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Posts Tagged ‘expat’

The air here is filled with the aroma of spring and the landscape is diligently following right along as it loyally does each and every season.

green flower

Apparently, the trusted Swedes inform me, it’s rare to see these gorgeous sights of spring cropping up in these parts of Sweden so early in the year.

In March of most previous years, the lake would still be completely frozen over (as in frozen solid – thick enough to drive your car on – oh, you can probably only imagine the fun Fattie and his brothers have skidding around the lake with their ‘ice cars’ – can’t wait for that adventure), it would be minus some stinking temperature that is synonymous with ‘bitterly freakin’ bone chilling cold’, and there could easily be a meter plus (that’s 3.28 feet for my friends in the US or those of us challenged with the metric system) of snow packed high outside.

So, what’s the deal this season?

We barely had a winter at all here; just a touch of snow 2 or 3 times that melted within days of falling. I mean – don’t get me wrong – I’m certainly not complaining. Whatever the reason – I love it. Spring is coming and I can almost taste it.

Out on my walk this morning, I snapped a few photos.

boat

 

forest trees

It’s almost as if it’s teasing us – just peaking out around the corner to give us a glimpse of what delights are heading our way.

flowers

Even the golf course is looking green green-ish.

stream

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Wow….What an amazing trip!

Italy for Valentines Day? Yup. A ski holiday I would have only dreamt about last year. Truly a one of a kind gift. Thanks Fattie!

Obviously, one of the great benefits of living in Europe is how easily you can hop from country to country. So a quick flight to Milan along with a 2 hour drive and we were sipping Italian wine in the snowy Alps. We stayed in the small quaint village of Champoluc, close to the Swiss and French borders. Spending most of our time up in those gorgeous mountains with the sun shining down on us was….D-I-V-I-N-E.

Everyone knows I’m a beginning skier and don’t particularly like to be out in the cold so initially I was just jacked to be ‘going away’ for holiday – spending my birthday and Valentines in Italy sounded perfect. But after a week of hitting the slopes every stinking day, bruises and all, I was equally excited about the skiing. The snow was perfect for a newbie like me, the pistes were all trimmed and fresh, and gazing at the Matterhorn everyday was incredible.

The main chair lift is conveniently located smack dab in the middle of town. Every morning after downing an espresso we sauntered 10 minutes over to the gondolas and were off. We skied the majority of the day and by 5 in the afternoon, beer in hand, we were firmly planted on our bums warming up in one of the after ski joints watching the mountains turn pink from the setting sun.

Words fail me. I’m at a loss on how to convey the pure beauty of the scene.

I would highly recommend Italy’s largest skiing region Monterosa Ski to those looking for an Italian winter ski/snow board holiday. Beautiful, low key, family friendly, and affordable. You can hit the lifts (38 of them!) and manage to ski several valleys throughout the day before making your way back into town. Fantastic and surprisingly undiscovered. At times, it felt as if we were the only ones there.

We even mustered up the guts to tackle an adventure course high up in the trees. Cable walks, zip lines, and suspension bridges – 22 courses in all. It was a little nerve racking but a grip of fun. Parco Avventura is definitely a must do if you make it to Champoluc, Italy.

I can’t wait for Valentines 2009.

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If you’re considering starting The Master Cleanse fast, also known as the Lemonade Diet, I would highly encourage you to read the book that started this sensation, Master Cleanse, by Stanley Burroughs.

Download the free PDF http://healthandlight.com/TheMasterCleanse.pdf or purchase Burroughs book on The Master Cleanse website.

As mentioned in an earlier posting, there is also a substantial amount of tremendously useful material in the Master Cleanse Discussion Forums.

mcbook

Below is an excerpt, written for newcomers on the Master Cleanse fast, taken directly from the MC discussion forums.

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That’s it? That’s all you got? Day 10 has been a breeze.

We were able to lounge around the house this morning but my type A personality kicked in….

So, after scouring the ENTIRE abode in some kind of delirious deep cleaning frenzy, I grabbed the in-laws pooch and marched towards the golf club to see how my trusty Fattie was progressing on the remodel. Wow. That guy is bordering on being the handiest person I’ve gazed my eyes upon. F can accomplish anything that crosses his path and truly embraces a challenge. I heart him.

……………………………

10 days on master cleanse. I made it. No cheating.

Also no creamy risotto. No cream brulee. No lemon & herb roasted chicken. No cheese fondue. No rum laced bread pudding. No pinot nior. No cheesy margarita pizza. No fois gras. No ice cold beer. No banana bread. No garlic mashed potatoes. No freshed squeezed orange juice. No juicy filet mignon. No ceasar salad with homemade dressing & crunchy Parmesan croutons. No warm chocolate chip cookies. No diet coke. No Häagen-Dazs. Not even an avocado.

Not one lick.

But this amazing journey has been about a lot more than just a lack of tasty food, which I’m sure will be scrawled down in the upcoming days….

For now, I’m gratefully savoring my last few lemonades.

This song, Blessed by Brett Dennen, sums up exactly how I’m feeling.

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I just couldn’t do it. Not another 24 hours! Honestly, I really really tried. I almost made it; but I couldn’t manage one more stinking day.

Master cleanse? Nah. Come on. Are you kidding me right now? That’s a no brainer.

I’m talking about the Christmas tree, silly! See, here in Sweden things are a little bit different around the holidays. Let me explain……First off, Christmas eve is the ‘big day’ equivalent to Christmas day in the States. This is the day when everyone exchanges presents and the height of the holidays are officially kicked off with an elaborately grand smörgåsbord (the Christmas buffet is called a julbord or yule smörgåsbord – translated means Christmas table).

xmas tree

Secondly, most Swedes put up the Christmas tree just 1 or 2 days before December 24th, ‘the big day’. Which by my calculations leaves a measly 24 to 48 hours to decorate the darn thing before the show starts! And if you’re like me, with hundreds of twinkling lights and gorgeous ornaments perfectly placed, this just won’t do. Thirdly, and maybe even more interesting (am I boring you yet?), January 13th in Sweden is also known as St. Knut’s Day or Hilarymas, which is the traditional day to discard the Christmas tree and end the season’s festivities.

Yes, my friends, you heard it here…..The 13th of January! Inconceivable in my circle back home as we’re usually hanging on by needles (no pun intended) just to keep the thing standing & alive until New Years.

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It’s a pleasant and unusual feeling, but I don’t have that dread of Monday mornings anymore since I packed up my office and finished my stint in Corporate America.

Stint, well, really more like a third of my life. That’s spooky when you think of it in those terms. Released from the plague of hatred, Mondays just seem like any other day to me now. Must be part of the joy of moving abroad and ditching the briefcase.

It’s been 6 entertaining and active months acclimating to Sweden.

Lots of ups and a few downs – not as many as I expected after reading blogs from expats & websites freaking me out about how hard the move would be and how homesick I would become. Yes, indeed I am and have been homesick at times but nothing debilitating or paralyzing mostly just missing my friends and family. I really am relishing in my new surroundings…..

Oh, the language. That pesky little thing.

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A few weeks back we hosted a little fall soirée weekend for our friends and family. We were particularly floored and extremely flattered our buddies from Amsterdam drove all the way to be here with us. The weather was crisp but not too cold with the sun streaming down on the course – perfect for golfing.

Along with Fattie’s help, I made a large Italian feast Saturday night for 40 peeps…..

This pasta disappeared fast.

Penne with Sausage, Artichokes, and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Recipe from Giada’s Family Dinners, by Giada De Laurentiis

You’ll need:

  • 3/4 cup drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, sliced, 2 tablespoons of oil reserved
  • 1 pound Italian hot sausages, casings removed
  • 2 (8-ounce) packages frozen artichoke hearts
  • 2 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 3/4 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 16 ounces penne pasta
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan, plus additional for garnish
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • 8 ounces water-packed fresh mozzarella, drained and cubed, optional
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preparation

Heat the oil reserved from the tomatoes in a large, heavy frying pan over a medium high flame. Add the sausage and cook until brown, breaking up the meat into bite-size pieces with a fork, about 8 minutes. Transfer the sausage to a bowl. Add the artichokes and garlic to the same skillet, and saute over medium heat until the garlic is tender, about 2 minutes. Add the broth , wine, and sun-dried tomatoes. Boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sauce reduces slightly, about 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the penne and cook, stirring often to prevent the pasta from sticking together, until tender but still firm to the bite, about 10 minutes. Drain the pasta (do not rinse).

Add the pasta, sausage, and 1/2 cup of the Parmesan cheese, the basil, and the parsley to the artichoke mixture. Toss until the sauce is almost absorbed by the pasta. Stir in the mozzarella, if using. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve, passing additional Parmesan cheese alongside.

My Adaptation

  • Replace Italian sausage with spicy chorizo, sliced diagonally and browned on both sides
  • Omit artichokes
  • Add an additional 1/2 cup Parmesan
  • Add 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Add asparagus, sliced in 2 inch pieces

The small changes I made were due to the fact that it was a bit challenging to find two of the ingredients readily available here in Sweden. I know, are you kidding me right now? It proved hard to find frozen artichokes, and since canned/jarred artichokes lose their shape when cooked too long, I omitted them altogether. It’s a rare sight to see ‘Italian sausage’ in the grocery store, so I substituted with chorizo sausage.

At just about the final point when you toss all ingredients together, add the heavy cream, the additional Parmesan, and the asparagus. Heat through for 2 minutes while cheese melts, asparagus are warmed, and cream is incorporated. *All other steps are the same*

Get your forks ready.

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