December 24, 2009

Wonderful Time.

I would like to wish all of you reading this a joyful Christmas celebration, spend in the company of your families, loved ones and friends.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank you ALL for your lovely visits and comments here this past year - your kind words have made these twelve months special in more ways than one.

I am taking a Holiday break and will return shortly after New Year.

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL OF YOU

xoxo

Zuzana

December 23, 2009

The Day Before...

Thoday is somehow the best day of the Holidays. In Scandinavia and some other European countries, we celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve, on the 24th of December. Therefore the day before is a very magical day.

It is called "The Little Christmas Eve" and is often used to celebrate Christmas by families that spend the 24th somewhere else.
As a child, I recall the day before to be filled with uncanny excitement and great happiness.

My home is today receiving the last touches before the big day, as is the case in many other homes around. Everything seems to be ready; the house is decorated, the presents are wrapped or send and the scents filling the air are very traditional. I will spend tomorrow with very good friends of mine, a tradition I have carried out for many years by now.




I guess I was not all that bad this year either as the postman, all dressed in red, brought me packages with a big smile on his face the other day. As I gaze at the neat handwriting, that I so well recognize, I feel extremely blessed, lucky and very loved. Even though I will be missing my loved ones this Christmas, I am with them in my heart and soul.

Everything in my immediate surroundings is covered by snow. We received even more of it in yesterdays storm and the fluffy blanket is adding to the magic in an unusual way. I could not resist documenting the heavy snow fall in the short clip below, as it gives us our first White Christmas in many years.

Slowly the true Christmas spirit settles across my house and home, bringing back memories of times gone and stirring up hopes of wonderful times ahead.

video

December 22, 2009

Christmas City Illumination.

Cities become fairytale like during the Holiday season. Particularly after the onset of darkness, which happens in the early afternoon in Scandinavia.

I love to take a walk in the streets just a few days prior to Christmas Eve. There is an atmosphere of joy all around. Despite the certain feel of the holiday rush, as some still feel overwhelmed by the last gift purchase, when I watch the smiling faces around me, I sense happiness.

The lights lining the streets and decorating the stores take my breath away ever year. Intricate decorations, unusual ornaments line the sidewalks and the walkways, making the evening bright and tranquil. This year an extra Holiday feel is added by the white frosty blanket that covers the streets.

When it comes to the magic of the bustling metropolis, it is never more appealing or enchanting than during winter, as it becomes decorated by the glittering snow and illuminated by Christmas lights.

December 21, 2009

The Longest Night.

The celebration of the winter solstice is a celebration of the sun. Sun equals life and its absence in winter is so very obvious in my part of the world.

The tradition of the solstice observance and the worship of the sun stretches back millennia in time. This is attested by physical remains in the layouts of late Neolithic and Bronze Age archaeological sites such as Stonehenge in Britain and New Grange in Ireland. The primary axes of both of these monuments seem to have been carefully aligned on a sight-line pointing to the winter solstice sunrise (New Grange) and the winter solstice sunset (Stonehenge).

The sun travels in an astounding yearly journey across the Nordic sky as it creates a difference of almost eleven hours in daylight between our June and December. However, throughout the seasons, it is at all times a source of awe and beauty. In spring and autumn, it creates magical sunsets and paints the evening sky in every shade of orange, red and purple. It gives rise to endless days in the summer, never truly setting, during the magical white nights, as it slowly moves into a late night sunrise. And then it becomes absent in the winter, when our daylight is a twilight at the best and we can barely glimpse the golden disc in the absolute south, if the winter day is clear.

Therefore today is a very important day to us living in Scandinavia. The longest night is upon us, thus signifying the return of the sun.



December 20, 2009

Winter Tree.

Today is the fourth Sunday in Advent, which means Christmas is imminent. As I light the fourth candle in my advent candle holder, I remember my family and the holidays of my past.

In my childhood, last week before Christmas was so very special. It was the time when all the scents and decorations became so much more distinct. The atmosphere of happiness and joy so very obvious, the excitement and expectations so strong.

It is a long time ago that my family was all gathered under one roof for Christmas Eve. And it is even longer, perhaps decades by now, when we all lived in the same city. Today we are spread all across Europe and at times it fills me with certain melancholy when I ponder this fact.
However, in spirits we are always together, as we all carry on with the same traditions.

This week the snow has given our landscape a true holiday feel. It has been a while since we had any December snow. There is still an uncertainty in the forecasts, whether the snow will last through the 24th. In fact the suspense grows by each day.

Interestingly, the heavy snow blanket indeed finalized the series of photographs I took in August through November, as a part of my progressive photography. These documented the changes in the foliage of a beautiful Birch tree, which grows just outside my kitchen windows. The winter picture I took this past week completes its three seasons.
In a few months, when the light slowly returns, and with it the warmth of the air, I will return to document its awakening in the spring.

(Please click to enlarge.)

December 19, 2009

Enchanted Winter.

It has been the most beautiful winter week I can ever recall from my years in Denmark. Each morning the landscape outside my windows looked as if taken from a page of a fairytale book.

The temperatures have been below freezing and almost ever day we received fresh snow. Today is a stunning sunny day, bitterly cold but vind-still. The sun is now on its lowest position in the sky, barely reaching above the horizon. I can just about see it out of my windows, as it casts its golden glow across the packed snow, sending us into an unusual daylight.
The day lasts only a few hours, but it's light lifts my spirits in an uncommon way, as it brings back memories of my childhood. The time of cold and clear winters, spend in the mountains, where the air was fresh and the snow ever so present.

This is the winter weather that I love. The enchanted winter that defines this cold season and makes it ever so appealing.

December 18, 2009

Flashback Friday (Christmas Edition): "Driving Home For Christmas".

Let me finish this working week with yet another post about that enchanted precipitation we call snow.

On the 23d of December 2001 I was driving home for Christmas, just like the title of this lovely Christmas song below states. The ride was going to take me from Jutland in Denmark to southern Sweden, where my parents lived at that time. All by highway, passing two super bridges, the trip should have lasted about three hours tops. That was the plan at least.

I have not driven this route before - in fact this was my first trip driving alone. I packed everything the night before, which was a grey, foggy and drizzly winter evening, so very common in our part of the world. When I woke up early next morning, imagine my surprise as I looked out of the windows; white landscape and heavy snow fall met my gaze. It was magical and simply unbelievable.

I was so caught up in the spirit of Christmas that I refused to cancel (or postpone) my trip and decided to drive into this storm. I had no equipment and no winter tires on my little Toyota. To this day I can feel the pain in my muscles from the way I tensed my body during the whole drive. Barely seeing the highway at times, the trip took seven hours without any rest or stop. Sometimes I did not know if I was going to make it. I saw luxury cars and large SUVs all around me in ditches or barely moving. But my spirits were lifted when I realized what my car was capable off. I felt like the king of the road, as my FANTASTIC Toyota with its narrow wheels cut through the snow like a knife through butter - while other luxury makes would glide on their wide tyres unable to continue. I love that little car.

I have no idea how I made it, but I did. This was the last Christmas to date that I recall being white. And I recall something else as well; Chris Rea's soothing voice streaming out of the car radio, singing this particular compilation, keeping my spirits up throughout the trip. I had it on repeat in my tape-player and it gave me courage to continue, as I sang along for hours, the sentiments in it making me feel as if I was not alone.

I dedicate this to everyone who is driving home this Holiday Season; have a wonderful and very safe trip.

December 17, 2009

Island In The Air.

More snow has fallen over night during a somewhat severe snowstorm. As I sit here, looking out over the winter landscape, the image below - and foremost the location - seem very exotic and somewhat unreal.

Throughout the course of this year I have been sharing with you pictures from a beautiful book of mine, entitled Astronomy 365 days.
It was given to me as a Christmas gift and considering that the year 2009 was the year of Astronomy, I shared here once in a while some of the beautiful pictures depicted in my book.

The picture for today, the 17th of December, is the last one I am posting from this book in this year. Entitled "Lenticular Cloud Over Hawaii", it is taken by Peter Michaud, although I could swear it was taken by my friend Tom, who is an astronomer and takes stunning pictures of the amazing sky over the island of Hawaii, posting those on his beautiful blog "A Pacific View".

The cloud in the picture here apparently consists of several layers of clouds - to me it looks nothing like a cloud at all. More like a giant object in the sky, an island of steam and vapor. Or a futuristic castle in the air, in constant state of change and movement. Never the same, just like the tides of time...

Note: Just to clear up a misunderstanding; this is NOT my last post in this year.:)

December 16, 2009

Snow!

I guess the weather forecasts were right. This morning when I woke up and looked out of the windows, what greeted my gaze was a snow covered landscape. The first heavy blanket of the season, actually of this year, as both January and February produced very little snow, if any. The temperatures are suppose to stay below freezing for many days to come, therefore perhaps the cover will last.
Had this happened just one week later, we would have experienced a White Christmas this year, the first one in a long time.

I am sure I am not the only one who recalls that the weather was different when we were children. There was snow for Christmas. Even in Southern Sweden, those thirty years ago, my first Scandinavian Christmases were white.
Today this is more an exception than a rule. The Gulf Stream keeps the southern Scandinavian weather temperate and December is weather-wise grey, foggy and drizzly.

But, every fifteen years or so, exception defines the rule. And we are about to - perhaps - experience this exception. It is thirteen years ago that snow covered at least 90% of Denmark, the condition which defines our country covering white Christmas. There have been a few local white Christmases in our immediate past, as on average a local white Christmas occurs every six years.

There are predictions and forecast all over the net, such as the Snow Barometer, on one of the Danish news sites. It is set to 50% right now, giving us some hope that finally, this year our Christmas might perhaps be white.

December 15, 2009

The "Noughties".

The first decade of the century is about to end. That notion is somewhat nostalgic to me. Perhaps as I am so aware of time and how fleeting it truly is, or maybe because I dislike when something reaches its end. No matter how good or bad it is.

The finale of this decade is somewhat poignant to me due to many reasons. One of them is that these are the fastest passing ten years of my life. I do not recall any other decade moving with such a a speed forward. Perhaps this is linked to the relativity of time, which makes each passing year feels shorter, as it encompasses a shorter span in our life.

It truly seems as it was only yesterday I celebrated the turn of the century with my parents, as we watched the fireworks in the sky and wondered, whether the whole city will turn black due to the scare of Y2K. But, nothing sinister took place and we happily toasted the new decade welcome.

These ten years that went in flash still fail to have a proper name. They were nicknamed "The Noughties" (derived from "nought", meaning zero), a term that has achieved common usage throughout the English speaking world, but failed to reach an universal usage. Still, officially called the 2000s, this decade did however see some major events taking place. Some happy, some sad, some terrifying and heart wrenching, some joyful and exciting. But in any case world changing.

Just to mention just a few of the trends, a BBC article sums up the decade using keywords, in all areas of life, including people and events. Here are a few examples, taken from the article:

Decade Of Words:
•Bailout
•Bubble
•Carbon Footprint
•Google
•Ground Zero
•Taliban
•Transparency

Objects Redefined:
•Avatars
•Blackberries
•Bottled water
•Botox
•Breast implants
•Four-wheel drives (SUVs)
•Google
•GPS
•Hybrid car
•iPhone
•Memory stick
•MySpace
•Reality TV
•Reusable shopping bags
•Sexy high-heeled Jimmy Choos
•Smartphones
•Social networking
•Spy cameras
•Wikipedia
•World Trade Center

Fantasy Decade:
•Blogging
•Bollywood
•Doctor Who
•Harry Potter
•Reality TV Shows
•Idol - the phenomenon that ranged from the US to India
•Lord of the Rings (the trilogy)
•Slumdog Millionaire
•Social media (Facebook, texting, Twitter)
•Susan Boyle

For full text, please visit this site.
There are many other sites online listing key events of the decade all across the net. I guess everyone has their take on what was and was not important. I have my own personal events that define not just these last ten years, but they also define me as person. I am hoping that the next decade ahead of me holds just as much excitement.

December 14, 2009

Fantasy In Ice.

I am a sun worshiper and a sun lover. During the course of the year, as soon as the sun rays are warming up my surroundings, you can count on finding me outside, absorbing their vital energy. In this respect, I live in the wrong climate for sure.

Do not misunderstand me though, I love the changes that each season brings. But I would like to have real seasons, not an eternal autumn, as it at times can feel in southern Scandinavia. Our weather pattern offers very little heat and sun in the summer and rarely any snow to speak off in the winter. I do love snow though, particularly around Christmas. I was born under the foot of the Tatra mountains and I learned to ski at a very early age. There is nothing more magnificent than a clear winter day, when the landscape is covered by a heavy snow blanket, drenched in the golden shine of the sun.

In contrast to southern Scandinavia, northern Scandinavia however has a completely different climate. There indeed is snow in winter. Lots and lots of it, tons! So much indeed that it can be used each year to built an entire hotel. Well, after it has been sprayed with water and turned into ice. This is the very famous Ice Hotel, which is rebuilt each year in the north of Sweden.

This incredible engineering in ice celebrates its 20th anniversary and is an astounding project from start to finish. Each year a new, different hotel is built, and each year it is unlike any other. The building starts in mid November when skillful artist, builders, engineers and designers from all over the world gather in s small town near the arctic circle and lay down the foundation for the building blocks, that are later transported onto the site of the hotel.

The building proceeds in several phases and is in a way an ongoing process. As soon as one section is completed, it opens to visitors and overnight guests, while the other sections are still under construction. The hotel expands and grows until December 30th when it is finished, signifying the onset of it's main season.

Everything within its wall is made of ice. Anything from hallways and furniture to glasses in the bar. There are even fireplaces inside - do not ask me how this works. Nor can I clearly comprehend how it feels to live in a building made entirely of ice.
Once completed, the Ice Hotel stands so in its sparkling crystal clean glory, an amazing sight to behold and to experience, satisfying all our senses. For months it will house guests from all over the world, offering luxury and opulence of the unusual kind.

And then one day, the dry winds from the southeast bring warm air from the continent and the building blocks start to melt away. As the returning spring sun gains in strength, the hotel disappears inch by inch until finally only the original building blocks are left standing. Gone are the stunning artworks, the vaulted hallways, the castle like rooms. They have returned to their place of origin, completing this amazing recycling of the fairytale in ice.

December 13, 2009

Rare December Sunset.

A sunny, winter Saturday ended with a beautiful, somewhat hidden sunset. December sunsets are rare, mostly as December sun is rare as well. Just before the darkness settled in over us, a cloud front arrived from the east, giving the afternoon sky a dramatic feel.

As it grew colder, within hours we received the first snow of the season. Well, maybe calling it snow would not be quiet right. Perhaps white precipitation would be more adequate.
However, the night was cold and the light powder stayed through the night, giving the landscape outside my windows a certain Holiday feel this morning.
As we celebrate the third Sunday in Advent and in Sweden the traditional St. Lucia day, we are now only ten days away from Christmas.

December 12, 2009

As We Wait For Snow.

Apparently it is coming. Next week we are suppose to get snow, that is if the meteorologists are right. December snow, although highly sought after, is unusual in southern Scandinavia. Often we only get fog and rain. If November (and so far December) is any indication of the coming winter, it definitely does not include snow. It has been the wettest and the warmest November on record, failing to have temperatures below freezing, which is highly unusual.

Today is sunny and thus I ventured briefly outside. The December daylight is very fragile and the sun barely visible over the horizon, its shine pale and weak. Yet its rays feels revitalizing on my face.

As I walked around, I stumbled upon very unusual sights just outside my door, signifying autumn or spring, rather then winter.
First, a lonely bee found shelter under a leaf of my Mandevilla. It barely moved. I am not sure if its faith is sealed, but I like to believe it will survive winter somehow.
Next, my roses are still in bloom. Their colours vivid, the petals silky smooth and pristine, just like in late spring.
These were not the only flowers that seem a bit confused about the seasons. My spring bulbs are relentlessly pushing upwards. I have covered them with dirt, bark and fallen leaves. However this seems to be posing no hindrance for their persistence. Piercing through the decaying leaves, they are ready for spring.

The most unusual sight though is of the dry bunch of oats that I purchased on the side of the road last December. Yes, about a year ago. They have been hanging on my fence, used as decoration and the seeds helped birds get through the winter. Imagine my astonishment when I see green shoots covering the dry stalks. I have no idea how this is possible, but I stood there staring at this image, a sight that felt unreal or some sort of a trick.

Or, perhaps it is just another indication that nature is beautiful, unusual, stunning and all times - magical.

December 11, 2009

Flashback Friday (Christmas Edition): "When My Heart Finds Cristmas".

Harry Connick Jr. has the most amazing voice. Being the same age, I grew up listening to his smooth vocals and his jazzy rhythms and have always been enticed by his charisma. I have a few of his albums of which "To See You" is my favorite.

I was very pleasantly surprised when he released a Christmas CD in 1993, entitled "When My Heart Finds Christmas". It is a beautiful collection of traditional songs, among others a stunning performance of Ave Maria.

I would like to share with you here the single from this album, with the same name. There is something infinitely warm and familiar about this piece. Every time I listen to it, my heart truly finds Christmas.

December 10, 2009

Ten Years.

Oddly enough I can not remember the exact date on which I boarded the SAS plane that took me back to Europe. Back for good. I know with certainty that it was in December 1999. And as as the number ten keeps coming up in my mind, I believe that today, the 10th Of December 2009, marks the ten years anniversary for my return back to the continent I call home.

If I am right, a decade ago today the plane touched down in Copenhagen airport and I was full of dreams and expectations.
With barely twenty days left to the turn of the century, I was excited about the prospect of a change ahead of me. I was anxious as well, but I expected that the future held a lot of promises and hopes for a new start. My arrival was a culmination of months of preparation. My apartment in North Carolina was filled with boxes in the many weeks prior to my departure. As I frantically got rid of furniture, send my cat Gypsy (on the pictures here) to my sister in Switzerland and reduced significantly my possessions, I was excited as well as mortified.

Today I look back a that time with a blend of a bittersweet nostalgia. None of what I expected happened after my return. In fact, I experienced one of the most difficult periods of my life. Yet today I know, that this was a vital process that was necessary in order for me to get where I am today. Which is a very good place to be, indeed.

Change is the only constant in life. If I have learned anything at all from my past experiences, it is that not all changes that feel good, turn out good in the long run. Similarly, not all changes that feel bad to begin with, turn out bad eventually. But, they are all inevitable and essential. We have to learn to accept the uncertainty that is connected to any changes we make. To alter our lives is at times a leap of faith and takes often a lot of effort and conviction, but it certainly brings our life into motion and makes us aware of new, exciting opportunities. It keeps our present dynamic and moves us relentlessly forward.

I rather take the wrong turns on the road of life, then remain standing still, missing out on the magic just behind the next bend. After all, I am a firm believer in one single fact; "The best is always yet to come..."

December 09, 2009

The Magic Of The Snow Globe.

I do not know why snow globes still appear magical to me. Shaking the large ball in my hand and then watching the sparkling of the white shiny particles, as they settle slowly to the bottom, has that particular, mesmerizing effect on me to this day.

No one really knows where the idea for this amusing item came from, but it appears that it might have originated in France. Also called a waterglobe or snowdome, it was used as a paper weight at first. In 1889, a snow globe containing a model of the newly built Eiffel Tower was produced to commemorate the International Exposition in Paris, which marked the centenary of the French Revolution. This globe quickly became a favourite souvenir for attendees.

I only own one snow globe which I display on my book shelves during the months of December. Each time I unwrap it from the box I feel as if handling a very precious possession.

video

December 08, 2009

A Snowflake.

Nature has always held my fascination. The most beautiful works of art I know are created by natural processes. The colours of plants and animals, the small wonders in rain and snow, the forces of winds and water. The painted skies in sunsets and sunrises, the show of a thunderstorm. The miracle of life. It is all leaving me astounded at all times.

Such as the beauty of snowflakes. A masterpiece not visible to the human eye, however under magnification, a geometry pattern appears so perfect in its creation.

There is nothing more magical then seeing snow falling during the month of December. And I recall fondly running outside as a child, trying to catch a snowflake into my hand. Never able to hold onto it, but watching it melt in my palm into a drop of water, with a sense of utter fascination. The flakes could be small, tiny, ice like, but then again, they could be large and fluffy, light as feather. They could come down slowly and lightly, or heavily and fast, landing on trees and sidewalks, making the landscape white, as if covered in whipped cream.
Even today, the best thing I know is to drive through a falling snow after dark, making me feel like I am moving through the darkness of outer space with light speed, passing galaxies and stars...

So what is a snowflake? Snowflakes are really ice crystals that are formed in the clouds by water vapor. When the atmosphere's temperature dips to below 0 degrees Centigrade (32 degrees Fahrenheit), moisture changes to ice. Their formation depends on a variety of factors including air currents, humidity and temperature and even particles trapped in the water. All this contributes to the fact that no two snowflakes are exactly alike, even though there is no scientific reason that prevents it. This is similar to the human fingerprint.
Snowflakes can be categorized into six main types, plate (flat), column, stars, dendrite (lacy), needle, and capped column. When it is extremely cold the snow is very fine and powdery and snowflakes become quite simple in design, usually needle or rod shaped. When the temperature is near to freezing point (0 degrees Celsius), snowflakes become much larger and a lot more complex in design, for example, a star.
The largest snowflake recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records fell at Fort Keogh, Montana and was 15 inches wide and 8 inches thick.

For more beautiful pictures such as these posted here, of magnified genuine snowflakes, please visit SnowCrystals.com

December 07, 2009

The Scents Of The Holidays.

We all know first hand how scents can trigger our memory, reminding us of moments and places in our past. It only takes a trace of a particular fragrance to appear in the air, to transport us instantly in time and space. I am utterly fascinated by the means in which our memory is tied to our senses and the way it triggers the cognitive process.

There are many scents that are so very significant of the Christmas Holidays. The memories of celebrations in my past contain a plethora of fragrances, linked to perfumes, food, spices, places, people and nature.

The scent from the ten items below is to me so very representative of the Holidays:

Orange Peels.
Even though orange is an exotic fruit, growing in subtropical climate, which should evoke the feeling of summer and sea, the scent of its peel is a significant sign of the Holidays to me. Perhaps this is due to the fact that oranges, tangerines and clementines are most abundant in my part of the world throughout the winter.

Cinnamon.
A spice like cinnamon is today a common ingredient, used in drinks and meals year around. However, to me nothing say Holidays more than its scent. I use it in baking in December and when mixed with ginger and cloves, it is a rare combination that brings me back to the Christmas of my childhood in an instance, if I close my eyes...

Cloves.
Cloves is a spice that I recall fondly from my past. My mother used it extensively in all the Holiday baking and cooking. It was the main ingredient in almost everything that was prepared for Christmas in our home, from drinks to meals. There is a tradition of making decoration using oranges, that are pierced through the skin with cloves. Not only does this look beautiful but the orange and the cloves in combination spread such a delightful scent all over the house; a definite and traditional Christmas fragrance.

Saffron.
Saffron is used in Sweden in baking special roles for the 13th of December. This is the day which is celebrated as St.Lucia in Sweden. One of the most expensive spices on Earth, it is in use very sparsely through out the year, with exception for December.

Ginger.
I have already described how very traditional Gingerbread Cookies are during the Holiday season in Scandinavia. The scent of ginger in combination with other spices mentioned here is very significant during the Holidays.

Vanilla.
Vanilla is of course not only significant of Christmas. However, again, in combination with the above spices, the common scent of vanilla becomes that once a year experience that signifies the onset of the Holiday Season.

Mulled Wine.
Mulled Wine, or "gløgg", as it is called in Denmark, is a vital part of December in Scandinavia. This warm spicy drink has a scent like nothing else served during the rest of the year. It brings family and friends together and there is nothing like coming home after a late afternoon winter walk, to a house that is scented with the spices of Mulled Wine.

Spruce.
Spruce scent equals Christmas. I love the fragrance of the Tree as it is brought inside. It can bring me back decades in time, making the span of the years in my past so very relative...

Burning Sparkler.
In our family, on Christmas Eve, after the dinner, before opening the presents, we would burn sparkles on the tree. I loved watching each and everyone explode with tiny stars, as the lightning ball moved downwards, mesmerizing and enticing me... The burning created that once a year atmosphere of expectation and joy. As soon as the fire went out, the fragrance became so obvious through out the room; the most significant scent of Christmas that I know...

"Kapustnica".
This is our family Christmas soup. A traditional Slovak meal, which my mother would spend a whole day preparing before Christmas Eve. The scent is so very particular, consisting of sour cabbage, sausages, mushrooms and many spices that make up this traditional Christmas dish. No matter where I am, no matter how old I am, this scent will bring me in a nano-second right back to my childhood and the laughter and joy of the holidays in my past...

December 06, 2009

Second Advent Tradition.

The Second Sunday in Advent signifies yet another tradition of mine. The tradition of writing Christmas Cards. My friends and my family live spread all over the world and I still relish in writing and receiving handwritten Christmas cards.

The days of December are very short. It feels as if there is barely and daylight at all. As we are approaching the winter solstice, our days has been shortened by more than ten hours since June. If the skies are cloudy, such as today, there is really no daylight to speak off. We are surrounded by twilight at the best, which beckons us to light candles and the fire in fireplace, staying inside.
And so, when all the chores are done, as soon as the early afternoon turns dark and the long evening settles over my neighbourhood, I sit down by the fire with Batcat at my feet. I pour myself a glass of Hot Spicy Wine and put on my favorite Christmas music. As the wind howls in the chimney, it is easy to feel inspired writing Holiday Wishes to those that I miss the most.

December 05, 2009

My Red Sofa.

Not long ago my friend Stevie wrote an entertaining post listing ten things she really wants, but will most likely never buy. Among these was a new sofa.
I did buy a sofa for myself and additionally, it was a red sofa and so Stevie, this one is for you, as you requested pictures.

My red sofa was purchased by me, almost exactly six years ago, when I moved into my white house on a hill in December 2003. Being the largest place I have ever lived in, I needed furniture to fill out the endless space of several floors. Not keen on using all my savings, I decided to furnish my entire home with the decor available at IKEA. Literally everything in my house has been purchase there, including an old living room furniture set that my parents bought there about 25 years ago, when they moved to Sweden and which I inherited.

So, when it came to deciding on which sofa to get, I was first looking at a sofa of a nondescript colour. Wanting to keep it as neutral as possible, I thought of going in the direction of beige, purchasing a sofa and a chair. I brought good friends - a husband and a wife - with me to the store for help and encouragement. We walked around for a while when the husband pointed at a large red corner sofa on a display and said, "Why don't you get that one?". My first thought was "NO WAY!", but almost instantly I was intrigued. Suddenly the thought was appealing in more ways that one. I love colours endlessly and the fact that the sofa was L shaped would solve the issue with filling out a space and yet getting enough seating room.
And so I bought my red sofa. It was one of the best purchases I ever made. Its colour is so very fitting the holiday season, but it makes the house warm and inviting year around. It is the most comfortable sofa I have ever owned and as seen on the pictures here, it is loved not just be me and my guests, but also Batcat, who loves to lounge on it any chance he gets.