The End of Summer, and Asters.

Hi! Sorry for the infrequent posts. Life has been very busy lately and I´ve been away for a few weekends... which, note to self, just isn´t possible at this time of the year when the garden needs a lot of attention. I feel like I´m so behind on all things "home" and it stresses me out. I am also struggling with a sinusitis that just won´t get better.. wah wah wah woe is me. All of this to say, there was no time to take pictures, but yesterday in the evening I ran out to quickly catch the Asters in all their glory.

Asters! I love them so. I struggle with them a lot in the walled garden since they are so invasive, but at the same time I wouldn´t want to miss them. I have quite a few varieties and when they are all blooming it´s like the last hurrah of summer. 

Speaking of summer, it´s clearly over. Today in the morning the water in the chicken coop was frozen solid for the first time. It was such a good, good summer so I am feeling extra nostalgic about going into autumn and winter. I also feel strongly that this will be a tough winter. Mark my words, friends. Winter is coming.


Dispatches from September. 

September is my favorite month. I always feel like I need to bottle those gorgeous fall days up. Also, dahlias. Note so self: Plant more dahlias next year.

The walled garden is tired and in a state of autumnal mess. I haven´t had the time to properly attend to it since we returned from Sweden and it shows. The asters are blooming though, so that´s something!

Strong contender for "cutest cat picture 2015". 

Speaking of cute animals, we got two new chickens! Meet Greta (the white one) and Tilda (reddish-brown). Technically they aren´t ours but belong to two of our nephews; we are just taking care of them on a long-time basis ;-) I don´t expect you to keep up with our neverending chicken shenanigans, but for those who are interested, we lost another hen over the summer so we are now back to a flock of four hens which is a good size for us. I really hope we´ll have them for a good long time.

We´ve been harvesting like crazy the past few weeks, first tomatoes and plums (to a point where I am now sick of both) and this weekend we started on apples, potatoes, cabbage... the list goes on. Also, my tiny little quince tree is bearing fruit for the first time this year, about 30 wonderful, big quinces! Ah, so proud. Quince jelly anyone?

Here´s Ludwig helping with the potatoes. Such a good helper! (Not.)

I had a full weekend in the veggie garden and it finally looks a little better. So much to harvest still, but finally there´s a sense of order again. September! So good.


Sweden, week two: Things we did.

Last Sweden post... I was planning to be through with them at this point, but life is very busy right now, so bear with me. Anyway here´s what we did in week two of our trip. Since I´m a huge Astrid Lindgren fan we spent a day touring the several places in Smaland that have a relation to her. The picture above is the house where her father lived before he moved to Vimmerby where Astrid was born. Much later the movie "The Children of Bullerbyn" was filmed here.

Which is why there´s a sign saying "Bullerbyn" on that barn even though the village actually has a different name (which I´ve since forgotten). Bullerbyn was a funny experience since it´s basically just a very small village with only three houses and a small café for the tourists. The café was already closed for the winter though and again we were pretty much the only tourists there, but the huge parking lot gave us an idea how busily frequented it must be during the summer.

I was going back and forth whether or not I wanted to visit Astrid Lindgren´s World in Vimmerby which is basically an Astrid Lindgren theme park but in the end I decided against it. I hear it is actually very well made but I do have an aversion against theme parks of any kind and I just couldn´t risk to ruin all the Astrid Lindgren stories in my imagination, if you know what I mean. We did visit Astrid Lindgren´s Näs though where you can tour the house Astrid grew up in (see pic above) and also there´s a museum and newly planted gardens. It´s all very nice but also a bit weird since all this is smack in the middle of a pretty terrible new development from the 80ies (I think). It´s a bit like that busy highway in Monet´s Garden - worlds collide...

On another day we visited Eksjö which is a very lovely historic town which consists almost entirely of those old wooden houses painted in various colors. I loved it there.

The Swedish and their paint colors. Major love.

There were a lot of small enchanted backyards in this town.

On our last day we went to visit the small town of Gränna (home of the famous red-and-white candy canes!) which is located by a huge lake named the Vättern. The lake is so large that it looks more like the sea. It was a lovely day so we took a long walk with Ludwig.

And on the next day, we went home. Bye Sweden, you were lovely! Such a wonderful trip, we´ll be back for sure.


Sweden, week two: The house.

We spent the second week of our holiday in Småland, near the small town Nässjö. Our holiday cottage (the listing is here) was a very lovely surprise. I had picked and booked another cottage originally but a few days later the owner rejected us because our dog was too large (?) so I had to find a replacement real quick. I chose this one because it was really affordable and only a 3-minute-walk from a lovely lake. And I thought it was really, really cute from the outside. 

However I thought the interior looked sort of shabby in the pictures of the listing, so I didn´t expect much. I was delighted to realize that the house was actually a jewel box. A jewel box that was very hard to photograph though. This is one of the cases where the reality is much better than the photos! The owners had taken great care to restore/maintain the house according to its age and history. I loved the smurf blue kitchen cabinets! 

The cottage was far too big for us and had several rooms that we didn´t really need, among them this dining room which was my favorite, because, wallpaper! The owner told us it was a reproduction of a historic wallaper that fits the style and age of the house. So pretty.

Most of the rooms had those old wonderful Swedish stoves that were sadly disfunctional (there was a wood-burning stove in the kitchen though which heated the entire house). 

The living room was very mid century inspired. Don´t you love the striped rug? 

The first floor landing was another favorite of mine. It had pistachio green walls, red floors and light grey doors and trim. It was perfect. 

This was the kid´s bedroom which my husband thought was a bit creepy (I think it´s that photograph on the wall) but naturally I loved the wallpaper. 

The cottage had a lovely large garden which was perfect for Ludwig (we had a mobile fence with us which you can get a glimpse of in this pic). Aren´t those outdoor chairs adorable? Chairs in this style were everywhere in Sweden.

The lake! We had this lake house all for ourselves, and also a rowing boat which we didn´t use because Ludwig isn´t such a good sailor. And yes I did swim in this lake! Once. Here´s proof.

Such a sweet little house. I could totally live there!


Sweden, week one: Things we did. 

Tjörn isn´t terribly large but there are quite a few things you can do on the island. For example climb a steep hill in the town of Rönnäng and enjoy the view. Not so shabby, right?

That´s the tiny island of Åstol right there. We meant to visit it for its famous smoked fish but just missed the ferry. Better luck next time. Having experienced Sweden during off-season, there´s a good chance we wouldn´t have been able to buy fish anyway. Most everything is closed and even at major tourist attractions there are often just a few people. It´s sort of amusing.

Case in point: Sundsby Säteri, which is a converted farm with a cafe, a shop (closed) and a small museum. I think there were two other people there.

Sundsby Säteri has a wonderful kitchen garden. Very neat and lush and pretty. They had a large bed of cutting flowers which is something I intend to do next year in my garden. Isn´t the color combination amazing?

On another day we visited Pilane which is an outdoor art thingy. Quite frankly we both weren´t blown away by the art but the premises are quite spectacular. Apparently it used to be some kind of holy place/gravesite ages ago which I totally understand, that place is very special.

Look, two more people besides us! The freaky person on top of the hill is art and not actually a person.

(In case anyone is interested, my raincoat is from Boden. I realize it´s probably more appropriate for 4-year-olds than for almost-40-year-olds, but life is too short to wear boring clothes, right? It´s also very good quality).

This time the person on top of the hill isn´t art, but my husband. And Ludwig, of course.

Ludwig met some sheep at Pilane and it was the best thing ever. He does know sheep, we have a few in the village, but he had not gotten very close to them before. Our very brave hunting dog was maybe just a little bit scared of them.

One day we discoverd a very lovely small village near the coast. It doesn´t really come across very well in the pictures but it was super cute. I could totally see myself living there. I won´t tell you its name so that it can stay my personal little secret.

We also visited Fjällbacka which isn´t exactly a secret usually, there was a warning in our tourist guide to expect crowds of tourists. Well...Fjällbacka was literally empty when we got there. We were going to have lunch there but every single restaurant was closed except one that wouldn´t allow dogs even outside (weird). Off-season strikes again!

So that was week one of our Sweden trip! Week two is coming up next week.