Monday, May 31, 2010

Continuing in the kitchen

Home Depot had a sale on glass tiles for the kitchen this weekend. That motivated me to spackle the entire back wall (the yellow glue from the ugly fake wood floor tiles has been showing for months) in preparation of some tiling.

Of course, I don't know how to tile, but at least the walls will be ready soon. I just have to sand and spackle them one more time... And we still have to order and install the counter tops...

But at least this motivated us to get some painting done on the lower cabinets. One step closer to having a completed kitchen...

Saturday, May 22, 2010

A wonderful piece of history

Today I navigated to the New Haven Register website to catch up on some local news. Instead, I came across THIS ARTICLE about the famous "Treskilling Yellow" stamp once again going up for auction.

The stamp, known to me as the Treskilling Banco, is of importance because it was postmarked in 1857 in Kopparberg, Sweden - my hometown of 3,100 people (You can see "Kopp" on the postmark). It was a big part of history growing up, and there's a museum in my town dedicated to the stamp.

There's even a celebration on July 13 every year - the day the stamp was postmarked.

The Treskilling Banco stamp is worth more than $2 million, and all because of a mistake. You see, the stamp was supposed to be green, but due to a misprint, it was printed in yellow.

At the time, it was worth 3 shillings - less than a penny. The boy who found it, Georg Wilhelm Backman, sold it to a stamp collector for about $1 in 1886.

Today, it's the most valuable stamp in the world.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

SVT World

I recently saw an ad in Nordstjernan for SVT World, and I’m considering trying it. Through SVT World, you can watch Swedish television in the United States. You basically buy another type of cable box and it lets you watch certain Swedish programs like debates, music and sports as well as children’s shows.

The limitations, however, are that the company is not allowed to air any shows already broadcast in the U.S. I doubt SVT would have been allowed to broadcast the Olympics, for example, since the network NBC owns the rights to those here.

And you can’t watch shows like “Friends” or “Seinfeld” through the Swedish stations. I believe they also edit them and just air certain shows internationally, so you can’t watch the same show as grandma is watching in Sweden at the same time on basically the same channel.

But still, the idea is intriguing. I just haven’t decided yet if I want to pay an extra $25 a month for watching television.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Is that really Swedish?

People ask me about anything, from "Swedish meatballs" to Swedish massage. "Is that REALLY Swedish?" they say. The answer depends on the question.

Swedish meatballs are, of course, just called “meatballs” in Sweden. They are made by mixing ground beef and chopped up onions with bread crumbs soaked in milk. The meatballs are softer and less dense than the larger ones known in America as Italian meatballs.

In the U.S., I think people avoid the onions because so many people don’t like them. But the Swedish meatballs are very popular. So popular, in fact, that there’s a song about them.

But what about Swedish massage? Is that really Swedish?

The Swedish massage if often attributed to Per Henrik Ling, the father of Swedish gymnastics. As it turns out, Ling visited with a Chinese martial artist to improve body treatment. But a Dutch doctor, Johan Georg Mezger, was the man who adopted the basic strokes of massage known as the Swedish massage we know today.

Mezger may have known Ling and called it Swedish massage because of Ling’s influences, but the massage isn’t Swedish at all. Nor is it called “Swedish massage” in Sweden – it’s called “classic massage.”

I can’t find much online about the Swedish braid, but when I first heard a woman’s hair referred to as having Swedish braids, I thought of Pippi Longstocking. I believe Swedish braids are two braids flying freely, one on each side of the head. A French braid, on the other hand, is more complicated since the entire braid is attached to your head.

And finally, the Swedish fish. It is based on the soft, chewy candy made by Malaco, but in Sweden they come in all shapes and colors, not just fish. For some reason, whoever exported it must have decided that red fish would sell the best in the United States.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

More garden pictures

Planted some leftover marigolds in a pot.
Perhaps I stuck too many of them in there,
but we'll see how it goes.

The first lilies, the Stargazers, are starting to poke out
of the ground. I am trying to protect them this year
with bigger rocks, although a termite guy already stomped
on one of them. Don't know if it will recover.

My first batch of "protected" lilies are starting to
come up in a giant pot on the patio. At least the
maintenance guys won't touch these! (I hope)
I planted 10 more in a separate pot this year.

And in the kitchen window, I have strawberry
and tomato seeds growing. They will later be planted
outside in an upside-down topsy-turvy pot,
where they will hopefully grow upside-down.

Spending time in the garden

When I brought home my new plants from the garden store on Wednesday, I couldn't wait to get outside to plant them on my patio. But by the time I got home, it was too dark and too cold, and the plants ended up getting tucked into the garage with the soil and other supplies.

Today I woke up and it was a beautiful day - I also didn't have to go to work, so it was time to plant my petunias and marigolds in a flower box on the front porch.

Then I ventured in the back yard, and it looked like this:

So I spent the afternoon digging up dandelions by the roots. And now it looks like this: