarkable thing about this man:

* In his professional career, he only lost two matches - both against Floyd Patterson (rematches of the world title in 1960 and 1961)

* Johansson, the underdog, flew in on a helicopter to Gothenburg after his 1959 win and was greeted by 20,000 Swedes

* He was the Swedish amateur heavyweight champion at age 19, winning 80 of his 88 fights

* He received an Olympic silver medal 29 years after his 1952 fight where a referee had disqualified him for "a lack of effort," according to the New York Times

Ingo, as he was called in Sweden, was famous before I was even born. However, through the movie "My Life As a Dog," I grew up learning what a historic moment the Patterson-Johansson fight had been for our little country. Nobody should ever forget that. So, here's to Ingo!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Puppy Bowl

Tonight is the biggest night of the year for football fans - the Super Bowl.

I don't like football, and I don't care for the Super Bowl much, except for the funny million-dollar ads in between the standing around and smacking each other on the butt.

Another good thing about today is that Animal Planet shows its annual Puppy Bowl - they are up to Puppy Bowl V (Super Bowl is up to XLIII). During the Puppy Bowl, you can watch puppies run around on an enclosed "arena," attacking toys and stumbling in the water dishes. There are, of course, cameras at the bottom of the water dish, so you get to watch each nose and paw at a close up.

While Bruce Springsteen is performing at the Super Bowl half-time show, the Puppy Bowl half-time show consists of kittens playing.

It's MUCH better than football, if you ask me.