We Made It

After nearly nine hours aboard a Boeing 787-900, we made it safely to Stockholm. The 789 was quite comfortable and I actually managed to get some sleep!  Yay!  If I had to guess, our bartender Laura’s heavy pour at the airport helped this mission.  Nevertheless, it wasn’t enough, so I’m totally exhausted now and its only 10:00 PM in Stockholm and 5:00 pm back home.  Once we got through customs and got our luggage, which was quite quick, we grabbed a snack and drink (coffee please) at 7-11 before hopping on the express train into the sitting.

Much like my initial impressions of Norway, Sweden reminds me a lot of Minnesota.  Speaking of Norway, we flew over Fjord Norway on our approach into Stockholm’s Arlanda airport.  The region looked absolutely beautiful from 40,000 ft with the mountains covered in snow.  As for the train, we arrived at central station in a brisk 20 minutes.  Fortunately, our hotel is mere half of block from the station.

Our hotel is adorable.  We have four bed and a beautiful patio overlooking Stockholm.  It’s the perfect place to store our beverages and stinky shoes.  The view is pretty fabulous as well.  Once we got situated in the hotel room, we got ready to head out and about to find dinner.

We started our exodus looking for a meatball place, but found the maps and google searches aren’t too successful here unless we’re on wi-fi.  We walked for several blocks in the brisk evening air until we happened upon a place called Polpette – combination of Italian and Swedish cuisine.  The restaurant was beautiful inside with friendly waitresses and hostesses.

Our dinner started with drinks, my bro and I enjoyed a lingonberry margarita, while B enjoyed a glass of wine and Jake stuck with water.  We started our dinner with an appetizer order of sourdough cheese bread and fresh caprese.  They were amazing.  Unfortunately, we ate them so fast we didn’t even stop to take a picture.

For the main course, I enjoyed a flank steak on a bed of gratinized mashed potatoes.  Jake had Swedish meatballs, Brandi has pasta Bolognese and Jon had fettucine with steak.  Our main courses were beautiful and delicious. My meal came with the bonus of an asparagus spear wrapped in bacon- yum.  Honestly, the food absolutely hit the spot.  We enjoyed our meal and the hospitality of the staff at Polpette.  If you’re ever in downtown Stockholm, I recommend you pay them a visit.

Post dinner we headed back towards the hotel in hopes of finding pastries, but alas all the cafes were already closed for the night.  Since we couldn’t find pastries, we headed to the Ice Bar in Stockholm.  I’ve been to the Ice Hotel in Quebec City, but this was my first time at a year round ice bar.

We suited up and headed into the ice.  Much like the Ice Hotel in Quebec, the Ice Bar had several elaborate ice carvings.  This bar is done in a Viking theme, which makes for an impressive experience.  It should come as no surprise that we spent tons of time hanging out on the Viking ship and throne while enjoying our drinks.  Our bartender was fantastic and gave us a list of places to try before leaving Stockholm After several rounds of drinks, we headed back to the hotel for a night-cap and to get ready for tomorrow.

If you go:

Our restaurant tonight: PolPette

The Ice Bar: Ice Bar by IceHotel Stockholm

Hotel:  https://www.freyshotels.com/

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Happy Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day to all the wonderful mothers in my life and the blogosphere!  I spent my Mother’s Day relaxing at home with our boys and puppies.  Hubby made me a wonderful breakfast of crepes, an omelette and some bacon.  It was sinfully delicious!  The crepes were spectacular with cloud berry jam, whipped cream and fresh berries.  On the second crepe, I had blueberry jam that we bought in Norway on it and it was delicious.  I’m not quite sure what we’re going to do when we’re finally out of Norwegian cloudberry and blueberry jelly.  I guess we’ll just have to go back and buy more!

We spent Saturday night at the amphitheater in West Palm for the Alan Jackson show.  To be clear, I’ve never been a country music fan.  In fact, I wasn’t originally planning to go with Goalielocks and the Hubby to the concert.  At least, not until I got the guilt trip from Goalielocks, who reminded me that I had no problem going to the Foo Fighters with Jake. I, of course, reminded him that I love the Foo Fighters….  Nonetheless, I accompanied them to the concert last night.

Fortunately, the weather held out.  I purchased seats under the roof of the amphitheater just in case the meteorologists happened to be right.  They weren’t, but the assigned seats were nice.  We had a great view of the show and weren’t fighting the crowds on the lawns.  As for the show itself, both LeeAnn Womack and Alan Jackson didn’t disappoint.  I’ve heard many of the Alan Jackson songs enough to know the words.  Moreover, they bring back fond memories of my mother-in-law, who enjoyed his music.

While I don’t enjoy their music, I would have had to be deaf to not hear how talented they are.   LeeAnn Womack has some lungs!  Surprisingly, that’s not even the Tito’s lemonade talking.  They were legit.  I’m not converting to country, but enjoyed spending the evening with two of my guys.

We faced time my mom and grandma today to wish them a very, happy Mother’s Day.  It would have been nice to be up in Minnesota with all of them.  After a late night last night, we decided not to do to brunch on the water.  This decision was reinforced by the weather outside, which brought us heavy rains all day.  Apparently, there’s a low pressure system of the southwest coast of Florida that may develop into a tropical system.  Oh joy!

It’s time to head off to bed and recharge the batteries before starting another crazy week.  To all the mother’s out there, I hope you had a wonderful day.  To the beautiful mother’s in our lives, who have felt the excruciating pain of losing a child, today we send you our love and strength.  Lastly, for those whose mother’s have passed, today we send love your way.

Life In The Box

It was back to a life in the box for me as we headed to Coral Springs for the Mayor’s two games.  It’s never dull in the sin bin that is for darn sure.  I wasn’t that too busy in the first game, but the second game was different.  The first game we got off to a bit of a slow start and ended up losing 5-3.  Certainly, it would have been nice to win that one as it would have sealed a state tournament berth.

While the Hubby headed back north to take Goalielocks to his practed, I stayed in Springs with my Mayor.  We grabbed a quick bite in between games at McDonald’s for him and Dunkin for me.  I needed to ensure I had my pre-game coffee, so I wouldn’t mess up the mojo.  I had drunk my morning coffee at home instead of the rink per usual, so naturally that’s probably what messed up the morning game.  It’s a good thing us hockey moms aren’t superstitious or anything.

I grabbed my coffee and some oatmeal.  It was my first time trying Dunkin’s oatmeal and I have to say it was pretty darn good.  Fortunately, both McDonald’s and Dunkin are close to the rink, so we had no trouble getting back to the rink in time. As we waited around for the game to start, we were discussing our path to the state tournament. If we had won in the morning, we would have qualified.  Since we lost however, our team’s fate was in the hands of another team.  Needless to say, it is always better to be in control of your own destiny.

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As the zambonis took to the ice, I headed over to my place in the sin bin.  As they finished cleaning the ice, both teams and referees were ready to start the game.  I looked around and there was no score keeper to be seen.  Both referees tried to reach someone unsuccessfully to find a score keeper.  Consequently, yours truly ended up being the scorekeeper.

I have to say, I truly sympathize with the scorekeepers now. There’s a lot going on and the whole thing isn’t setup for a lefty.  The refs said I would start the game and not to worry about the penalties and such, but that wasn’t exactly accurate.  If you didn’t put the penalties up, you had to do the backwards math yourself.  No thank you!  Additionally, ladies there’s a reason men don’t like to read instructions.  Most of the time the instructions are poorly written or leave out key steps – as was the case with adding penalties to the clock.

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Fortunately, I had mostly figured it out (penalties included) by the end of the first period.  I am pretty sure, however, that the score sheets are made for people with 20/20 vision and super small and perfect writing.  Sadly, I fall into neither of those categories, which made filling out the score sheet quite the adventure.  By the third period, we were on run time, which made my life a bit easier.  Meanwhile, the Hubby is texting for updates and getting radio silence.   There was no way I could text and score keep all at once.

We ended up winning the game 9-1, but we lost one of our players in the process.  Late in the first, one of our D-men was checked and flew head first into the boards.  Can I tell you how scary that was?  From where we were sitting in the box, we could tell he was out cold.   Unfortunately, he ended up having to be transported to the hospital with a concussion.  It was certainly a very scary situation.  Thankfully, his mom just updated all of us and let us know that he’s home and will be okay.  Thank goodness!

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Post game, we ended up watching another U-12 A game as it would decide our fate.  Like I said, it is always better to decide your own fate than to leave it in somebody else’s hands.  It was nerve wracking and up to 23.7 seconds left in the 3rd it looked like our season would end early.  Only at 23.6 seconds, the Panthers scored a goal and sealed our fate.  Our squad is going to SAHOF!!!!  I couldn’t be happier for this team.  They work so hard and play so hard for each other that it is fun to watch.  Even on their worst days, they have each others’ backs.  I freaking love these kids and families.

Anyway, we’ve been home for almost 3 hours and my toes are still frozen.  Once that cold gets in your bones, it sure does not want to leave.  I’ll be making myself some nice chamomile tea to try and warm myself up.  Tonight’s song performed by PitBull, JLo and Claudia Leitte is “We Are One.”  The Mayor and I listened to this song as we drove back to the rink and it is the perfect song for him and his team.  Plus the hockey dads will like the samba dancers.

 

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! I hope your Christmas was as wonderful as you had hoped.  Ours started early, but thankfully not too early.  The Mayor woke us up shortly before 8:00, which is a lot later than it used to be. Back in the day, the boys would wake us up well before 7:00 am.  My friends and family know how little I enjoy waking up early, so the super early Christmas wake up calls were tough!

Unquestionably, Christmas is much more meaningful as a parent.  Its not that I don’t like getting gifts; its just that giving them is so much better.  In our house, opening gifts happens like a hurricane as the boys tear open their gifts.  This year their Christmas lists were markedly smaller than previous years.  Although they did include some interesting items like: a teacup pig, a puppy, a tegu, a bearded dragon, and a MacBook.  Unfortunately, there was no teacup pig or puppy under the tree this year.

After they opened their gifts, the Hubby and I got to work preparing for brunch.  He made his famous Cholesterol Bake (totally worth every calorie,) while I finished my caramel rolls and started the bacon.   Additionally, we had to get our drink bar ready.  We had plenty of OJ and champagne/asti for mimosas.  Moreover, this year we added a coffee bar, so my bro brought cold brew coffee and we paired it with Bailey’s and/or Ciroc French Vanilla vodka.  To the uninitiated, the coffee (we used Stok) with Bailey’s and vodka is smooth and absolutely sublime.

While I finished cooking the 85 lbs of bacon and rolls, the boys played show and tell with their menagerie.  They were more than happy to share their animals with our guests.  After showing off Lil’ B (our little beardie,) Goalielocks and the Mayor brought down their two chameleons.  Surprisingly, Goalielocks was able to get the normally shy chameleons to eat in front of company.  Of course it’s a bit of a show when the chameleons eat.

Fortunately, all of the food turned out awesome.  Surprisingly, we didn’t end up in a food coma after eating copious amounts of caramel rolls, cholesterol bake and bacon.  Once brunch was done, the boys headed outside to play football.  Unlike Minnesota, which was -5 this morning, we were balmy in the 70s this morning.  For paintball we were in the low 80s, but without too much humidity.

This year we went to paintball a little later with a 1:00 pm start time.  Unlike years past, the paintball place was completely crowded with groups of uninitiated paint  ballers.  We’ve done this for several years on Christmas not to mention the numerous birthday parties the boys have attended.   Nonetheless, I have zero patients for morons who shoot randomly when not on the field or take their masks off on the field.  Darwin would have been proud!

Straightaway, after getting our guns, we headed to the far fields away from the crowds.  We had the far fields to ourselves for over an hour before a couple of the inexperienced and not so bright groups came on over.  Despite the ineptitude of the people around us, we managed to have a good time.

Our group was pretty small, so we stuck to the smaller fields.  We split up the teams a number of different ways to make interesting throughout the day.   The adults took it to the kids several times, but don’t worry they got us back.  Both the Mayor and Goalielocks have their own guns, which are far more powerful than the rental guns.  Both took me out several times from afar.  I didn’t even have a chance since my gun couldn’t shoot that far.

In one round, Jake, Brandi and I played against my brother and my two younger kids.  My brother came running across the field, thinking there was cover (there wasn’t) and all three of us shot him simultaneously.  Whoops!  Thank goodness my brother is a good sport!

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Between rounds, we Face-timed my parents from Paintball and was able to speak to everyone there, which was awesome.  I definitely miss seeing my family and extended family this time of year.  I have many cherished memories that  I have from holidays spent with my grandparents and extended family.  My hope for my boys is they cherish the traditions we’ve started that put a premium on time spent together having fun.

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Post-paintball we headed home and ordered some friend rice and chicken teriyaki.   Tonight we’re going to watch a movie on NetFlix and relax.  Unfortunately, tomorrow is Tuesday and not a holiday meaning most of us will be back at work.  Can you hear the collective boo?  I’ll leave you tonight with my favorite Christmas song.  This song performed by Mariah Carey is “All I Want For Christmas is You.”

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve is here and almost gone.  Today was hectic and we rushed to finish our last minute shopping and preparations for Christmas day.  I think the boys will be happy with what they’re getting, but we’ll see.  Truthfully, I had hope to spend more money on experiences or even a trip than gifts.  Oh well, there’s always next year.  Its probably a shift that’s easier to make gradually than in one fell swoop.

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In addition to last minute errands, I had (and still have) a lot of baking today.  I made another round of mint cookies today in addition to krumkakes and toffee candies.  Fortunately, all three of the items turned out really good.  As I write this, I’m starting to make the main star of tomorrow’s brunch — the caramel rolls.  Ah yes, no less than 1,000,000 grams of carbs and sugar in these beauties, but they’re completely worth it.   Honestly, all calories on Christmas should be free, I think Santa would totally agree.

Krumkakes are a traditional Norwegian cookie that I was excited to try making this year.  After all, I have both cloud berry and blueberry jam from Norway to pair with the cookie, so now is the perfect time.  In order to bake said cookies, however, I had to order a krumkake iron.  I opted for a new school plug and play model versus the old school iron you heat up over a burner.  I think we can all agree that nothing good would come from me using an old school iron.

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The dough is quite simple to make.  You can use either vanilla or almond extract to flavor the cookie  Today I used vanilla as that is what I had on hand.  Once the dough has been mixed up, you bake one cookie at a time on the iron.  These cookies cook quite quickly albeit individually.  Moreover, once they come of the iron, you need to shape them around the cone to get their famed conical shape.

My first attempt at shaping a krumkake was lackluster, but I had also overcooked the cookie.  After the first couple of cookies, I got the process down pat.  You can definitely bake these cookies by yourself.  However, it would be easier to an assistant help shape the cookies once they come off the iron.

After all the baking, we headed to my brother’s house for some games, movies and appetizers.  Before though I had to make a pit stop at Walgreen’s for some whipped cream and dollar bills.  I had no cash on me and we needed singles, so we could play Left Right Center at Jon’s.  You can only imagine the look the clerk gave me when I asked for my change ($20) is singles, but I digress.

We quickly ate our appetizers once we got to Jon’s, so we could start playing Left Right Center.  Goalielocks didn’t want to spend any money (even though I was funding), so he manned the music tonight.  Per usual, the game was not mild.  Both the Mayor and Jake ended up winning two games, while both Brandi and I won a game.  Throughout the games, the Mayor was full of witty one-liners.

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Once the money dried up, it was time for krumkakes.  I served them with whipped cream and either blueberry or cloud berry jam.  They were absolutely heavenly.  Moreover, I forgotten how much I loved the Norwegian jam.  I have yet to find either cloud berry jam or a good blueberry jam stateside.  When my family goes in January, I hope they bring some more back for us. Hint, hint…..

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Now it’s off to finish wrapping presents and baking caramel rolls.  Tonight’s song performed by Mariah Carey  is “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.”

Christmas in Florida

Christmas in Florida

This year we will celebrate our 13th Christmas in Florida after relocating to the area in 2005.  It seems like just yesterday that we moved South with Jake going into 1st grade and Goalielocks as a toe-headed toddler.  The Mayor was but a twinkle in our eye when we moved South.

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Our first couple of Christmas’ we headed back North to Minny to celebrate with the family.  This only lasted a couple of years because the holiday dinner circuit was exhausting.  It was tough only being in Minny for a couple of weeks because it never felt like we got enough time with everyone.  Inevitable, someone always ended up mad because we hadn’t spent enough time at their house or with their family.  It got old quick.

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While we were stressed, the boys loved the snow and being home with family for Christmas.  At least until Christmas of 2007.  We headed northwards for 2.5 weeks.  The weather when we landed was perfect, but that quickly changed.  In a mere 72 hours, the balmy mid-20 degree weather was gone and the temperature was well below zero. Damn Alberta clipper!  For the remainder of our time in Minny, we were homeward bound.  It was far too cold to take our boys out in the subzero weather.  Consequently, as we prepared to head back to Florida, I informed my parents that we wouldn’t be heading north for Christmas anymore.

Since 2007, we’ve spent Christmas here in Florida.  It’s significantly less stressful for us and more enjoyable.  In 2009, we started sending the boys to Minny for the summer, so they got ample time to spend with our entire family.   We miss seeing our family and the beautiful snow, but the novelty wears off far too quick now.  Plus, we’ve headed Northward for the last 5 years for out of state hockey tournaments.  We’ve had no shortage of winter weather.

Several years ago, we started a tradition of a Christmas brunch with my bro, his wife and friends.  I bake my caramel rolls, while the Hubby makes an amazing cholesterol bake.  Mimosas and presents about and everyone is happy.  In addition, we grew our tradition to include paintball.  Its amazing how much better you feel about all the caramels roll you eat after playing paintball for hours in the heat.  We conclude our Christmas with Chinese food.  Its not the most traditional Christmas, but it’s our Christmas.

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There are a couple of places I would love to celebrate Christmas..  My list of places includes: Norway, Germany (Christmas markets), France with my French family, Hawaii, Iceland and maybe even another Christmas in Minny.  If you could celebrate Christmas anywhere, where would it be?

Tonight’s song is “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlmen” as performed by The Pentatonix.

 

Last Night in Bergen

We had a brilliant lunch post Bergen aquarium near Bryggen with our family before J&B headed to catch the bus for Stavanger.  Tomorrow they’ll be on the hike of their life making their way up to Pulpit Rock.   Our waiter was incredible and bought us a round when the fryer broke and our food took longer than normal.  This was a great gift as beer and cider are extremely expensive in Norway even by South Florida standards.  The food was worth the wait and I enjoyed my fish an chips along with my cider.

 

Post lunch we hit the shops to find some useful souvenirs.  The Mayor found a nice knife he can use for fishing while Goalielocks selected a viking horn that sounds a bit like a kazoo.  The kazoo piece wasn’t intentional, so we’ll be looking for another viking horn for the house.   Jake got a nice Norwegian flag he can hang in his room.

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After two ciders at lunch, my favorite local coffee shop Dromedor was calling my name.   Not too far geographically from the tourist hub, but miles away in terms of its customer base.  This is a great local spot with quality coffee and pastries.   I have quite enjoyed their lattes these past couple of days in Bergen.

For dinner our kids wanted frozen pizzas, which was a complete godsend.  Food is extremely expensive in Norway and this was a perfectly economical way to feed the kids.        Post Pizza we headed to the wold famous fish market to meet J&M (my older bro and family), my grandma and my parents.

They were finishing up their dinner and afterwards we headed for dessert and shuffleboard.  We ended up at the same restaurant where we ate and drank yesterday as it had several shuffleboard tables where the kids could play and not interrupt all of the diners’ dinners.

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After two rousing shuffleboard tournaments, Priya and Zak and I emerged as champions.   Somehow I managed to figure out how to score a couple of points, which was enough for me to be successful.  The kids had a blast and enjoyed their desserts throughout the tournament.

After shuffleboard, we said adieu to our favorite spot, Bergenhus Bryggeri, and headed out to walk the city.   For the first time, we headed up Kong Oscars Gate where X&P found an awesome and cheap hot dog stand.  The group continued to make friends with dog owners and their dogs.   Norwegians love their dogs and take them everywhere.  Their dogs are meticulously groomed and extremely well behaved.

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As the sun started to descend in the sky, we headed back to our AirBnB to pack for our trip to Stavanger.  We have absolutely loved our time in Bergen and will be returning to this wonderful city hopefully soon.

Cousins

Cousins Experiencing Norway Together

One of the best parts of this trip thus far is the time our boys are getting to spend with their cousins X, P and Kai. Since we live in Florida and X & P live in Minnesota and Kai in Seattle, the kids don’t get to see each other nearly as much as they would like to. This is a trip that they’ll savor because of the good times they shared with their cousins.

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