New Blog!

Greetings from Venice!
Greetings from Venice!

Hey everyone!

Long time no talk – am I right? I know it has been over a year since I have posted, but I have decided it is finally time to break my silence and start up a new blog that I promised Bea oh I don’t know…eight months ago? Oh well, better late than never!

Anyway a lot has changed since I last posted. I visited over 16 countries, graduated from high school, and enrolled for college at UW Madison class of 2019! I am also set to embark on my next adventure which will be volunteering in Sri Lanka on an elephant conservation for a month! I leave in 9 days and could not be more excited. Which is why I have decided to start up blogging again, so all of you can follow along with my latest adventures.

Without further adeui here is the link to my new blog:

Postcards from Hannah

Click on it, follow me, and spread the word! I look forward to connecting with you all again!

 

-Hannah

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Hej då Sweden :(

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Today is my last full day in Sweden. Everyone told me that the time would go fast, but seriously the time has simply flown before my eyes. It feels as though it was just yesterday I was sitting on my giant suitcase in my room in America while my mom helped to zipper it shut and now here I am packing it up once again.

Even as my bags sit in my room fully packed, it still has not hit me yet that I am actually leaving. These past six months have been some of the best in my entire life. I have learned and grown so much as a person and experienced so many unforgettable things. I could go off on a rant explaining all of this, but I want to keep this post short and sweet. After all I feel like I have captured everything on this blog very well. The ups, the downs, the memories, I know will now forever have on here to look back on.

Tomorrow I will take a bus to Copenhagen where I will begin a whole new adventure of traveling Europe for 22 days before finally returning home. Below I will post a link of a blog the students and I will be keeping throughout my trip so you can see what I am up too!

BeloEuro Tour Student Blog 2014

I will post a few times when I get home about what it is like returning to America, reverse culture shock I have, etc.

Thank you all my lovely readers for following me on my adventure, I hope you have enjoyed reading this blog as much as I have enjoyed writing it.

I will catch up with you all in a few weeks, but for now I am off to explore the world!

 

Swedish Word of the Day: “slutlig” – final, the end, coming to an end

 

My First Swedish Midsomer

Today is Midsomer here in Sweden, but all of the fun and festivities took place yesterday.

You can see here a girl wearing her flower wreath while selling some fresh Swedish strawberries.
You can see here a girl wearing her flower wreath while selling some fresh Swedish strawberries at the market.
Bea and Olivia scrubbing the potatoes to go with the herring feast to come.
Bea and Olivia scrubbing the potatoes to go with the herring feast to come.

The morning started off calm. I got a nice workout in at the gym, then headed off to the market with Bea to pick up a few last minute things before our guests started to arrive. The market was bursting with people getting ready for the huge celebrations to come! Flower wreaths were being sold, potatoes were being bought by the buckets, and everyone seemed to be in a great mood.

At around 12:30 our guests started to arrive. In total there were 9 adults and 5 kids – Bea’s cousin with his wife and son, Mats best friend and family, and of course MorMor and Douglas. The weather was great so while the kids ran around and played, the rest of us relaxed out on the balcony preparing for the feast too come.

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Before we ate, we had to complete one import task – making our own flower wreaths!

Here you can see Bea working hard on hers.
Here you can see Bea working hard on hers.
And me - posing with the final product!
And me – posing with the final product!

This is very tradition Midsomer attire and all through town girls can be seen sporting their wreaths. Now that we had gotten that out of the way, it was finally time to eat!

For lunch we had a dish made with boiled potatoes, mayo, and herring, topped with fresh dill and cilantro. Herring and potatoes are the key staple foods for Midsomer. All around Sweden people were eating this exact thing, taking advantage of this once a year chance to eat as much herring as they can. While I will admit, herring defiantly is not a favorite of mine and the first time I tried it I almost puked. That being said, I have had it two more times here in Sweden and it really is growing on me! Not that I would go out and eat a whole can on my own or anything, but it really is not that bad. The dish Bea made was really tasty and pairing the herring with potatoes and herd make it a lot more bearable. We also had some good old knackbrod and cheese on the side to go with our herring dish. Doesn’t get more Swedish than that.

Throughout the lunch we sang traditional Swedish “schnapp songs”, and cheered more times than I can remember. It was all good fun and I certainly was feeling very Swedish by the end of it.

At 3 oclock we all headed down to the park to do some traditional May Pole dancing

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All the girls spent an hour dancing and singing circles are the pole. While I will admit the dances were a little strange it was still goof fun.

Once we were down dancing everyone came back to the house to relax. We returned to the patio where Douglas treated us to a little mini concert.

Before dinner, the little girls and I all went out to collect 7 different wild flowers to sleep with under our pillows. This is a super old Midsomer tradition and legend has it that if you do this you will dream about the boy you are going to marry.

By the time we came back we were ready to start our first course – 10 kg of Crayfish!

Normally, people do not eat Crayfish for Midsomer and rather they save it for late August when there is an entire Day in Sweden dedicated to eating Crayfish called “Crayfish Feast”. However, Bea had really wanted me to try the crayfish before I left, so we had it as a little starter before dinner. It was so good! I had to stop from stuffing myself full so I could still have room for dinner later.

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After the crayfish we digested a bit by playing “Norwegian Karaoke”. I had never heard of this before yesterday, but it is actually a lot of fun! The way it is played is everyone sits around in a circle and then one person listens to a song with headphones on so they cannot hear themselves, then they must sing the song they are listening to while everyone else tries to guess what the song is.

We started our dinner at 10pm. Midsomer celebrates the longest day of the year, and even at 10 it was still broad daylight out! For dinner most Swedes grill out which is exactly what we did. We had a feast of steak, duck, hallomi cheese, asparagus risotto, and a big salad.

After consuming all of that I never thought I could eat again, but for those who could muster up some strength there was a dessert of fresh strawberries with choklad kaka and ice cream – the traditional Midsomer dessert.

The rest of the evening was spent relaxing, chatting, and watching Narnia. It was a really late night, but it was totally worth being tired today. I truly could not have asked for a better Midsomer experience.

 

Swedish Word of the Day:Misdsomer”

Hiking in the Swedish Forest

Here are some pictures from my hike this morning!

We even found some…

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Mushrooms!

The hike was great, we went around a giant lake then had lunch in the woods.

I spent the rest of my day running errands and helping Bea get everything ready for out big Midsomer celebration tomorrow! I am so excited to see what this crazy holiday is all about.

Here is a picture of my amazing dinner that I feasted on after yoga. Bea made her famous Indian Shrimp Curry and it was so good I simply had to post a picture.

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Hope everyone has a great day! I am off to bed as I have a HUGE day ahead of me tomorrow.

Mini Golf and a Picnic

Good Morning! I am doing anther late blog because I was so exhausted by the time I got home last night again that I literally collapsed in my bed.

Yesterday, was not really suppose to be a busy day for me, but once again I felt like I was running from one activity to the next! I started off with breakfast and a quick trip to the gym. When I came home I had plans to enjoy the rest of the morning out in the garden with a book, but the kiddos had other plans in mind. The market was in town, so of course the kids wanted some of the fresh Swedish strawberries that are sold there. Who am I to say no, so not 5 minutes after I had sat down we were off to the market!

Our hungry tummies brought us home at around 12:30 where we then enjoyed a giant smorgasbord of leftovers that included pesto, quinoa salad, cod, a salad, and some fresh fruit. So yummy!

We had just finished eating, I was blissfully full and ready to finally settle down and read my book when all of the sudden the phone rings – it is Beas dad saying he will be at the house in 10 minutes to take us all mini golfing.

Before I knew it I was on the move again. Mini golf was actually a lot of fun though! Jessica, the girls, and I all had a blast playing the cute little course that we have here in town. MorFar kept score, but accidently filled the scorecard out wrong so we just called it a tie (even though I am 99% sure I killed everywhere 🙂 ) After 18 holes everyone was feeling a little tired and was in serious need of some sugar re-fuel so we went for some ice cream.

By the time we got home it was 4 oclock, I was really tired and had to get ready for a BBQ/picnic that I was going to tonight, but the weather was so nice out I decided to go for a quick 45 minute powerwalk. I got to take advantage of the amazing path along the sea while I can! I got home, quick changed, then headed out to meet some friends at the fortress for a BBQ.

We all brought our own food, and gathered around our little make shift grill. It was a lot of fun and we spent the evening laughing, talking, and even played a little soccer. As the sun went down we decided it was time for a change a scenery and headed into town to find somewhere to watch the Word Cup Games.

By the time I got home all it took was for my head to hit the pillow and I was out. Another day that simply flew before my eyes!

Last Cooking with Hannah Tuesday – Cranberry Walnut Quinoa Summer Salad

 

Can you believe it? The last Cooking with Hannah Tuesday…ever!!! I am actually quite sad about it; however, the bright news is I went out with a Bang!

This quinoa salad is truly the perfect summer salad. It would go great at a BBQ, picnic, or nice dinner with friends. Sweet, yet filling, the unique blend of cranberries, cilantro, walnuts, and feta will wow all of your guests and leave your taste buds craving more. It is really easy to make as well, and can easily be stored in the fridge. An added bonus is how pretty the salad itself looks! I love the deep red from the cranberries and quinoa.

Ingredients: (makes enough for 4-6 as a side)

  • 3/4 cup uncooked quinoa (I used red, but white works as well)
  • 1/4 cup buckwheat groats (can sub for brown rice)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/3 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese crumbled

Dressing:

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. flax or hemp oil
  • 3-4 tbsp. honey or agave
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg

Procedure:

  1. Cook quinoa and buckwheat in water. (Mix in pot, bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and cover. Let cook about 20-25 min or until all water is gone, then fluff with a fork.)
  2. Whisk together dressing ingredients
  3. Combine everything in one giant bowl and Enjoy!

Today was another busy day! I woke up, took Lucy for a walk, went to yoga, and ate lunch. At around 1 the girls, Bea and I went flower picking to get some flowers that we then will use to make a “syrup” of sorts that when added to water makes an all natural juice type drink. I will let you guys all know what I think of it when I get to try it on Friday for Midsomer.

After we made the drink, Jessica arrived! The old Au Pair I mention in my previous post. We spent the afternoon talking and went on a nice walk. It was so nice talking to her about what it was like to live abroad etc. Also, she is a fellow yoga and health fanatic which helps :).

The kids had soccer so Mats, Bea, Jessica, and I enjoyed the piece in quite and ate out on the patio. We plan to spend the rest of the evening out on the balcony, then are going to watch the Brazil vs Mexico game later!

Swedish Word of the Day: “fläder” – elderberry flower that we picked and used to make the special drink.

Monday Madness

I know that technically this blog is a day late, but hey – better late than never right! I had meant to blog last night, I really did, but life got in the way like it always seems to do lately.

Yesterday started off like every other morning. Wakeup, eat, coffee, read news. At around 9:30 I headed off to the gym to get a nice morning sweat in. After the gym I cam home, showered, and quick ran into town to do some errands.

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By the time I got home I was STARVING so I whipped up a nice little smorgasbord of a chopped apple, carrots, red pepper, cucumber, and two little sandwiches with avocado, salmon, tomatoes, and cheese. I am a girl who loves her veggies and smoked salmon what can I say?

Once inhaling all of that I decided to take Lucy for a nice long walk because the weather was so nice out. We walked along the sea which was packed with people enjoying the beautiful summer day.

We got home at around 2:30 which gave me just enough time to clean up the kitchen a bit and lay out some coffee mugs for my Fika with Marita. Marita is my coordinator here, the person I go to if I am having troubles, etc. She really is a sweet heart and I had a lovely time sitting and chatting with her one final time about my experience here in Sweden. She even gave me and Bea little going away presents! Bea got some nice chocolates and I got a very Swedish hand towel.

Fika concluded at around 4, then Bea and I took Lucy for another quick walk around the fortress to get some fresh air.

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Once we got home it was time for me to start cooking! My last week here I want to cook for the family as much as I can, so last night I made the favorite Roasted Tomato Pesto. Except this time I used whole grain penne pastas and added some sautéed spinach. So So So Yummy!

After dinner, I headed out to meet some friends to watch the World Cup Games! Once the Germany vs Portugal slaughter ended we decided to go out and meet up with some other friends and catch the end of the local semi-professional “Varberg Bois” team that was playing in town tonight.

I got home from that fairly early at around 10pm and it was still broad daylight out, so Bea and I decided to take a walk on the sea and have a little photo-shoot. I have mentioned before Beas amazing photography skills and how we are trying to get my senior picture. We are getting closer and closer, but still have not found “The One” yet. Here are some examples of some pictures she has taken of me.

Not to worry everyone, I will still be posting my final “Cooking with Hannah Tuesday” recipe later today in another blog post. I am super excited because the families old Au Pair, Jessica, is coming to stay with us for 2 days and she is arriving this afternoon! More on that later, for now I am off to yoga. Hej då!

 

Swedish Word of the Day: “sen” – late

Sunday Photo Diary

I have not done a Photo Diary in forever, so I thought I would do one today and show you all what I have been up too.

8:00 – Wake up!

This is what my typical morning looks like. Yogurt bowl filled with granola, coconut flakes, flaxseeds, cinnamon, a handful of nuts, frozen berries, and a banana! (yes all of that is hiding under there I promise) I will eat this feast with a giant cup of coffee while reading the news on my tablet.
This is what my typical morning looks like. Yogurt bowl filled with granola, coconut flakes, flaxseeds, cinnamon, a handful of nuts, frozen berries, and a banana! (yes all of that is hiding under there I promise) I will eat this feast with a giant cup of coffee while reading the news on my tablet.

9:30 – Powerwalk

11:00 – Yoga

Felt so good to relax and stretch after my long powerwalk. I am going to miss these free yoga classes at my gym so much!
Felt so good to relax and stretch after my long powerwalk. I am going to miss these free yoga classes at my gym so much!

12:30 Lunch

 

 After yoga I was starving, so I made these super easy, yummy, lettuce wraps. To make all I did was sautéed a bunch of veggies in one clove of garlic, a little water, and some salt/pepper. No oils needed because the vegetables “sweat” and help all of the flavors to blend together. Once done, I layered some smoked salmon on lettuce leaves, poured my cooked veggies on top, and viola! Lunch is served!

1:30 Beach time

The sun was shinning and there was not a cloud in the sky, so I decided to take advantage of this beautiful day and head down to the Womens Bastad to soak up some rays and read my book. The book I am reading is by a Swedish author and is called " The Hundred year Old Man Who Climbed Out of a Window and Disappeared" (quite the mouthful). I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a great summer read! I know it sounds a little strange, but just give it a try - I guarantee you wont regret it!
The sun was shinning and there was not a cloud in the sky, so I decided to take advantage of this beautiful day and head down to the Womens Bastad to soak up some rays and read my book. The book I am reading is by a Swedish author and is called ” The Hundred year Old Man Who Climbed Out of a Window and Disappeared” (quite the mouthful). I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a great summer read! I know it sounds a little strange, but just give it a try – I guarantee you wont regret it!

15:00 – Made some homemade granola

…and then of course I had to do a little taste test. Nothing beats fresh granola straight from the oven! 🙂

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16:00 – Tea time relaxation

I watched a documentary on David Beckham while sipping on a nice cup of green tea. I honestly rarely, if ever watch Tv here, but sometimes its nice to just take a break and watch one show.
I watched a documentary on David Beckham while sipping on a nice cup of green tea. I honestly rarely, if ever watch Tv here, but sometimes its nice to just take a break and watch one show.

18:00- Dinner

Here is a picture of my dinner feast from tonight. I actually had one more sandwich after finishing all of this because they were just so good! I toasted whole grain bread, then layered cheese, tomato, avocado, and fresh basil (not pictured). Then I simply sprinkled some sea salt and freshly ground pepper on top. I paired it with a giant salad. The perfect light summer dinner.

I will now be spending the rest of my evening watching some World Cup soccer before bed! As you can see my host family was missing in all of my pictures, that is because they took the day to go to Lego Land over in Denmark! They invited me to go along, but as tempting as that sounded I decided to stay home and enjoy some much needed me time.

I have exactly one week in Sweden left! Let the real countdown begin!

Swedish Word of the Day: “Fars Dag” – Father’s Day!

No Dad, even though I am 10000 miles away, I did not forget about your special day! Although it pains me that I cannot give you a giant hug, and enjoy a long morning walk, followed by a great brunch with you today, I am comforted by the fact that we will soon be reunited!

On top of the giant mountain we hiked up.
On top of the giant mountain we hiked up.

One of the best weeks of my life was when we went up north camping. Just me, you, and a little shack for a whole week. I dragged you on 6 mile kayak trips, 3 mile long deadly hikes, and a whopping 20 mile bike ride. All of that and you never complained once. Okay, maybe there were a few complaints, but hey in the end you did it!

Thank you for being the best dad ever. I know we fight sometimes, but in the end you know that I always love you. I love our racket ball games, watching Shark Tank together, and our whole foods trips. You are always up to try new things and always support me in everything. You push me to try my best in school and taught me responsibility at such a young age. I am proud to say that I have become the mature young adult that I am today because of you and the amazing example you have set for me. Always working hard, always on time, reliable, kind, funny (well, that one may be debatable 😉 ), loving, adventurous, you truly are the best dad I ever could have asked for and I am so proud to be able to call myself your daughter. I love you so much and I will see you in 27 days!

 

 

 

Things I will Miss…and some not so much

 

My time here is winding down, I have a mere 8 days left in Sweden. 8 days. How crazy is that? It literally feel likes just yesterday that I was sitting on the floor in my room in America, surrounded by a tornado of clothing, desperately trying to figure out how on earth I was suppose to fit all of my clothes for 7 months into one suitcase, and now it is almost time to pack up everything once again.

I have been a whirlwind of emotions lately. One second I am so sad to be leaving I want to handcuff myself to my Swedish room and never leave, and then the next I long for home so much that I wish I could skip the next month all together and take the first flight home. It is strange really, I honestly have not had a problem with homesickness my entire time here, but this past week I have been more homesick than ever before. By that I do not mean I am sitting in my room sobbing all day, not that at all, I haven’t shed one tear in fact. I just mean that I have been thinking about home a lot more as my departure gets closer and closer and I am beginning to miss/look forward to a lot of things.

Seeing my friends for the first time, sleeping in my own bed, going for a morning walk with my mom. All things I have subconsciously missed, but not really have thought about because home was so far off, but now I find my mind constantly drifting toward these fond memories making me really miss home.

Bea says that this is totally normally and she has experienced the exact same thing. She says that our minds “protect ourselves” in the beginning, by not letting us think about home/things we miss because it is so far away in the future. However, as time goes on and the end comes near, your mind starts to drift to home and let down its walls that have been up the past months.

All of this being said I am still having a great time here in Sweden! I plan to make the best of my last week here and it is already jam packed with all sorts of fun activities such as forest hikes, barbeques on the beach, and Midsomer!

Below I have made a list of “Things I will miss from Sweden” “Things I will not miss from Sweden” and Things I miss in America”. Hope you guys find it interesting, I took the simplest things from home for granted – it is funny to see what I so desperately miss, definitely not what I expected to long for that’s for sure.

Things I will miss from Sweden:

  • beach/sea
  • walking everywhere
  • Beas cooking
  • having a castle right outside my bedroom window
  • THE GYM!!! (seriously I am in love with my gym here, I may actually tear up my last workout)
  • trains
  • simplicity of life
  • the yogurt. Seriously, the pour-able yogurt brings yogurt to a whole new level
  • “sauna”- ing/nude beaches
  • forest walks
  • Fikas in MorMors garden
  • cars actually stopping for you when you want to cross the street
  • the market
  • long afternoons with Bea on the balcony
  • and of course, the thing I will miss the most – the BEST, most amazing host family I ever could have asked for

Things I will NOT Miss from Sweden:

  • the wind. You have to experience it to know what I mean, but the wind off of the sea can be absolutely deadly.
  • having near 24 hour lightness in June. It was cool for a day, but now I am really tired of the sun rising at 3 am and the birds with their nonstop chirping.
  • all of the stores closing at 5 on week days, 3 on Saturdays, and nothing being opened on Sunday

Things I miss from America:

  • Peanut butter and Jelly sandwiches. It has been over 6 months since I have had one of these beauty’s. SIX MONTHS! They simply do not exist in Sweden. I tried to explain to my friends what they were and they thought it sounded repulsive. Now technically I suppose if I really wanted I could make my own (thanks mom and dad to send me 6 jars of peanut butter), but it just isn’t the same.
  • Noisy Mornings. Back home in the mornings we have the news blaring, Dakota going crazy, Belle yelling, Dad running everywhere looking for his keys, mom cooking, you get the picture. It is madness, but I miss the madness. Especially the news in the mornings. Here in Sweden we have very quite mornings, no tv, no craziness, dim lights, etc. While I have gotten used to it and find it somewhat relaxing, I am really looking forward to my hectic mornings back home.
  • Morning walks with my mom and dad
  • CANNED PUMPKIN! Another strange one, but it actually does not exist here. I cannot wait to get home and buy a giant can so I can make my beloved pumpkin oatmeal, pumpkin granola, pumpkin bread, pumpkin everything!
  • My job, ha okay maybe not, but I do miss the money that comes with it.
  • and all my real family that helped make this dream come true. I cannot wait to come home and share this wonderful experience with everyone.

 

These are just a few things off of the top of my head. The lists could really go on and on, but now I am feeling lazy and the weather is simply too nice out to be sitting inside any longer – so I am off for a nice long walk!

 

Swedish Word of the Day: “vecka” – week

Graduation

This morning was my schools Graduation. I am only a year 2, so my class did not get to graduation unfortunately; however, we did get to go and watch all of the festivities!

The ceremony itself started at 10 and was held in the local theater. It was similar to the graduations in America, but a lot smaller and no body walked across the stage or got diplomas. A lot of kids performed, and each class/major (there are only four in my school) got to come up and stage and give a little performance. The whole thing lasted about and hour and half, much shorter than most American graduations as well which was nice.

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After words we all went back to the school to enjoy a little cake, chat, and get our final report cards.

In the afternoon the graduates will spend time with their families, do a little parade through town, and have a nice dinner. Once nighttime falls is when the real partying begins!

 

Swedish Word of the Day: “Ta studenten” – graduation. Quite literally it means “take the student”