Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Skåne calling

Each year when Easter rolls around, I'm surprised by how much a 4-day holiday can do to break up a long winter from the start of a struggling spring. This year, spring is still struggling, although I've heard promises of a turnaround from tomorrow(!). One can only hope.

Anyways, a quick glance back at our Easter adventure in the southern Swedish region of Skåne...

Swedes+Easter=feathers everywhere

First of all, let me explain that Easter in Sweden is a little bit like Halloween in the States. Except everyone dresses up as the same thing - an Easter witch. Just imagine the cutest witch you've ever seen knocking on your door: hankerchief tied around the head, freckles and rosy cheeks painted on the face, long skirts with aprons over-top, and a of course a broom in hand for fast get-aways. 

The kids make dozens of little "Happy Easter!" cards to hand out at each household. How sweet is that? In return, they get candy. We had two covens of witches at our door the Thursday before Easter, and sadly, were incredibly unprepared with zero candy - but they just smiled and wished us a Glad Påsk. My heart nearly melted!

Okay, back to our Easter road trip. We headed down to the charming town of Helsingborg on Friday, stopping for lunch in a tiny village called Gränna, home of the infamous Swedish peppermint candy, to break up the 6-hour drive. 

the view from Kärnan - and that's Denmark across the water

Perhaps it was because of the warm, sunny weather, but in the 20 hours we were there, I fell in love with Helsingborg. On the map, it's Sweden's closest point to Denmark in the southwest corner. Between the two countries is a 20-minute ferry ride across the sound of Oresund. With a population of 100,000, it's the perfect size - and so beautiful! 

Our friends J&J showed us the best of Helsingborg on Friday night with a gorgeous, sunset dinner at Sillen & Makrillen (thanks guys!) and drinks at one of the downtown clubs. And on Saturday, NS and I wandered through downtown and climbed to the top of the medieval tower, Kärnan, the highest point in the city.

afternoon tea in the suuuuuuun!

We said goodbye to Helsingborg on Saturday afternoon and headed to Örenäs Slott (castle) for an incredible champagne weekend. Afternoon tea (with champagne); truffles in our room (with champagne); oyster hors d'oeuvres (with champagne); a 7-course dinner; and brunch the next morning - yep, that had champagne, too. 

I've never had so much bubbly - or food - in my life, and in such a beautiful setting. The castle overlooks a grassy ridge over Oresund sound and is surrounded by farmland. It was divine. And a slightly different experience from last time we were there in 2010 ;) Thank you J&M for an amazing wedding gift we will never forget!!

On Easter Sunday, we visited dear friends in the neighboring town of Lund to celebrate baby H's first birthday, and then drove onward to stay with NS' grandmother in Malmö for the night. 

Our trip ended with a stop in Nimis, a place unlike any other I've ever been to. In the summer of 1980, a very eccentric Swedish man named Lars Vilks decided, among other unusual projects, to start building an enormous, castle-like structure out of driftwood - and call it Nimis. He's been nailing away ever since. From my understanding, this castle has actually been declared a country of it's own, proclaimed so by Vilks himself. 

To get to Nimis, we had to drive out to a remote spot along Sweden's west coast. Then hike through a forest, following a series of yellow "N"s painted sporadically along the way. The trail eventually sloped down to the water's edge, and then, all of a sudden became a tunnel of driftwood haphazardly nailed together every which way. The tunnel continues downward - downward - downward - and then starts upward to several shakey towers (which of course we climbed). 

We climbed all over this chaotic structure, and when we'd had enough climbing, we found ourselves "surfing" along the nearly vertical, leaf-covered ground leading down to Nimis (this leaf surfing was not quite intentional, but rather a slightly indirect route out).

Nimis was quite an experience, to say the least, and a very memorable end to our southern escapade through the wild side of Sweden.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

And to quote the ever-entertaining Dave Barry on kale

Since we're talking about kale (see Monday's post), I thought I'd shared Dave Barry's words on the leafy green, since I've ingested so much of it lately...

   Were there any new trends in 2013? Yes, but they were not good. Kale, for example. Suddenly this year restaurants started putting kale into everything, even though it is an unappetizing form of plant life that until recently was used primarily for insulation. Even goats will not eat it. Goats, when presented with kale, are like, “No thanks, we’ll just chew on used seat cushions.”
At this point, I have to agree with the goats. Although hopefully a kale hiatus for the next 3 weeks will bring back some of the allure for me. 

Read more here:

Monday, May 5, 2014

Thank you, Dr. Oz

A lot's happened since I last wrote and I do feel the need to fill you in - but perhaps I'll come back to that another time. Now I'd rather gloat about my latest health feat: Dr. Oz's 3-day Detox Cleanse


Let me begin by saying that I hope I never have to wash a juicer as many times as I have in the last 3 days. Seriously, there are so many small, oddly-shaped pieces of plastic and countless teeny bits of spinach - kale - cucumber - berries - flax seeds - getting stuck in each little crevice and without a dishwasher, it is honestly the most tiring thing about going on a detox. 

That being said, my longest run of raw food only - or should I say juice only - diet is coming to a close this evening at midnight and I've never craved the most mundane things more. A bowl of this cereal with a banana and milk. A slice of this sausage. A bite of this candy which was tempting me from the counter at work all day. It's not even good. But I'm daydreaming about how much of it I'll have tomorrow. And those are just the things I don't care about.

Despite all my cravings for everything, I do feel cleaner, healthier, fresher. I hope these 3 days are a starting point for a long-lasting health kick, as the last couple weeks of gluttony really put me over the edge. 

But now for a new start. Tomorrow my mission is to maintain a somewhat healthy intake without gorging on pounds of candy.

And I'll add that even with the extensive cleaning required to use our juicer, I do plan to use it on occasion so please share any juice recipes you like or detoxes you've done - I'd love to try them!