The holidays are here and there is no better time to introduce a variety of fragrances and textures into our home. Aromatherapy is a wonderful and effective resource for lifting one’s SAD and reducing stress. Decorating with natural elements will not only make your home smell delightful but also adds a touch of Scandinavian design as well.
Pine, moss, saffron, mulled wine, burning candles, and a bounty of flowers are the aromas we associate with the month of Advent, but many of these ideas can be continued into the winter months serving as a source of enjoyment until spring greets us in April.Read More»
When living in Connecticut, my sons and I had a place in our backyard that we called “The Oasis”. It was a lovely little area nestled in a back corner of our yard among the apple trees and blooming perennials. There was a red bud tree, raspberries, daffodils, iris, paper whites, and gladiolas. An old stone wall ran along the side of the oasis and that was where the chipmunks lived and played. We had a glass top table and some chairs for lounging.
When the weather was seasonable, I would take my morning coffee and stay in my oasis until well after dark. It was here where I did nearly all my work and writing during the summer. When it became hard to find our way across the yard at night, we put solar lighting on the pathway.
In the oasis, I could sit and watch the rhythm of the day. There were birds of all types. Yellow, red, blue, orange. I watched them as they grew active at certain times of the day, and later I would notice when they returned to their nests and the sky and trees became quiet. There were bunnies, deer, foxes and butterflies. I have many wonderful memories of the oasis with family and friends. I miss it dearly.
Now as a city girl, my world has become concrete and cobblestoned. The birds I see most frequently are magpies and seagulls. But … we have a balcony. Balcony culture in Göteborg is resplendent. And, it is on our balcony that my fella and I are creating an oasis of our own.
As gifts to me, he has brought me lemon trees, olive trees, lavender, and begonias. There is a rapidly growing coffee plant, a jade tree, two or three chili plants, a tomato plant, and some aloe vera. We add more plants every week. Some we started from seed. It’s getting awful crowded and very green out there these days.
While I don’t sit in our new oasis from morning until night, I do enjoy a good amount of time out there. I am always accompanied by our two cats who love nothing more than to lie about napping in the sunshine. The long days of summer mean we don’t need any additional lighting, but my guy aligned three little solar lights along the rail of the balcony. It’s nice at about 1am when the sun is down … Those little lights create shadows and highlight darkened green leaves.
My first two summers in Sweden, I had a great deal of difficulty caring for foliage. Every gorgeous plant which the man bought for me I killed within weeks. This horticultural failure caused me much distress and I wrote about that experience in an essay called “Death to my Plants”. There was just something about the Swedish horticultural process that I wasn’t understanding. At the time, I wrote that maybe when I was able to create a lush green oasis in Sweden, it might just be a sign that I had finally made Gothenburg my home.
I am happy to share with you some photos of our greenery.
Writer/photographer Lisa Mikulski. Available for print or online publications and business in the Nordic region, Europe, and the U.S. Editorial, features, marketing copy, and public relations. Contact me here or at lisa @ 2sweden4love.com
My Swedish Valentine. Tonight, my man and I will be celebrating Valentine’s Day or Alla Hjärtans Dag. We are a multicultural couple; him a Finn born in Sweden, and me born and raised in the U.S. We enjoy embracing the celebration of each others holidays. This makes for a lot of celebrating, but that is just fine by us.
There are already quite a number of holidays celebrated in Sweden, so you wouldn’t think they would need to adopt another one. But that is just what they did. Much like the adoption of Halloween here in Sweden, Valentine’s Day is a relatively new holiday, albeit not an official one.
Alla hjärtans dag began here sometime during the 1960s by florists hoping to promote sales, but it wasn’t until the 80s when the holiday began to be popular. The notion of florists hoping to increase sales is surprising to me because I see flower vendors and floral boutiques on every street corner in Gothenburg. Ladies and gentlemen, often carry bouquets to and from the city and it doesn’t seem to matter if a holiday is involved or not. The purchase of flowers appears to be a beloved cultural past-time in Göteborg. I fully support this!
There are those among us who reject Valentine’s Day believing that is it over commercialized and simply another excuse for holiday spending. Commercialization of the holiday is quite true in the U.S., in fact, you just can’t avoid it there. But here in Sweden the holiday takes on a sweeter and more romantic feel. A quiet evening spent together, flowers, a bit of champagne, or maybe even an evening out for dinner. We are not hit over the head with the holiday … Just a few reminders in store front windows and the occasional newspaper advertisement. But make no mistake, it is a popular holiday indeed.
Of course, every day should be a day of appreciation for those we love. I’m not here to argue the ethics of Valentine’s Day. For me, I adore it. I also appreciate the awareness which the holiday brings to those who might sometimes forget to let their loved ones know how much they are appreciated. But for today, without analysis or complaint, let’s just celebrate Love.
Happy Valentine’s Day Everyone! – Glad alla hjärtans dag allihopa!
And a special shout out to my beloved, Jag älskar dig.