A Boy And His Statues

IMG_1577(Helsingborg, Sweden 2012)

While going through the last handful of years of pictures on my computer I noticed something curious. Over all those years and trips, Phong has interacted with more than ten statues/sculptures and I have photographed him.

IMG_3933(Helsingborg, Sweden 2011)

moose(Lycksele Zoo, Sweden 2009)

IMG_1550(Garden in Malmö 2012)


IMG_1537(Turns out Phong likes kissing)

IMG_0512(Trying to move the turtle in Umeå 2010)

z3(Riding a lion at the San Fransisco Zoo back in 2009)

z2(The lions won)

IMG_1480(Becoming a seal in San Fransisco 2009)

castle(Royal Castle in Stockholm 2014)

As you might imagine, life with Phong is pretty fun.

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A what? Biskvi!


I first encountered the biskvi on my very first trip to Sweden. It is a stapel of swedish pastries but, I feel, often goes unnoticed next to the prettier, brighter and larger treats in the glass cases of the cafes. I originally mistook this little guy for a cookie. It is not a cookie. It has the sugar intensity of a whole cake crammed into cookie size.

biskvi2(Strawberry biskvi)

The classic biskvi is a cookie bottom (usually crunchy outside and soft inside) with a mound of butter cream coated in chocolate. It is intense but, in my opinion, not all that great.

After my first couple biskvis I was pretty much done with them. That all changed when I saw a white biskvi with purple on top in the pastry case at Cafe Kakmonstret in Umeå. Unfortunately, every time I get my hands on the violet biskvi at Kakmonstret, I eat it so quickly that I never get a picture. -_-

And so began the dawn of flavored biskvis!

biskvi4(Daim candy biskvi and a pear biskvi)

biskvi3(Lemon biskvi)

I wouldn’t mind if biskvi became the new sugar fad. If you’re in Sweden you should give them a try! I, obviously, suggest flavored biskvi over original.

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Things that happened when I got my own place~

Things that happened when I got my own* place~

*meaning without family or roommates or any shared common areas but still with Phong. What can I say, I didn’t exactly move to Sweden to NOT live with him.

1) Became obsessed with the whereabouts of my keys.

2) I immediately realized that we own nothing useful. I still don’t have a garlic press though I did finally get an egg slicer. We own one bowl, otherwise we use large mugs. And for at least half a year we only had two sets of silverware and chopsticks. Phong was more than a little bummed when I brought home a full set.

3) I started drinking from the carton. Juice, milk, doesn’t matter. I stand in the glow of my fridge and drink from the carton because the only beverage I need to drink in quantities large enough to warrant a glass is water. The exception to this is, of course, tea. I have too many teacups not to use them AND I have not yet thought up a reasonable way to make and drink tea from a kettle. Oh, and the occasion milk in a teacup for dunking cookies. Yes. I am an adult who on occasion needs to dunk a cookie.

4) During a blackout I discovered that I have never had to figure out what to do in a blackout. Sure. I owned matches and candles. But where were they? And don’t I have a little flashlight somewhere? Was I supposed to call someone? Don’t these things usually just fix themselves? After calling the landlord we opened a window, managed not to die from natural light, made some sandwiches and played boardgames. Turns out, adulthood is not so difficult after all.

5) Developed feuds with my neighbors. Yes, alright, so these feuds exist entirely in my head but somehow I’m certain that the nosy lady and the guy that leaves cigarette butts everywhere know they’re on my list.

6) For the first time in my life, I’m person that has to worry about whether or not we closed all the windows before leaving town. Gotta say, it’s not a great feeling BUT coming home and finding that you haven’t been robbed or invaded by rats is a strangely satisfying one.


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How to make a smörgåstårta!


Turns out, smörgåstårtas are not so hard to make! I know, I know, from the pictures online you’d think it would be, but not so much. You don’t even have to bake anything!

We tried a few different things and it all turned out tasty and pretty easy.


That’s right, you just use loaf bread. You can use large unsliced loaves and cut them into thicker wedges if you want. You can also make them heart shaped or round and keep stacking them together long ways as well if you want a rectangle or a larger square cake. We did ours as “personal sized” so we could each try different things and decorate them. (Spoiler. Mine came out soooo much prettier.)

We cut the crust off because that was how all of the instructions I read did it, but I might not bother next time. It all gets coated in the end anyway.

We used a couple of fillings. One was egg salad. The other was cottage cheese with creme fraiche and apple shavings. It was pretty good. We did ours vegetarian but you can make the fillings however you like. Tuna salad. Chicken salad. Get experimental!


Ours were three breads high and then we coated the whole thing in a mixture of mayo, heavy cream (whipped together to be thick), chopped onions and chives. This is one of those things you make to taste. Mix and try and mix some more until you love it!




I put cucumber slices (sliced with a cheese slicer) on the sides of mine and then cheddar, tomato wedges and brie on top!

Phong’s was topped in ground up doritos, tomato wedges and brie.


Another smörgåstårta you could try out would be the mini.


Phong made this one for me as a birthday surprise. He toasted two pieces of bread and then used a cup to cut out circles. The creamy mix is the same as above that we coated the sandwich cakes in but this time he used it as filling too, and then covered it in ground up doritos (he knows me so well!). It was amazing!


Really amazing. We tore up the leftover bread into another bowl and then poured on the leftover sauce and dorito crumbs because we couldn’t get enough.

As you can see, once you break down how one of these is made, you can pretty much do anything with it. Now, if only it was healthy…


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Riding Trains in Sweden


I’ve taken the trains up and down Sweden, from Skåne to Umeå and Umeå to Kiruna and a number of stops in between. Usually they’re pretty great but every so often there’s a mishap with delays, power outages (which can get pretty chilly in the winter) or that time we had to stop for reindeer on the tracks.


Not all trains are created equal. Above is a picture of one of my all time favorites! It was a Norrtåg going from Umeå to Boden. No assigned seats but super new, tall backed chairs, space for luggage and a little tv that kept you updated on news and the time. This one had such a great vibe that I actually wrote the train number down somewhere in hopes of taking it again.

It is only in second place because of an SJ train we took from Stockholm to Umeå last summer. That one was not only a new train but it zipped along the rails, keeping us informed on the time, the upcoming stops and the speed at which we were traveling above each doorway. AND on that train I had booked us in first class. It’s not always an option but when it is I take it. It usually doesn’t cost much more but is so worth it! A lady came by with a trolley to offer coffee and tea and there was a kitchenette with fruits and tiny brownies to take. I am, admittedly, a sucker for free things- especially when those free things are sugary.


Things to keep in mind.

Seats with tables. These are the ones where a row faces another row of passengers with a table in the middle. Unless you enjoy making conversation with strangers, other people’s legs in your space, or are traveling with a group large enough to book all (normally four but sometimes six) seats, I would avoid these. These are usually where we get stuck when we book late during a busy season.

Food. Bring your own! Why? Because you can! You can bring whatever food you want on a train. Phong and I usually make a date out of our train travels. We bring dinner and snacks, not to mention cards and sometimes the little laptop with headphones to watch movies. Many trains do have a “dining car” but in my experience they have not been impressive. The food is pretty much muffins and microwave dinners. And, most importantly, depending on when you’re traveling and where that car might be closed. So at the very least, always have a bottle of water and something to munch on in your bag.

If your seat is terrible, or the person next to you is. Find a new one! You could check out the dining car and take a seat in there if you want or  you could just hop into an open seat nearby. The only reason you have to sit in your assigned seat is if all of the other ones are filled. Of course, if someone arrives who has a ticket for the seat you’re now in, you should move. Just move. Don’t give me that pouty “but I’m sitting here” face because I’ll still make you move if that’s my seat and you would do the same to me if our roles were reversed.



Most important tip? Travel with a friend because they do hilarious things like this and, if you’re two, you probably don’t have to sit by a stranger. Well, no stranger than you’re used to.



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