My mom and stepdad visited us in Sweden for Christmas and New Years and I tried to take them on some truly Swedish adventures. One of those adventures was a Northern Lights wandering out in the arctic wilds near Kiruna.
I had to ask Linn (@booksnknitting) how to take pictures of northern lights and she talked me through setting up my camera with screenshots to help.
We went out with Britt from Guide in North and it was amazing! She met up with us and provided a bunch of winter clothes. After we suited up, we drove out of the city and into the dark. Already there were some waves of northern lights in the sky. And then we got into the sleighs behind scooters and went out onto a frozen river, farther out into the country.
The lights were amazing but I was even more blown away but just how many stars we could see. Britt even pointed out mars, winking red at us.
We saw a few moose, who stopped to stare back at us for a while. I did not get a picture of them. I happen to be weirded out by moose–they absolutely give me the heebie jeebies BUT my mom and Papa Pat got a kick out it.
Just when we were freezing our toes off, the tour continued up to a little cabin where we got to warm up by the fire, eat some food, drink some tea, and even have a bit of cake.
The lights were incredible, moving from one side of the sky overhead and to the other. It seemed like as soon as you marveled in one direction someone was pointing out the lights in another.
I don’t think Phong and I would ever have done anything like this if we weren’t entertaining guests.
If you find yourself in Kiruna and have any interest in going out to see the lights or look at moose or go fishing, I can’t recommend Guide in North enough. Britt and her husband were absolutely amazing and we had an evening we’ll never forget.
What happened in 2018?
I didn’t do all of my resolutions for last year, and it wasn’t all amazing all the time, but here are the highlights!
- I became lactose intolerant. It happened all of a sudden. It was awful. I miss eating cheese without having to take a pill first BUT for the first time in my life I don’t have the acne face of a fourteen year old. It turns out, cheese was my enemy all along.
- I published my first ever horror novel, Infernal, with Grinning Skull Press! I’m so excited to have it out in the world.
- I discovered audio-books. When I was younger I couldn’t listen to books because I got distracted and stopped paying attention. I went on with life believing that I couldn’t listen to audio-books. I WAS WRONG! I spend so much time outside walking or at the gym and this is perfect! I love it. I can finally multitask reading.
- I wrote another horror and outlined a few more!
- I discovered Stephen King. I know, I’m behind. I tried reading Stephen King as a kid and totally hated it. I was reading fantasy almost exclusively back then and doing it for escapism. Stephen King’s work was just too close to reality for my younger self and I didn’t get it or appreciate it. I went on from there with the continued assumption that Mr. King and I did not jive. The truth is, I just wasn’t ready. I wasn’t at the point in my life where I would appreciate his books. But I am now and OH MY GOSH there are so many to read! So far I’ve consumed: Carrie, Cujo, In the Tall Grass, A Good Marriage, The Outsider, Joyland, and The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon. <3
- World Weaver Press published the second book of my Crowns & Ash series, Detox in Letters! And @writendesk did live tweeting while reading it and it was one of the coolest, most thrilling, events of my life!
- I visited my family in California for my mom’s wedding party, survived the aggressive heat, and ate matcha soft-serve in a fish shaped cone in San Francisco!
- I wrote a rough ROUGH first draft of book 4 of the Crowns & Ash series and sent the 3rd off to my amazing editor, Laura Harvey!
We don’t eat at fast food chains often but Phong had a craving for Sibylla fries and I figured I might as well snap some pictures! This is a classic burger chain here akin to Burger King or McDonalds.
Notice on the menu that they do have meatballs. They also serve kebab meat with sauces and chilies. They have all the usual suspects of a burger chain, of course. Onion rings. Fries. Burgers. Double burgers. Chicken burgers. And the always classic kid box.
There’s even a plate of sausage and mashed potatoes.
Of course, as you might have noticed already, Phong and I are vegetarian so we’re limited to the green meal. As far as vegetarian food has come, the veggie patty at fast food places is still pretty unamazing. The fries were great though!
(Vegetarian burgers with fries and coleslaw. It was a bean patty and eggplant. It was so big that I had to open mine up and eat it one side at a time with coleslaw on top.)
We decided to go out to dinner on Thursday and wanted to try one of the restaurants in Kiruna we haven’t been to. SPiS is pretty new and we’d heard about it but not been. It was amazing! We went for dinner but they also serve lunch earlier in the day. They have a deli with meats and cheeses and bread as well as some other foodie goodies.
Bread while we wait. It was great! I would have loved this place if only for the bread. The darker one had fruit in it and the lighter one was some sort of sourdough.
I ordered the garlic bread (more bread, I know) with veggies for a starter. Really yummy.
Phong had the shiitake soup and this was pretty interesting because it was made with shiitake mushrooms grown in Kiruna. There’s a lady here who grows shiitakes underground and sells them to local restaurants.
It took a while and a bit of teamwork, but we did it! This meal was so good that we didn’t even get dessert. We will definitely be visiting SPiS again and I would recommend that you try it too if you ever find yourself in Kiruna.
The bun is traditionally a cardamom yeast bun. You carve out the insides and then blend the crumbs with almond paste and cream, filling the hole and then topping it off with whipped cream and then the little cap before dusting it in powdered sugar.
Admittedly, they are not as beautiful when I make them myself, but they still taste good! I like to add strawberry jam to mine. The bakeries here sell them in February. They even have a semla day!
This year someone thought to do a twist on the original and created the semla wrap. It was pretty great. A lot lighter than the classic bun. I’m not sure how common they were across Sweden this season, but we had them in Kiruna!
So, if you ever find yourself in Scandinavia in February, try a semla!