Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!

The husband is now really sick, but, very surprisingly, he has a chest cold, no stomach bug there at all! Of course, him being a man and all, he seems to be sooo sick, poor man. You could think he was 5 again. He is not much fun to be around when he is sick, unfortunately, Nothing but grumpy and pathetic. How come when women are sick, we are just sick, but men are always so much sicker and always half dying?

He had to go in and work today, he does payroll for a few businesses, and they would not be too happy without their money... So grump-free for the day! :-)

I have been cooking as much fresh and nutritious food as I could over the weekend, hoping to help us getting better. I feel 99 % back to normal. Last night I made lime marinaded spicy carne asada, with guacamole, and beans. As an appetizer we had fresh made salsa and chips. Man that salsa was good! I can still taste it... Mmmm. I have to make some more soon! Ken gave me a bunch of cookbooks for Christmas (which I collect), and one of them was a very good Mexican cookbook, so I had been in the mood for Mexican all week long (except for those days when I was comatose in the bed...)

Back in Sweden I always had a special treat to look forward to on New Years Day. I always watched Ivanhoe on TV! The version from 1982 is so romantic and beautiful! I grew up with this movie and just adored it. So right now I am downloading it. Should be done by tonight. Can't wait... I haven't seen it since New Years Day 1996!

I am planning on cleaning out Christmas today, except for the tree. I am also planning on making my yummy Thai Chicken Noodle Soup for dinner. Ken really needs it!

Have you done any bargain shopping for Christmas Decor yet? This is the time of year to buy your decorations for next year, stuff is always 75 %-90 % off! Good places that we found lots of stuff (including wrapping paper and ribbons, lights etc.) are Target and Walgreen's. Get it while it is still there! We came home with a trunk full for less than $30 yesterday. Great bargains!

We have been having very warm weather in the mid 80F (30C), and I am so thrilled to see that we will get a few days of cold starting on Tuesday night (almost freezing over night!), but then it gets back to the 80s again over the weekend apparently...

I am looking forward to a New Years night with everyone but me sleeping, maybe break out my huge stash of Swedish candy that I haven't had much chance to eat yet, and watch Ivanhoe on the laptop with a dog on each side of me for warmth. Sounds good to me, no need for glitzy parties here! Gott Nytt År!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Over

Phew... Finally the terror of the stomach bug is over. I just need to eat up a bit and get my strength back, my legs still feel like jell-O after walking around too much.

The husband and the daughter just took off to go rollerskating at the rollerskating rink. That should be fun; not as slippery and cold as the ice skating!

I have just finished a list of what I am going to make for dinner all week, so I am off to the grocery store. Most of the food are stuff that I like to eat when I am under the weather, like Thai chicken noodle soup. But tomorrow we are having a Mexican fiesta with Carne Asada steak, home made salsa and guacamole, beans and other yummy trimmings. Today probably Pasta Caprese, light but filling. I am so hungry after all these days living off of crisp bread!

On a sadder note we had to give back the guinea pigs to the guinea pig adopt-lady. We had suspected Ken was allergic for a while, but it didn't seem that bad (probably because he was always away working!). Now over Christmas when he spent a lot more time at home it was apparent he can't handle them. I have had nightmares for several nights, I just feel so bad! The lady assured me she would find them another good home, these things happen. Sarah was at first very sad and crying all morning, but she understood they were making daddy sick. She is so young still so I think it probably is easier on her than me! Stan, who is blind on one eye, was so excited that I finally let him sit next to the cage. He sat there with his nose in between the wires, waiting for something to move in there. After a half hour I felt bad for him and let him go in and check out the now empty cage. He was kind of confused, because he sure could smell them! A bit of a anti-climax for him...

Here are a few pictures from our Christmas:

When we woke up in the morning, SANTA had made a visit! Lots of presents!

Hey, a present for mommy. Otherwise it seemed Sarah had been nicest during the year, as most the presents were for her...
Sarah was very excited about Christmas and getting to see Grama and Uncle Kevin. And all those toys...

My mother in law, Shirley, Ken's older brother Kevin, and his new (very nice) girlfriend Michelle, all waiting for me to finish up dinner so we can eat!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Slowly coming back

I am finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. I think I am going to try and have a somewhat normal day today. I am still really dizzy and nauseated, but also hungry!

My mother in law is coming by today to take Sarah out for lunch, that will be a fun break for her, the poor girl pretty much spent all of yesterday playing computer games . She was so helpful by feeding the dogs, getting me water, even taking my temperature (she loves to show that thing in my ear...)

So hopefully some food will do me good today. Yesterday it was mostly Swedish crisp bread.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Want a great tip on how to loose those extra pounds from Christmas?

The night after Christmas day; GET THE STOMACH FLU!

I was sure we were out of the woods, since Sarah had been all better by Sunday. But oh no...

Yesterday it was so bad I could barely lift my head off the pillow. I am so thankful my friend Linda was home so Sarah could stay with her all day! I slept until 6:15 PM when they got back, and then I went to bed again at 8:15 PM when it was time for Sarah to go to bed. All my joints ache from laying still so much. Lots of nausea but no puking (yet), thankfully. But the diarrhea, oh man. And I am an expert in having diarrhea, this stuff is evil!

But hey, I lost 7 lbs in 24 hours... Now back to the couch for some more rest. Hopefully it will be better by tomorrow...

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Not a mouse is stirring...

Here I am, sitting with the laptop in front of the TV watching a DVD episode of the series "Big Love", sipping a glass of the yummy vintage I so conveniently gave my husband for Christmas. I hear snoozing and some snoring; kid, husband, dogs and guinea pigs are all sleeping, exhausted from a long, fun day filled with people and food (LOTS of food).

It has been a great Christmas Day that started at 6:30 AM. We open lots of cool presents and then started to prepare our Christmas dinner. I made a spinach dip and a Ranch dip with veggies and pita chips for appetizers, ham (came out yummy) with scalloped potatoes, spinach casserole, green been casserole, honey carrots, fresh baked rolls (and mother in law's sweet potato pie).

We also enjoyed lots of treats and sweets. I was very happy to finally receive my mom's Christmas package from Sweden on Christmas Eve! It was overflowing with goodies, sweet and savory. I was blown away of all the stuff she managed to cram in there this year! It is a tradition I now look forward to and cherish every year, thanks mom!

I am sooo tired after hours of cooking, eating and entertaining! The last guest left after 8 PM! I am now going to enjoy a little quiet time with my wine. Hope you all had a great day!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Vandalism

A few years ago we had a streak of kids vandalising stuff on our street. Unfortunately that time they broke a window on my almost new car! Not fun...

Last night right after 1 AM I woke up by a large thump-sound outside. I hurried up to peek outside, since I immeditely though vandals, but I didn't see anything.

This morning we saw that they had broken all teh mailboxes on our street. Ours really needed to be replaced anyway, but this was really not the way I had hoped to go about that. They even stole the front and back door of the mailbox!

Crumbled mailbox...

Ken ordered a new one online, I guess mailbox vandalism is a big problem, this kind of buisness seems to be booming! The new mailbox is suppose to be as heavy duty as they come. They will probably put dynamite in it...

Christmas Greeting

Merry Christmas/God Jul everyone!



Friday, December 21, 2007

Poor kid!

I feel so bad for her, she sure have had a lousy day! Except for water, she couldn't even stomach a couple of ice pops I made out of fresh orange juice, they came up together with the Tylenol I had given her for the fever. She has been totally knocked out on the couch for a few hours now. Hopefully she will have a better day tomorrow!

Thank you very much...

This morning we got a scary surprise...

Sarah had crawled into our bed around 4:30 AM, and just after 5 she was wiggling around a lot, so I tried to wake her to ask if she needed to go to the bathroom, she can have a hard time waking up when she needs to go sometimes. All of a sudden she started to throw up all over herself, I quickly grabbed her, got the lights on and then I saw it: she was covered in BLOOD!

She was throwing up so much blood I almost froze in fear! Ken and I panicked and rushed her into the bathroom... where in the very bright light I could see it was... the blueberries she ate last night that had come up...

Whew that was a huge relief! You can only imagine what was racing through my mind, and Ken admitted he thought she was pretty much a gonner!

So she got herself a very early morning bath and no school. She is so sad she is missing the school Christmas party today! But with all that puking, diarrhea and a high fever, I don't think the other parents would appreciate her attendance that much... :-) Since she is missing out on the Christmas present exchange in school, Santa left a small Christmas present for her to open here at home instead. It did the trick, no more whining about wanting to go to school...

So it is JUST a case of the dreaded stomach "flu", or as it is widely known in Sweden: "vinterkräksjukan". Merry Christmas to us! She obviously got it from the neighbor's grandkids when we were there the other day... If I would have known they were sick I would not have let Sarah touch anything in there, but the situation was a little frantic, so that didn't come up until AFTER Sarah and I had been there for awhile. Touching all the toys that the kids had been pretty much vomiting around for a few days... Lovely! Hopefully she will feel better before Christmas Day, and hopefully Ken and I won't get it and puke on the Christmas ham or something...

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Scary situation

I was on the phone when my neighbor, an elderly lady, frantically knocked on the door. She tends to be very emotional, but this time she was practically shaking, and I could barely understand what she was trying to say, but I could tell something bad had happened.

I quickly gathered my things and got Sarah to put on her shoes and went over to her house. She and her husband are very nice people, and they take care of their two grandchildren during the days. The husband had just gone to school to pick up the boy, who is 4, from preschool. Apparently he had passed out in front of the wheel and crashed the car just outside our subdivision. The other grandchild was napping on the couch, so Sarah and I waited with her while the woman drove to pickup the boy, who had been in the car when it crashed.

The details were still sketchy, and family members and the fire department kept calling, I just tried to convey the info that I knew, which wasn't much.

Finally she got back, and she said they still don't know exactly why he had passed out, but he had looked very gray when they brought him into the ambulance. When the EMT's had taken him out of the car they hadn't thought of taking a closer look in the backseat, after all, old guys like this usually don't drive around with small children. So the poor boy sat quietly strapped into his car seat until a woman happened to see him! He was most likely in shock, he was quiet as can be until his grandmother came, then he frantically started to ask for his "papa".

After they got back we let Sarah and him play for a bit so he would be a bit distracted, after all, it was a pretty dramatic thing to be part of! When we knew their son was on the way we left. Poor family! Hopefully there wasn't anything serious wrong with him, but you never know when you get older. My thoughts goes out to them, and I let her know we are here 100 % if she needs any help at all. Typical a thing like this has to happen right before Christmas...

***UPDATE***
I talked to the neighbor last night, and he was back home. Apparently he probably just had the flu. She said it wasn't exactly the first time he has passed out. He is very sensitive to feeling nauseated, and will pass out from it. She went on joking about how she had morning sickness throughout her three pregnancies and never once passed out... men aren't built as well as women! So it seems everything is back to normal for them. He had apparently been very close to driving into a lake, that could have ended very badly with the kid in the backseat!

Wednesday

We got a "cold snap" here for a few days, not very cold for most, but we are so used to the warm weather that we really freeze easily here in Florida...

I have been busy the last days tinkering with my computer. I am so sick and tired off it! If someone mentions the words port forwarding or static IP again I will scream!

Oh well, I learned a lot. And I was able to increase my bandwidth with a single super easy step! It went up 4 Mbits! That is huge! All I did was separate the modem, the router and the VoIP box. Their signals can interfere with each other, and it sure made a huge difference! If you want to see how fast your Internet connection is, you can test it here. Just click on a city, It will save your last test so you can compare. Try to separate your modem and your router as much as you can (I know, those cables only stretch so far) and then test the speed again. Cool!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Tough Tragedies

It is easy to get caught up in the wonderful spirit of the Holiday season. But just a quick glance in the newspaper or a few minutes of the evening news quickly makes you realize there are many families out there that will have other things on their minds...

Two cases comes to mind here locally. A guy decided to rob a Nationwide Insurance office. When the two women there, Yvonne 26, and Jane 23, didn't give him enough cash to please him, he doused the place and the women with gasoline and lit them on fire! The women ran screaming outside, and a guy from another business came running to help. The robber then shot him in the face... The women are now in critical condition at the hospital with burns on more than 90 % of their bodies.Jane was 6 months pregnant and had to have an emergency C-section! The baby seems stable, so that is a positive. Why? Crimes are just getting so raw and pointless...

And there is another story, this a tragic accident that might have been preventable: 2 year old Lexi was swinging on a swing set at a local private park, when it gave away and came crashing down on her. She is now in a coma, and the parents have been told to start thinking about organ donations... But they have hope still. That is all you can have: hope!

We are all so lucky to have our friends and family. This is truly a season to be grateful for that!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Toys and hair

If you haven't tried the 20 questions thingy below you got to try! I tried to stump it, but it even got obscure things like miniature pincher. Pretty freaky but cool!

Today I have to get the last toys for our Toys for Tots drive we are doing with my husband's firm. I love the idea of teaching Sarah that she is indeed very fortunate, and that is its a good thing to help others. She has taken pride in carefully selecting the toys, only picking things she herself would have liked, She is very concerned that these kids should be happy with what they get.

She asked me why Santa is not coming to these kids, so I had to come up with a feasible explanation. Fast! I told her that the parents actually buy and wrap the presents, and then give them to Santa, who will deliver them to the kids who have been good. But some parents don't have a lot of money, so Santa enlist help from others to get the toys for those who can't afford them.

She seemed happy with this explanation. I hope that doesn't ruin the whole Santa thing... But she seemed to understand and grasp the idea. After all, Santa shouldn't get all the credit for all those presents under the tree... he he ...

I have, as you know, been sick a lot this fall, and then after that I have been busy working a lot to make up for it. So I haven't exactly had time for a hair cut or anything of that nature. On a whim a called my fabulous hair dresser Patricia, who I have seen for several years. Low and behold she had an appointment on Christmas Eve, so now I am getting my color and cut! I use the semi-permanent color that rinses out, but the salon kind last for months...

The good thing is that her wonderful blowouts last for days if you don.t wash your hair, so I am guaranteed nice hair on Christmas Day. I feel so pudgy and floppy nowadays, so at least I don't have to add bad hair to that... I always tip double when I see her right before Christmas, so the whole visit will run me at least $120, but hey, nice hair is so worth it, and it has been 4 months since I had a cut, 5 since I had it colored. I need it desperately!

PS I am thinking about you during your surgery over there in Australia, Fiona! Good luck!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

20 questions

You have to try this game of 20 questions out, pretty amazing!

You think about something, and by asking questions and you answering yes, no, sometimes etc. the computer try to figure out what it is in 20 questions or less...

I asked for the hand held version of this as a stocking stuffer, lots of fun! You can do it in English or even Swedish! Have fun!

Cutie

My dear husband finally ordered his presents for Christmas last night.

This morning he was huffing and puffing about having bought a surprise for the whole family. I probably would just yell at him and wouldn't like it, he said.

After a lot of encouragement and promises I wouldn't yell (he has a tendency to get dumb ass things that irritate me), I was worried. I was imagining all kinds of weird stuff!

But he finally told me what it was. A telescope. That is a wonderful idea! I have been wanting to get him one for several years, he just beat me to it! It comes with a software to help you locate constellation. Should be fun! And he thought I was going to get mad at him, cutie pie...

Monday, December 10, 2007

100 things about me list

I have seen other bloggers do this substantial list. It is suppose to be 100 things to tell you a bit more about myself. Both Desiree and Annika did theirs, both in Swedish. It was very difficult to come up with all 100! Here is mine:

  1. I love to talk. A lot. My family have learned to just but in.
  2. I love to cook; mostly oriental food.
  3. I am pretty good at cooking, but suck at baking bread and other yeast-based goods.
  4. Family is number one for me.
  5. I eat way too much candy…
  6. I hate over processed food, but sometimes I just don’t have time to cook from scratch.
  7. I met my husband on the Internet. In fact, I do a lot on the Net!
  8. I hate coffee.
  9. I love tea.
  10. When working I have to have my Diet Coke.
  11. I am horrible when it comes to cleaning. Horrible!
  12. I don’t mind a mess unless someone is coming over.
  13. I suck at math.
  14. I love animals of all kinds; it bothers me to kill even a fly. I have saved countless hurt animals over the years: squirrels, birds and insects.
  15. Love to read, but rarely have time for a good book nowadays.
  16. My 15 + magazine subscriptions make up for the books I miss (all free via my airline miles)
  17. I wanted to be either a fighter pilot (thanks Top Gun) or a journalist when I was little.
  18. I got a degree in journalism, just to discover that was not for me!
  19. I have published several articles over the years.
  20. I am always thinking about that novel I am slowly writing. It is a pre-teen novel, meant for my daughter’s entertainment.
  21. I have a very lively imagination.
  22. I hate being bored, it stinks!
  23. I often worry about dying; what will happen to my daughter if I do?
  24. I grew up with my grandmother as mom, which gave me a tremendous respect for elderly people.
  25. Can’t stand besserwissers!
  26. I’m a besserwisser, but of course, I’m right most of the time ;-)
  27. I think shopping is great therapy!
  28. I’m the sickliest person I know.
  29. I am into sci-fi, not so much Star Trek as real science.
  30. Thanks to my job I have a pretty extensive knowledge about all kinds of weird odd stuff I would never have know otherwise. As me how a juice machine is put together, or how pharmaceutical sales reps are trained, I know it
  31. I love my job. All I ever wanted was to work with writing and language, and here I am.
  32. I have no gray hairs yet.
  33. Learn quickly.
  34. I am a bit scared to the dark. Mostly I blame that on Twin Peaks that was on TV in the 90s. Also, I figured the chances there are real aliens out there is pretty big. So why do I need the lights on, if they are going to get me they will get me, right? Well, at least I will see them coming… ;-)
  35. People always start talking to me when I am out. I seem to compel people to just tell me there inner thoughts. Eating ice cream on a bench? A lady will start telling me about her recent knee surgery, in grueling detail… These things always happen to me! My husband brings me along as a social shield when going to parties!
  36. I hate large social scenes.
  37. I love small intimate dinner gatherings at people’s homes.
  38. I love to entertain friends.
  39. I have a great attention to detail.
  40. I have a secret dream to do acting. I loved it as a kid.
  41. I hate that my husband work all the time.
  42. I love just being by myself, so having a husband that works all the time is probably a great thing.
  43. I don’t like to fight. I rather take a long walk, let the steam settle and then talk it out.
  44. I live in cropped yoga pants.
  45. I sleep naked, can’t stand any clothes that get tangled. I used to wear long nightgowns when I was little, and over the years I just started to wear less and less. Works great anyway in warm Florida!
  46. I don’t iron clothes. If the husband buys an item that needs ironing (like all his work clothes) he has to send them out.
  47. Am a very good driver.
  48. I am great at figuring out how gadgets work.
  49. I love history and culture. It fascinates me to find out about the different people around the world.
  50. I am not religious, but I believe there is something after death.
  51. Thinks I am going to win the lottery, even though I know I never will… still keeps buying those tickets…
  52. Fantasize what I would do with a lot of money. I think daydreaming is healthy, it keeps me happy so why not? My husband has no understanding for it, he thinks I am serous when I tell him about mini mansions and such, he doesn’t get it that it is just a fantasy. But it could come true, that is the best part of it!
  53. I feel like I can’t keep up with life a lot of times. There are so many things I would like to do, being a better wife, more fun mom, to further myself with different activities.
  54. I am often very tired, probably due to my medical problems.
  55. I love to eat good food; in fact, I consider t a great hobby of mine!
  56. I mostly like to read suspense novels, but documentaries are great too!
  57. I learned to ready through the TV show “Tummen och Tummens mamma” when I was 5.
  58. I want to travel the world, one country at the time.
  59. I am great at organizing things.
  60. I am very compassionate and get very emotionally caught up in other peoples’ situation.
  61. I’d rather check out a hot looking woman than a man, thought I have no sexual interest in them. I think women are more beautiful naked as well.
  62. I have a hard time faking something I don’t believe in. Like participating in a prayer before dinner when mother in law is here. That is so not right to force people to do like you!
  63. I like to be comfortable.
  64. I love nature and being in it.
  65. I have to live close to an ocean to be truly happy. Must be because I grew up on an island.
  66. I get very defensive when people say something bad about Sweden
  67. I wish I could have known my mother; she died when I was just 1.
  68. I take my marriage very serious and don’t look lightly at divorce. Life is not always a party! You have to work things out if there are problems. I think people tend to jump into marriage before they are ready for that kind of commitment.
  69. I feel that the purpose of life is two folded; you are to find a mate and further your genes, but also to be good to others.
  70. I wish there was a portal that could take me anywhere (Sweden) in an instance. For free…
  71. I worry about what will happen when my mom (grandmother) dies. She almost didn’t make it this past year when she had a stroke and several heart attacks. She is a good as new now, but I worry. She is my glue.
  72. I worry about the environment and I feel that (especially the US) can do so much more to minimize our impact on Earth.
  73. I worry about dying. I have so many medical problems, and I have already had 3 different kinds of cancer scares. Sometimes it feels like a heavy stone to carry. Both my parents died too early from cancer as well. But, I do see a lot of doctors, so the chance of things being caught early are great!
  74. I love to watch TV. My DVR is programmed to record all kinds of shows, but I mostly stay away from the reality shows. The only one I follow this season is America’s Next Top Model. It gives you something light to relax to.
  75. I absolutely HATE the carpet in our house! April 28 is the day it is being ripped out, and that will be a day I celebrate for sure! I have lived with this stinker for 3 ½ years now. Hasta La Vista, baby!
  76. I want a summer house on Gotland, my home island. Or at least rent one and spend my summers there!
  77. I am ashamed Sarah doesn’t know much Swedish. Oh how I wish I would never have listened to the “experts” that told me to stop talking Swedish to her, because she was behind in her speech… Grrr!
  78. I was a tomboy when I was younger. I would do all kinds of naught things, climb roof tops, let out cows from their pasture, and shoplift. Just to prove I was a tough one!
  79. I used to draw a lot. I was pretty good at drawing fashion pictures, in pencil. I still have my collection started when I was 9.
  80. I learned English pretty good early on. One of the reasons was all my pen pals from all over the world.
  81. I am a speed-reader. I can read and grasp a text as fast as lightning. I also type very fast.
  82. The older I get, the more I seem to like gossip! I even subscribe to Star magazine.
  83. Music is very important to me. I like pretty much everything except the kind where you can’t make out the lyrics, like rap, opera and some of that weird death metal stuff. Otherwise I am open to all kinds of music.
  84. I love cats, and it is a huge sorrow that my husband is allergic to cats and can’t be in the same house as one. AT least I have the pups to make up for it! I am surprised he isn’t allergic to guinea pigs as well, but that seems to work just fine.
  85. I am not very good at taking pictures, which is kind of embarrassing since we have so many good photographers in my family.
  86. I love the sensation of cleaning my ears with a Q-tip! I heard Sharon Stone shares my feeling for this…
  87. I suck at backing up my computer files. I know, I know… All those photos are worth so much to me.
  88. I worry about Sarah. I shudder just thinking about all the horrible things that can happen to her as she grows up.
  89. I am the most impatient person ever. It has to happen NOW!
  90. I am terrible with money. Thankfully I am married to a CPA; otherwise I would be in trouble!
  91. I love giving gifts. The whole figuring out what kind of gift would fit that person, wrapping it and seeing their face and expression when they open it!
  92. When I get pissed off I often rush into our walk in closet and sits on the floor in the dark and steam. I have been doing this since I was a kid. My husband always looks in there first if he knows I am mad at someone. He thinks it is really funny…
  93. Being at a hospital give me panic attacks, which is not a good thing since I tend to end up there a lot.
  94. I don’t like to get drunk anymore; it just doesn’t feel that great not having control over myself. Being tipsy, on the other hand, is fun.
  95. I am thinking about taking up Spanish. That would be very helpful here in Florida!
  96. I miss the café culture of Sweden. Just hanging out over a large cup of tea, chatting with friends.
  97. Don’t have many friends here. As soon as I get to know anyone, they tend to move away. I really miss my dear friends from Sweden!
  98. Since I started to work from home in 2000 I rarely “get ready” in the mornings anymore. Working form home coupled with Florida’s casual life style isn’t exactly great for a girls looks… No make up, undone hair and sweat pants anyone?
  99. I want and miss having a best friend that I can talk to about everything and hang out with all the time. Over the phone doesn’t count!

100. I am great at arranging furniture and have a good eye for interior design. Just wish my wallet was fatter, I could have so much fun!

All done!

It is done! The last Christmas present is purchased! At least one last thing I don't have to worry about. Ken has still not bought one single gift. Luckily for him I have gotten all the gifts that he needs to get except my own. Hopefully he will not forget to buy me at least something. I do like to give more than get, but still, you want something to open on Christmas... He has been working crazy hours, 7 days a week, so it has been hard to also go online and order gifts. But is he wants anything delivered in time without having to pay for express delivery he better get moving!

Sarah has apparently been a very good girl this year, most the gifts in my two large sacks are for her. I managed to find Ken some nice gifts I think he really will appreciate and get a lot of use out of. I also took care of his family and my family, lots of presents to be sent all over the country and the world!

But that is now all done, now I can concentrate on figuring out what to cook for Christmas. We will be 5 adults and one kid.

I was wondering, what do you serve for Christmas dinner? We had a traditional American ham dinner last year. Any one have any fresh ideas? I would still like to serve a ham, but what kind of ham? What kind of side dishes? Any idea would be welcome!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Getting ready for Christmas

This morning Sarah and I stopped by for a quick breakfast at McDonald's, then we were off to our first stop, PetSmart. There we stocked up on some guinea pig supplies (they have to have hay every day, and they love fresh timothy hay). We also got some Christmas presents for them and the dogs. Bob looooves opening presents, so we gotta make sure there are some for them as well. This is also the main reason we cannot put any presents under the tree until the last minute. They would all be opened if he got his way with them!

Then we went over to the mall where we picked up something for Sarah to wear for Christmas Day. I found the cutest red shoes! We normally wear very casual clothes, so I don't want to dolly us up for a day that is mostly spent eating and lounging anyway... But it is nice to wear something special, even though it is comfy that rules! So no starchy dresses or heavy velvety things. After all, it is really hot out still.

We were suppose to attend the annual Santa thing; he arrived in a helicopter (the reindeer are resting up for Christmas), but we got the dates mixed up and missed it. We did promise a visit with Santa, so it will have to be the mall Santa... They had a very nice set up last year, which was also the very first time Sarah sat on his lap. I was kind of against it, but Ken took her, and she loved it! I decided not to send Christmas cards to everyone this year. Maybe we can use Sarah's picture with Santa as an e-mail card this year.

While I was trying on Christmas clothes on Sarah I gave her a very special gift; a 18K gold necklace that was given to me by my dad when I was 15. It has the (in Sweden) very popular "tro, hopp och kärlek" (faith, hope and love) charms on it. It has always been a bit short for me, and now I only wear a necklace with a diamond charm that my dear husband gave me, so it was time someone else started to use this very nice necklace. And it will be a nice memento from her now dead grandfather as well.

Yesterday we did some shopping as well, and I also went by the Scandinavian store to stock up on some Swedish food. My mom is sending me lots of Swedish candy and a few other things, so I only really needed to buy things that can't be sent in the mail. Haven't made it to IKEA yet, so this will have to do. Bummer though, they hadn't gotten their julmust in yet!

Pepparkakor and Kalles. They even had Herrgårdsost this year, my favorite!

Sarah found these great smelling candles at Yankee Candle. Now the entire house smells like gingerbread!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Santa

Sarah, now being 4½, is so much more aware about Christmas and all it stands for. Well, at least the Santa part. I do not consider myself Christian at all, or religious in any way. But I grew up with Christmas, and I like it. Not the Jesus part, but the Santa part. I like what Santa, or Saint Nicholas, stand for.

St Nick was a Bishop in what is now modern day Turkey, born around year 275. He came from a pretty wealthy family and he is said to have distributed his fortune among the poor, and he is also believed to have saved children from drowning, saving young girls from prostitution and helping seamen in a storm, and saving a child that was abducted. He became the saint that we know as Santa Claus, and he is also the patron Saint of Children, Seafarers and merchants. The Hanseatic League, which my home island of Gotland was part of, chose him as their patron saint.

I am OK with that, I think that sounds like a guy worth remembering through traditions... Go Santa!

Saint Nicholas

His look has changed a bit over the years! This is Sarah on Sant's lap last year.

By the way, I was trying to figure out where to hide all the Christmas presents. After all, I don't want Sarah see any of them, I have been telling her Santa is coming to drop them off (if she is good) for Christmas. I just have no room in any closets. Finally I put them all in a huge black garbage bag and put it in the corner of the office. Sarah has not once wondered what was in it. After all, garbage bags are pretty boring. Hidden in plain sight, brilliant!


Chicken Piccata with Sauteed Broccollini

I have a new favorite vegetable: Broccollini! This is a hybrid of cabbage, broccoli and asparagus. They taste like asparagus with broccoli tips, very good!

Last night I made some yummy food and here is the recipe if you want to try it out:

Chicken Piccata with Sauteed Broccollini

You will need (2 people):
2 chicken breasts or about 1 lb of chicken strips
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Flour, for dredging
Butter
Olive oil
1/3 cup of fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup of chicken stock/broth
Brined capers, about 2 teaspoons or after taste, rinsed
1/3 cup parsley, chopped

Bunch of broccollini
Butter/Olive oil
Garlic, 2 cloves
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preparation

If you are using whole chicken breasts, place between plastic stretch wrap and flatten evenly with a meat hammer (or whatever they are called).

Season chicken with salt and pepper, dredge in the flour, shake of excess.

In a large pan, heat olive oil and butter (about 2 tablespoons butter and 3 table spoons olive oil). When it starts to sizzle, add chicken and brown on both sides.

Put on plate when done and add lemon juice, stock and capers to pan. Bring to a boil, scraping up bits from the bottom of the pan. Check seasoning and add salt and pepper if desired. Add 2 tablespoons butter. Let the sauce bubble for a while. It will get less acidic after a while.

Put the chicken back in the pan, put a lid on it if you have and let putter on low, low heat. Right before serving, add the chopped parsley.

While the chicken is cooking, boil water for blanching the broccollini. When boiling, add the broccolini (thongs are good for this). Blanch for approximately 2 minutes. Do not poor off the water, use to cook the pasta! Place the broccolini in a colander and shock with icy cold water, to stop the cooking and keep the color. In a small frying pan, add a little olive oil and butter. When heated, add chopped garlic and stir until fragrant, about 45 seconds. Add broccollini and toss for a few minutes. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Serve chicken, broccollini with your pasta of choice. I used a large serving platter, put down rotini pasta, poured the chicken and sauce over and added the broccollini on the side.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Pasta Caprese

Last night I just felt like something light for dinner, and I decided to make an old favorite. It is a pasta variation on the classic Italian Caprese salad. My husband sure likes this, amazing considering it has no meat!

I usually just use what I feel like, but these are approximate guidelines:

Pasta Caprese

You will need:

Pasta (I use spaghetti) about ½ lb
Tomatoes, 3-6 depending on you preference
Mozzarella cheese, about an 8 oz chunk
Olive oil, a drizzle
Red Vine Vinegar, a splash (could probably use other kind of vinegar too)
Garlic, 1-2 cloves freshly chopped
Fresh basil, about a handful chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Preparation:

Cook pasta according to directions.
While pasta is cooking, dice the tomatoes and mozzarella cheese (about 1/4 " dice), add to large bowl.

Drizzle olive oil and vinegar on top, salt and pepper to taste (I like lots of freshly ground pepper on this), chop and add basil and garlic.

Once pasta is done,m drain it well and add to bowl and mix. The cheese will melt slightly, if you prefer the cheese non-melted you can let the pasta cool a bit. This dish goes really well with whole grain spaghetti. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Blä!

I went in to the dentist this morning for a quick fix of one of my lower small molars that chipped on Monday night.

Well, we are talking about me here, who has the worst luck when it comes to anything medical...
I ended up having to have a 2 hour long root canal! Ouch! Guess the damage was too deep to just slap some material on it... So now I have a temporary crown until I get the permanent one in 2 weeks.

So far it has not been that great being me the last 2 weeks. I found out I had yet another basal cell carcinoma, the umpteenth for anyone keeping a count. So that was sliced off. My mom died from Melanoma when I was just 1, and with that genetic wonder egg plus the occurrence of the lesser basal cell carcinoma, I am about 99 % sure to get Melanoma myself. So I will keep slicing things off every 6 months or so.

At least the test they did to see if I had chronic hives came back negative, so I just have regular hives. Yippee!!! *Very sarcastic tone here...*

I am going to see my regular Dr B in 40 minutes, he better not give me nothing but good news, I have already gone over my allowance for bad-medical-stuff-that-can-happen-to-one-person this month :-)

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Don't worry!

On the way home from picking up Sarah at her preschool I heard her from the backseat:
"I don't like snot in my nose" Followed by a wiping sound... After exclaiming to her "You did not just wipe that on your car seat cover!" She calmly replies: "Don't worry; you can clean it!"

I just picked up the photos they took of her in school, here are a couple of them, scanned. The quality of the scanner is not that great. Hard to believe that sweet face belongs to a such a shameless snot wiper, huh?



Have a great evening!

Help!

I need some help here guys! I am DONE with my Christmas present shopping (unless I find some good stuff the next weeks or so), but I have one last person left. Always teh same one...

My mother in law! It is always a huge challenge to find her something! I think I like giving present more than actually receiving them, and I like to get things that actually mean something, that fit the receiver so to speak.

MIL is proving to be an extra challenge this year. She has just come back from over 6 months of travel. After becoming a widow she sold her house and have been living in her RV, she loves traveling. She experienced a 50 day long trip through Alaska this summer, one of a kind. The problem is, she still hasn't figured out if she is going to get another house or not, since she is planning in traveling again this summer. So she has no room for stuff. Nada.

I have tried to be creative, but the things I have come up with I have gotten her previous years: jewelery, framed photos, gift cards to her favorite restaurants (good when you are on the road a lot), beauty products, more jewelry. I also got her some very nice road atlases for the US and specifically Alaska. I also got her a Florida travel book. Did I mention she is also very picky? Sigh...

I was thinking about getting her a new camera, but she has no computer. I ended up helping her getting a new cell phones, which actually has a very nice digital camera in it, so she can use that and download the pics when she comes over to us or one of her other kids' places... She is not big at all on technology otherwise.

She and I have the opposite taste to top it off. Not easy! I was thinking maybe a nice cardigan of some sort. Maybe some more book related to traveling? Help!

PS I chipped a tooth last night, so now I have a nice visit to the dentist to look forward to tomorrow morning...

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Sunday

First of all: I LOVE my new Swedish vacuum cleaner! I have no words but KICK ASS! Wow... Wish I would have thought of getting one earlier...

Last night just after sunset we went down to an area which is called the Cortez Fishing Village. They have an annual Christmas Boat Parade, and we checked out some of the colorful decorations.

One of the decorated boats getting ready to take off

This morning we had an early start and went for breakfast at a local favorite spot called the Bradenton Beach Cafe. They have an All You Can Eat pancake and sausage special (I am not a big fan, but the rest of the family likes that). We enjoyed beautiful weather of just above 70 F (20C), and you really can't beat the view!

Sarah waiting for the food

The view from our table

After that we headed over to the Anna Maria Island City Pier, where we had some good luck fishing. Sarah caught what we found out from one of the local fishermen is called a snake fish.

Please don't fall in!

She got a snake fish, all by herself!

It was pretty feisty, so we quickly let it back into the ocean...

The weather has been unusually warm lately with temperatures way over 80F (30C). Now I am off to a day of laundry and cleaning the guinea pig cage. Maybe we will make some Swedish knäck or kola too. Yum!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Busy day today

This morning Sarah had her dental appointment. The results? Still no cavities, phew! She really enjoys going to the dentist, or any kind of doctor for that matter...


She loves having her teeth cleaned!

Then my mother in law came by, she will be spending the night. We haven't seen her for over 6 months, so we have a lot to catch up on! She also came with us to Sarah's doctor's appointment this afternoon.

Right now I am working like crazy while Sarah and her grandma is outside playing in the sandbox.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Siesta

No wonder I am tired! I think this is the time of day nature intended for me to take a nap... Looking around the office I see two sleeping dogs and two sleeping guinea pigs... At least they know how to do it right! I will bring on the caffeine instead, no time to nap. But it sure looks tempting...


Huh? What? Somebody said something? I am trying to sleep here, you know!
Stan is my desk dog... Great for a quick petting session in between projects.

Bob prefers the dog bed underneath the guinea pig cage...



Crazy...

I went to bed at 2 am last night, I was up working! I have so much work I don't know where to start. But that is the life of a freelancer for you. One day you are doing nothing at all, the other you try to keep up with it all! Most of it is due by the end of today, so I better get going.

I dumped a large pile of natural peanuts in shells outside the window. I am waiting for the cute squirrels to stop the fight they are having (I think they are fighting about who gets to go up to the peanuts first!). It will get me something to watch when my eyes get all strained from looking at the computer monitor for hours.

Oh and did I mention my mother in law is coming for a visit tomorrow? We haven't seen her in over 6 months while she did her big adventurous tour of Alaska. And of course, my vacuum cleaner is broke, and we have hay all over the floors from the guinea pigs! Yay!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Growing big!

Today, for the very first time, Sarah managed to pick up and hold Stan. She has never been big or strong enough to do it previously, so this is a big thing for her. Unfortunately, the dogs are now being constantly held, which they are not too happy about... This made me think back to when she was just a few months old. Both Bob and Stan has always been very gentle with her, but especially Stan has been almost caring and definitely protective of her. Here are a few pictures from her first months together with her buddies...

Sarah holding Stan today, after picking him up, all by herself!

Sarah, 6 months, and Bob hanging out. Looks like they are singing!

The brood enjoying some sun in the window. Sarah 4 months.

Hey, leftover milk? Yum!

Bob was helpful as a prop-up tool of sorts...

Giddy up! Sarah 3 months.


Guys, aren't those my bibs? Sarah 2 months.

Sarah 2 months, mom and Stan in the office.

Hey, move your paw, I was playing with that hanging toy! Sarah 1 month.

And just one of my favorite pictures of all: 2 month old Sarah and daddy.

Christmas is coming!

Sarah and I just dressed the Christmas tree, she is mighty pleased with it! She said Santa really is going to like it when he comes to our house... I hope so too! We have been listening to the Swedish compilation Absolute Christmas, it really puts you in the spirit of the season...

We are now going to do some Christmas crafts, and then we are hopefully going to make some gingerbread dough for tomorrow. I am really in the mood to make a gingerbread house! Happy Holidays indeed!

Politics

Since I am not a US citizen I cannot vote, but I can still have an opinion. I am by no means into politics, but I have an idea of where I stand. There is a web site that via a test helps you determine which candidate you are most similar to. Mine was as follows:

John Edwards shares a 81% similarity with your beliefs

former Senator, (D-NC)
John Edwards was born June 10, 1953. He is a Democrat from North Carolina. He served the state of North Carolina as a senator in the U.S. Senate from 2000 to 2004. Prior to that he was a member of the North Carolina state Senate. Edwards was the Democratic nominee for Vice President in 2004.

Hmmm... Interesting! Hilary Clinton was second at 79 %. Take the test yourself at: Glassbooth 2008

What the hell, Dirt Devil?

I am just having one of those days today. Everything feels kind of wrong, nothing in particular, just an overall feeling of things not being like they should. Many small little things that stress me, bugging me in the back of my head. All together they just make me feel...iffy.

I don't know, maybe I just need something really fun to perk me up, a change of pace perhaps.

One of the things that annoys me right now is our vacuum cleaner. Or the lack thereof... I have had very bad luck with vacuum cleaners in the past, so I shouldn't be surprised. Anyway, last year my vacuum cleaner stopped working. Again. So instead of buying a fancy one this time I decided to buy a basic model. The 2 year warranty was also a draw. I had previously had a Dirt Devil upright that really didn't perform that well, but I figured for the low price of $58, it would be OK if it stopped working after 2 years, and if it stopped before that I would have the 2 year warranty!

Well. It stopped working about a year later. Of course. BUT I had the warranty, so I was good! I called Dirt Devil, and told the rep the motor was burned out (which definitely was the case). She still insisted on doing a Q&A "to figure out what was wrong with it". Sigh! After being on hold for a very long time I was really not in the mood, but OK. After many, many questions she finally said: "I can't figure out what is wrong with it based on my Q&A, so you need to turn it in to one of our service centers". I already TOLD her it was the motor... but OK. Which service center? She looked it up. That place is a privately owned business, I know, because I tried to have one of my previous malfunction piece of crap vacuum cleaners fixed (to no avail) there. A red flag went up. I asked: "This is your service center? It is a private business. Will I have to pay for this service call?" Rep: "Well, yes!" I am now as fuming mad as you can be without using very bad words, and I pretty much told her to put the vacuum cleaner where the sun don't shine...

Bad, BAD vacuum cleaner!

In order for me to get a replacement machine (as per the warranty) I have to turn it in to determine if it is indeed malfunctioning. But the cost of the service call is more than the cost of buiyng a new one! I would call that fraud, but I really don't have the energy to pursue it.

So now I decided to go Swedish. Electrolux, all the way! I already have a great stick vac from them, the Pronto, thank you JaCal!

Great stick vac!

I looked at their other vacuums, and I am getting myself a nice, simple Swedish style vacuum. No more of that upright shit!

Good Swedish vacuum!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Long weekend

We are enjoying our long Thanksgiving weekend!

I cooked my first turkey from scratch, it actually came out very moist and cooked perfectly! I highly recommend brining (saltlake in Swedish), it made a big difference. Otherwise I just trusted the electronic meat thermometer to know when it was cooked...

Our Thanksgiving dinner being assembled, no fancy table this year, since it was just the tree of us, and frankly I was tired after all that cooking to dolly up the table as well! Lower left is the stuffing, lower right the sweet potato casserole, the middle green bean casserole, and upper middle the turkey.

Friday was spent doing a little shopping, having a nice lunch at the Olive Garden, and then seeing the new Disney movie, Enchanted. All in all a very nice few days enjoying ourselves as a family.

We are just about ready to bring down the Christmas tree from the attic and start decorating it. We also started a new tradition last year of making our own Christmas tree ornaments, so we will be doing that as well.

We have been hanging out with the guinea pigs as well, they are really cool! Stan still would like to eat them, but can relax in the same room, even nap next to the cage. Bob is mostly a bit scared of them and acts all tough, but really don't know what to make of them!

Sarah holding Sven.

We went over to Ken's office for a few hours today, it is a great place to go for long walks on the weekend, no people at all around. Stan enjoys walking without a leash here, he listens really good to us, but he tends to sniff everything. Unfortunately he stuck his nose where it is not suppose to be today, and got stung by a bee (not his first time...) As you can see on the pictures below he is very sleepy after his Benadryl, but it really helped and the left side of his lips is looking better...

Stan trying to stay awake, you can see where he got stung, on the (your) right side.

Another look of his swollen lip/cheek, poor thing...

Hope you are all having a nice weekend as well!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Nagging works!

I FINALLY got paid by the French guy that owed me a lot of money... They had tried to ignore me and were hopefully thinking I would get tired of trying to collect. It works on a lot of people! It can be difficult and costly trying to recover overdue payments from other countries, and unfortunately there are a few bad apples out there...

BUT instead of fading away, getting tired of unanswered e-mails I started calling his office. Every day. Several times a day. I was very polite but firm. When can I expect my payment? I think I must finally have worn them down, they probably figured it wasn't worth having me nagging on them, so they paid me! Yes! So now I can have a nice, calm Thanksgiving holiday. With all my bills paid... Have a great day!

Monday, November 19, 2007

New digs & dog p*rn

I felt bad about the pigs living in Sarah's room, and their cage seemed a tad small too, so I made a larger cage, now about 10.5 square feet, and I also moved them into the office.

Sven and Jörgen enjoying their breakfast this morning

I had a perfect sized table to put the cage on, and now they get up high enough that the dogs can't get to them. Plus, since we spend a lot of time in the office, they get more company too. And Sarah get her room back... All good!

The new, bigger cage in the office. They now got plenty of space, all home made!

Yesterday the pigs went nuts, having a bit of a sex orgy. Mind you they are BROTHERS! Stan sat watching them for an hour going at it. I guess gay p*rn for dogs? Weird!

I am off to one of my twice annual skin cancer check, then I need to straighten the house out. Moving all this stuff around created a mess, and we also spent most of the day baking yesterday, so the kitchen is still a mess! But we have yummy rum cake and lots of snickerdoodle cookies!

I also did all my Thanksgiving food shopping this weekend, the fridge is crammed full! I am going to make my very own first time Thanksgiving turkey this year! I am planning on brining it, I heard it makes it really juicy... Have a great Monday!

Friday, November 16, 2007

New additions!

Today we became the proud adoptive family of two guinea pig brothers! We picked them up from a local shelter. Sarah wanted them to have Swedish names, so they are now named Sven and Jörgen. They needed a little TLC when they first arrived, their claws were really long and they fur a little greasy. They are about a year old and very affectionate. They wheek and purr a lo, very cute!

The dogs got very excited about the guinea pigs. A little too excited, so they are banned from the guinea pig room until they get used to their presence a little more. While we were out for a few hours the dog pretty much stripped the paint from the door frame, trying to get in to teh piggies! Stan is especially over excited, he keeps whining and sniffing under the door, so we gotta watch them.

Here are a few pictures of the Sven and Jörgen and their house. I built this cage myself, and will probably build a new, bigger one soon. I didn't realize how huge they are!



Thursday, November 15, 2007

Elfin cream

As you know I have been on a lot of antibiotics this fall. One problem that I have been trying to resolve has been a (even after several weeks of being off antibiotics) fungal skin infection. It is just so irritating! It is on my shoulders and upper torso and neck. Just a little dry and itchy feeling. I have tried what I can to get rid of it. It is common with people like me who has an abnormal immune system like lupus to have these kind of infections, so it is not my first time!

But yesterday I was tired of this irritating thing so I called my doctor. Luckily we have a really good relationship after almost 10 years together, so I can often resolve issues over the phone without having to come in and see him. He knows me and my medical history very well! So they called in a combination steroid/fungal cream. To be used twice daily for two weeks.

That is good and all, until I picked up the medicine and saw the package. They gotta be kidding! The container is as big as my thumb! That will last me, oh I don't know, two days maybe! It came with 5 refills, so I guess I am just suppose to refill it every other day? A joke!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

I love all animals, but...

The last couple of weeks I noticed a little parade of tiny ants in the master bathroom... They usually disappear as fast as they appear, but this time they didn't seem to be in any hurry to leave.

I don't mind these little tiny creatures, but after finding them in my toothpaste it was time to fight back.

So out with the liquid ant poison... This usually is pretty effective in getting rid of them. They really like the stuff and flocked to get a drink! Poor bastards...

Delicious "last meal" buffet!


This is where they are coming in; time to re-caulk!