Monday, October 24, 2016

R.I.P little cow

She was lying under the apple tree... The tree where the kids go on the swings. At first I thought she was only enjoying the sun, but there was something awkward about how she was lying down. Flat, not holding her head up. And the rest of the cows were at the other end of the field...

She was not alright. She was breathing rapidly and her eyes had a desperate look. She lifted her head but let it sink down quickly, back into the grass. Her mouth and nostrils were filled of mucus. Mr Daniel, our neighbor, was picking walnuts in the big tree nearby. I called for him that this cow is sick. She needs help. He climbed down the tree and came to see and quickly confirmed that this was not good. He ran to the house to call the farmer, but no one answered. He jumped in the car and drove over to his farm. But the farmer wasn't there. He left a message with one of the workers who said he would contact the farmer immediately. It was 1.30 pm.

I continued my chores in the garden, checked on the little sweet cow every 5 minutes or so. Mr Daniel continued to pick walnuts. We couldn't do much. We just waited for the farmer to get there. At 1.50pm she suddenly stopped breathing. Just like that. Right in front of my eyes. She lifted her head one last time, laid it down and - boom. She just died. It is the closest I've ever been to death. Part from all the bugs or spiders I've squished to death that is... This was different. I wanted to close her eyes but was to scared to touch her.

I shouted to Daniel that now she is gone. Then I went inside and cried for a moment. The farmer didn't arrive until 45 minutes later. He picked her up with a tractor and drove off with her in the back of his big pick up truck. With a cigarette in his mouth he waved "Bonne journée!". I guess for him it is not so emotional. Maybe it happens all the time. I don't know. But for me it was a big deal. Rest in piece little cow. I'm so sorry I couldn't save you in time.


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Saturday, October 15, 2016

The IKEA phenomenon & IKEA WOD

Photo source: House And Garden.

Going to IKEA is like coming home. I feel so comfortable there. I connect instantly. My Swedish roots makes me want to jump of joy. My heart skips a beat of pure happiness. I'm simply at home. I want to snuggle up in the beds and sofas (and sometimes I do and call a friend... totally bonkers, I know, but I just can't resist the urge of pretending I'm at home alone...). I want to indulge in dinner at the dinner set ups and craft away in their well organized craft rooms...

When living abroad, it is a blessing to live close to an IKEA. I go here when I have Swedish cravings. I go here when I am home sick. I go here when I want to reconnect with my own Swedish self. I go there to meet a friend.

It is surprising how a traditional shrimp sandwich with egg and mayonnaise can make me so happy, even if it is crappy compared to many I enjoy during my Swedish summer visits. How a coffee with a piece of Princess cake will make me feel SOOOO Swedish and all giggly inside. How the fabric with Scandinavian prints with influences from our folksy tradition can make me long for Swedish folk music, dance and anything homemade. Suddenly I want a rustic lodge home with lots of blankets, throws and cuddly fur to cuddle up into in front of a fire place.

IKEA is only 10 minutes away from where I live, still I don't visit that very often (what is often anyway?). Because it is SOOO popular and ALWAYS packed with people. And I'm not a big fan of crowds. But when facing a part in my life where I need to do some home make overs to really nest in this country where I now have lived for 9 years (!!! it is about time to put up roof lights and pictures on the walls. Seriously. What am I waiting for?), IKEA was my obvious choice of inspiration and shopping.

People (read male homo sapiens...) might not understand the joy and fulfillment a woman can feel by a visit to IKEA. But it is not just about having coffees, home decoration dreaming and spending unexpected cash coming home with a large blue IKEA bag full of - "nothing"??? Or in my eyes this "nothing" is a collection of SOOOO many essential things needed for our home, such as:

• New napkins with seasonal print - because it is only 1.50 USD - I take 4 packs!!!
• Candles - because we always need candles
• Maybe a fairy light to put up somewhere - because it is just sooo cute!
• A couple of new cushion covers - because it is a quick make over fix and so cheap!
• A smart organizing insert for a drawer - just because...
• Pot coasters - because one day I will crochet covers for them and give them away as gifts...
• A new whisk - no comment as we already have four...
• Some batteries - I mean the kids kind of EAT batteries in this house!!!
• A welcome rug for the entrance - can be the start of a much longed for hall make over... maybe...
• A flower with accompanied pot - always needed, will always die too...
• Some frames - because one day I WILL make that picture wall I see in every interior magazine
• Some gift bags, wrapping paper and fun party decorations - oh yes!
• A trash bin - because it was there. I stumbled over it on my IKEA stroll and I just remembered that I need one!
• A storage box for something... Or maybe two... Three... I'll take four. It is an even number. :)
• Some clever portable hooks - I promise they will make a huge difference somewhere in the house.
• Oh, and some pick and mix, cinnamon buns and Kalles Caviar - of course!

I mean, what can we do? Of course we need all these things. And everything is so cheap! And pretty! Until we reach the cash register and it chews up 200 dollars from your credit card. Well, many small ponds can create a big ocean. I don't mind an IKEA ocean. :) I'll dive in at any time!!!

And just to let you know. Even though my intention was to "look" at dressers for this particular visit, I did scrabble down some measurements to bring with me back home. The day after I did go back and did the IKEA stroll one more time, with blinders on, and I worked hard to pile up 13 big boxes of dresser pieces on my mega big trolley from 3 different loading zones a la "DIY"... And I did NOT buy anything else at this time (well, part from the hangers, rug-anti slip-mat, the new kitchen chair covers and some magazine collectors...!!!). I loaded my car - ALONE - I unloaded the car when hitting home - ALONE - and carried every single HEAVY box up the stairs. And afterwards, while sipping on a cold IKEA Pear drink at the kitchen table, wiping the sweat off my forehead, I thought to myself:

This was a hell of a WOD (workout of the day in CrossFit terms...). I'll call it the IKEA WOD. I walked 5000 steps through IKEA and up and down my stairs at home, the day before I walked another 3500 steps when taking measurements (huuhm...), I did at least 13 deep squats with 15 kilo weights and I feel like wonder woman after all that exercise. That, my friends, is a great workout. Never underestimate the fitness in an IKEA visit or purchase. Now time to assemble all those pieces... That will burn some serious brain calories I'm sure. Wish me luck. :)

Note: All photos taken with my iPhone if nothing else stated.


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Sunday, October 9, 2016

My veranda make over

This is how the previous owners had the veranda.

This past summer was our second summer in the summer house. I decided to do a make over of the veranda to put my stamp on it. I thought this project would be done in a few days, but it actually took a good 4 weeks as my time was scattered between summer activities, family socializing and vacation relaxing time.

Our summerhouse was built in the 60's and the dark color brown was the hot trend in those days. To repaint the house in red and white (like I would love to do) is not an option today, but the dark brown veranda could easily be more light and cheerful with a splash of white. Said and done. I went to the hard ware store and made my equipment purchase and went home with a list of advice from the store and got started.

This was a project with high satisfaction level I must say. It was a bit of hard work but the outcome is fabulous! I love my new veranda. It is far from finished but I'm getting there and this is the place I dream of when I want to escape, have some solitude time and reconnect with my heart and soul. I thought I would share my project with you in a Step-By-Step style, to inspire you to take on a little project to  create your own happy place.

Time to prep for a veranda make over.

Step 1 - Preparing for the make over
The very first thing I did was removing all hooks, screws and nails I could find. I took away anything that didn't need to be on the veranda and got myself some equipment for the project:
- Newspapers
- Masking tape for windows
- Paint brushes
- Wood wash
- Sponges
- Scrubbing brush
- Base paint
- Outdoor paint

I was recommended to scrub and wash all walls and beams to take away old spider webs, mold patches and dirt spots. I bought some special wash liquid for the facades, but I'm pretty sure it would have worked well with just soap and water. I had a scrubby and a sponge and first I just wet it all down with water, then I washed it with the wash mix and then I rinsed with water again... I think this procedure was the most time consuming and hard one. Maybe I didn't need to do it so "perfect" but this was what they recommended at the hardware store so I did it.

* * *
Masking the windows with tape is essential for a good result.

Step 2 - Mask with tape
Then I added masking tape on windows and the house wall. I used a special masking tape specialized for windows. It was more easy to remove after and did not leave any glue stains on the windows. I have to say it was worth the extra pennies spent as this tape also could be left on the windows longer and therefor I didn't need to remove the tape after every single layer of paint. What a time saver.

* * *

Base coat is coming on.

Step 3 - Base paint
I used a special outdoor base paint that protects the wood from mold and water. This was a fun part as I could really see how the veranda now started to transform. The paint job didn't need to be perfect. It was quite easy to do this step.I choose to leave the wall to the house in its original brown color for a couple of reasons:
1. I'm not sure the veranda will stay forever. We are planning on making some extensions to the house and the veranda might be moved or changed. Because of this I don't want to interfere with the color of the main house.
2. As the beams are brown, it looks good with the brown wall. It keeps it all together. And if I change my mind I can always paint the wall white later. Better to add too little salt than too much, right?

* * *
My nephew Axel (4) helped out with his Mama to put the first layer of paint.

The paint job is finished! Some of the windows can be detached when the weather allows. So nice. :)
Nelly Bo chilling on the veranda.

Step 4 - Paint
On recommendation I bought a white outdoor paint with a sting of cream to make it less cold. This paint is supposed to protect the wood from weather and wind, wet and cold, and as my veranda is not an insulated place I thought this would be a good idea. I even got my little nephew Axel to put his hand on this together with his Mama Linda, so now this make over has some family memories painted in as well. :)

I added 2 layers of this paint, letting it thoroughly dry in between. I cheated at one point and added on the second layer after just a couple of hours as it felt dry, but when stripping off the tape later on it took all the paint with it so that was a lesson learned. Let every layer dry overnight to be on the safe side.

* * *
My veranda today. Not finished yet, but I'm getting there. :)

Curtains are coming up.
Me putting up curtains using curtain string wire. Simple and quick. 
My beautiful thrifted old flap table with her curvy gracious legs. She needs a blog post on her own.

Step 5 - Decorate
This was the fun part!!! I have made some great finds on flea markets with my veranda in mind. The wooden kitchen bench is from my Mama and I will paint it and add a new fabric cover to it at some point. I'm still deciding on color in my head: Scandinavian blue or red. Or maybe okra. Or grey. Or white. Or a moss green. Not sure.

I'm incredible happy with the flap table which I talked down to 40 dollars from an initial 60. I was hunting for a table with curvy legs and this table really is a beauty. I thought I would paint the legs white and keep the top in original wood, but I kind of like it just the way it is.

The rag rug was a bargain from another flea market and goes perfect with the table. Here comes a confession... I have actually bought about 4 or 5 different rag rugs for this veranda, but this one is the one.

The curtains were also found on a market, ready to put up on some curtain string wire. I like them but the arrangement hasn't really clicked with me yet. They look cute form the inside, but not so cute from the outside... Just recently I saw a beautiful picture of lace curtains on a veranda on Pinterest here... I think I will do that for next summer.

I would like to do something to the floor but I can't really make up on my mind on what I want to do. Paint it? In what color? Grey, checked with squares or maybe just scrub it and oil it... This is an entrance after all so it has to be practical more than pretty I believe... Well, I got plenty of time to figure that out until next summer.

Next summer I will add some window sills, put up some hooks and some decorations and paintings. I have a beautiful water color original drawing which was gifted to me by Heike at Made With Loops. When I got it I just knew that this is where it belongs once my veranda is ready for it. I'll continue my veranda make over journey next summer in hope to complete it in full.

I hope you have enjoyed it so far and if you are looking for more veranda inspiration, visit my Veranda Board on My Pinterest

Other boards on My Pinterest that might be of your interest are:

Rag Rug Love Board

Folklore Love Board

My Dream Home Board

Sweden Love Board


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