Monday, 31 December 2012

2012 recap

In 2012 I...

... Started this blog, as a way for friends and family in Sweden to keep up with my life here, and because it's fun for me to document everyday-life.

... Volunteered as a classroom assistant at a local school and then I got a temporary job in Lisburn over the summer.

... Got better at baking, and tried lots of new recipes.

... Celebrated Steve's graduation from university.

... Visited Sweden and celebrated my brother finishing secondary school.

... Moved from Belfast to Steve's parents' house.

... Started final year of my Psychology course. Uh, time passes way too quick.

... Started taking driving lessons and passed my driving theory test, finally.

... Bought our very first own house!

In 2013 I'm looking forward to...

... Finally getting the keys for our house.

... Decorating said house.

... Going to Paris with my mom by the end of January.

... Graduating from my Psychology course.

... Hopefully going to a proper festival for the first time in my life. (Before I get too old for that stuff.)

... Visiting Sweden at least twice. (That's right, next year I HAVE to celebrate Christmas in my hometown. It's been too long now.)

... Finally getting my driving license.

I don't do New Year's resolutions, but if I did, I'd just try to be a more positive person. To be more grateful for what I have in my life because I'm really spoiled with good things and I just don't appreciate it enough. Happy New Year!

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Dining room decisions

Have I talked about my dining room yet? No? That's probably because a) I have no dining room (I don't even have the house yet as mentioned previously) but rather a corner of the kitchen that I plan on turning into a dining area. That's where me and Steve will read the morning paper over coffee on lazy Sunday mornings and where we'll entertain all those rich friends that we have who want to visit for dinner parties. Fancy. Or, which is more likely, it's where we will dump all our bills/laptops/other things that need to be stored somewhere else than the kitchen but it always ends up in the kitchen anyway. Oh and b) because I always believed that the dining room is the most boring room out of any existing rooms. But not anymore! I'm one step away from colour-coordinating the cupboard in which the boiler resides, so naturally I'm all about sorting out this dining room/corner at the moment.

This is a rough home-made layout of the upper right corner of our bungalow. I say 'rough', because I haven't been in the house for three months now and in my mind the size of the kitchen switches between cupboard-size and ballroom-appropriate constantly. My memory is not the best (and yet it's better than Steve's, who barely remembers if we have a kitchen or not). The L-shape in the corner is all of our cupboards and kitchen appliances and on the opposite wall we have two doors who are in the way of anything productive happening there. But the bottom wall, the one that in my mind should be just about large enough for a table with four seats around it, is where the magic will happen.

If I had my way our house would look like it was taken straight out of an IKEA-catalogue, something like this. Unfortunately the kitchen is spacious and contemporary and there is really no point in trashing the whole design just because I'm not fussed on the wood that is being used. The cupboards are an orange-y brown. Teak possibly? Whatever it is, I'm going to have to learn to live with it and I'm sure that's possible. The next issue is the man who I have to share this house with. Steve is just as stubborn as I am (but with worse taste in furniture) and so here are his rules; the furniture has to be wood and absolutely not plastic (like the lovely table in Pinterest picture 2, 3, 4 and 11). If possible it should look like taken straight from a cabin in an 80s' ski-resort. The table has to be rectangle-shaped rather than round (?!!) and the chairs are not allowed to look spacey.

Fortunately, we have learnt to compromise over the last few years. As a dining set in wood is ridiculously expensive, we're getting a wooden table, preferably in teak so that it looks like it belongs with the rest of my teak-kitchen rather than just a spaceship that landed in our house. And it'll be rectangle, with the short side against the bottom wall. I'd love to have something midcentury-inspired like this or this, but because of budget restrictions I'll settle for anything vaguely table-like. With the table I'm getting four Eames-chair dupes (as seen in picture 2, 4, 6 and 7) and you better believe that I spent A LOT of time convincing Steve that these chairs are allowed into our house. So it's worth the expense.

We have also settled on keeping the walls white in the kitchen. With the teak and the white chairs I feel like there's enough going on and I'd like some room for pictures on the walls as well. Above the table I'd like a round-ish pendant (as seen in picture 5, 7 and 8) in a metal colour but I can't decide on which. Bronze is so very in at the moment but I'd hate to commit to an expensive lamp and then realise a year later that I don't like that metal at all. All of our kitchen appliances are in stainless steel so the lamp will most likely end up in something similar. Above the table I'd like pictures or possibly a thin ledge to put pictures/books on. And a lovely clock to go with it. I think I just may have exhausted my need to talk about my dining room now. All in all, I think we can make it quite a nice corner despite quite a small budget. Particularly compared to what I'd buy if I had lots of money.

All images are from my dream-home Pinterest board, apart from the kitchen layout that I made in Paint. I have too much free time.

Friday, 28 December 2012


The past two days have been filled with hot cups of Lemsip (which is surely the worst thing on this planet), tissues in abundance and lying up on the couch with a blanket over me. In other words, Steve gave me the cold that he got over Christmas. And now I just hope that I'm healthy by the time New Year's Eve comes around. Which is not even a big, favourite holiday of mine, mainly because champagne absolutely destroys me and so I have to sip it really slowly unless I want to end up on the floor. Also, any holiday right after Christmas always feel a little... "meh".

Image from my Pinterest.

Apart from half-sleeping I've also done ridiculously difficult assessment tests for graduate jobs, and I tried out my new espresso coffee maker that I got from Steve. It's amazing but I'm still having trouble making lattes due to not having a clue of what the proper coffee-to-milk ratio is. (Listen to me, talking about lattes. I'm so fancy. If only you knew that I'm wearing sweats and my hair is five days dirty. Yes, five.) The coffee pot itself looks really impressive though, and it's possible that I'm biased because my mom had one just the same for years that she loved. It doesn't matter, I love it anyway. And lots of people are very impressed by it. (Like three people, at least).

For the last few days of 2012 I hope to get rid of this cold, eat every last bit of dessert that's left in the fridge from Christmas and possibly get some quality time spent with Steve since he's off from work. Oh, the hardships of the working man! I'm so happy I get to be a student for another six months.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

So this is Christmas...

So that's Christmas over for another year, and although we didn't get the keys for our new house it was still a pretty good Christmas. Let's face it - by staying in Steve's parents' house we get left-over food, a properly heated house and in general, those are important components of a successful Christmas. Especially if you also have good company and Steve's family definitely is. I'm lucky to have so many people here who I can consider my family even though they're technically not even related to me.

Image from my Pinterest.

Me and Steve exchanged gifts on Christmas Day morning, and I received lots of nice things from him, but my absolute favourites are a wireless speaker that can connect to my phone or my laptop (I'm such a geek) and a lovely blue dress. My size and my style. He knows me so well... Today his sisters and their families were over for a Boxing Day meal and altogether me and Steve received three IKEA vouchers (!), as well as serving plates, pie bowls and other homey gifts. I'm so happy. Those IKEA vouchers will definitely be used. And my family (who I obviously couldn't help but miss) gave me money because shipping gifts is expensive even if they're small and light, and there's just no point when I'd be much happier getting money. That money, will most likely go towards chairs. THE chairs, my dream-chairs. Once I've convinced Steve that they are his dream-chairs too.

And so now that Christmas is over it's time to face my least favourite part of the year... January. Is there anything as dreadful and miserable as the time furthest away from Christmas that also happens to be dark and cold and filled with exams? What were they thinking? (This is addressed to the person who made these January-rules up). However, I have decided to not let January get me down. January is a stepping-stone to February, which is basically Spring (with a capital 'S') and I do like Spring. Plus I'm going to make this January cozy. You'll see.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Five days left

Image from my Pinterest.

Last week went by in a flurry of assignments and sudden and spontaneous plans (yes - I think going for an evening coffee is a spontaneous activity, I am that sad). This week marked the first week of being off from university and therefore also my first week of revision for exams and studying for my driving theory. The driving theory is split into two parts, a bunch of multiple choice questions which I feel really confident with and then the hazard perception part. I am terrified of this part since I keep failing the interactive practice test that I got for the purpose of passing the real test. At the moment I'm keeping calm by reminding myself of the fact that the practice test is probably just rubbish and I'm actually really good at it.

Last weekend I visited my friend in Derry and spent most of my time handing out mulled wine at her gig to anyone who's up for some metal and festivities. I also cuddled with the cutest dog in the world, who I took about a million pictures of. (As someone who always considered herself as a cat person, I'm quite surprised by my own attachment to this dog.) And I went to bed at 8am and got up two hours later to go to IKEA with Steve who had been to a work dinner the night before. Safe to say, we stumbled about in IKEA like zombies. Last night I went to Belfast to celebrate a friend's birthday and I had an amazing time. Mainly because we went to Limelight which will probably forever be one of my favourite places ever.

Today we were supposed to get the keys for our new house, but we didn't. Which was a total bummer, but also expected I guess. Considering that things have certainly taken long enough so far in this process, obviously there was still going to be documents missing by the time that we should be living in the place. I can be accused of a lot of things, but being patient is certainly not one of them and this is starting to really annoy me. At the moment it looks like we won't be getting the house until January. It's difficult for me to accept but I'm doing my best. And to look at things from the bright side, it'll be nice to not have to spend my Christmas holidays painting walls and ceilings. (Speaking of Christmas, this is my current Christmas playlist)

Friday, 14 December 2012

Ten reasons to smile 8.0

- It's ten days left to Christmas! Maybe more! Maybe less! But somewhere around ten!

Two - I just handed in my last two assignments of the year, two and a half hours before deadline. (Obviously I know have exams left to worry about. But still.)

Three - We've gotten a preliminary date for when we get the keys for our house. And I'm sure that we can get settled and move in before Christmas, despite getting the keys merely days before. It's gonna be tough, but I've decided that we will soldier on. Steve has no say in this.

Four - I'm visiting Derry tomorrow and staying until Sunday, which is funny because the last time I was in Derry was almost 11 months ago and I had only just started this blog. I'm going to see my friend's band too, for the first time ever.

Five - I made gingerbread cookies for the first time in years and they turned out really nice. So nice that they're gone less than five days after making them. I might make a second batch. 

Six - Christmas holidays have begun! No more early morning lectures spent half-sleeping in the world's most uncomfortable chairs until it's spring in Northern Ireland again, basically. 

Seven - Steve has to work for another three days, and then he is off for Christmas as well. I can't wait to actually be able to lazy about with someone else for once. 

Eight - This is quite superficial, but I bought two pairs of jeans at Topshop recently, and they're so comfortable. I have that issue where jeans are too big in the wrong places (waist) and way too tight elsewhere (ass), but these may just be my new favourite model...

Nine - My driving lessons are coming along nicely and next week I've booked my theory test. The end of this practice driving is near.

Ten - There is no snow here yet, but there is frost and it makes everything so much prettier.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Spontaneous carols and concerts

I was going to post yesterday but last night suddenly became very busy. In fact, I've left the house at least once every day this last while (which is quite uncharacteristic of my life, really). On Monday while me and Steve were discussing oil prices - oh we're such fun-loving adults - we suddenly remembered that we were supposed to go watch his nieces perform in a carol service in the local church. And we should've left five minutes earlier. We literally ran to the church and got there in time, but not in time to get proper seats. Instead we had to sit next to the stage in the corner of the church on the church floor, and it was cold but okay. The carol service was lovely. Am I the only one who cries when hearing live Christmas carols? It's too emotional for me. (For an awkward bonus story, remind me to tell you about last Christmas when Steve's family decided to sing me a Swedish Christmas carol on Christmas Day and I started bawling my eyes out.)

The gingerbread cookies (unfortunately I'm responsible for that particular piece of icing art) and us at the concert. We look pretty tired. And confused - the lens is on the other side of the camera, guys.

Yesterday I studied and then I bribed a four year old to be happy by letting him ice gingerbread men for a couple of hours. Steve had only just gotten home from work when our friend phoned us and offered free tickets to Lionel Richie. Well... I'm not a big Lionel Richie fan. However, that beardy companion of mine has Lionel Richie as his guilty pleasure (he's not aware that it's a guilty pleasure, but it totally is) and so I went with him to keep him company. Plus it was free and I'm generally up for spontaneous outings nowadays. Saying that, I was not in a good mood when we got there. Between ages of queuing in traffic, finding out that the parking lot was full so we had to park further away and then walk to the concert arena and me wearing my new red blazer that's lovely but decidedly not weather-appropriate - I was ready to just call it a night. I'm happy that I didn't complain (too much) because the concert ended up being really fun. I recognised more songs than I thought it would, the 80s popstar turned out to be quite funny (and so were his biggest fans - most of them women a lot older than me and Steve. The things that were shouted made me blush) and he really can sing. While dancing. While pretty much dripping from sweat. It was entertaining and I got McDonalds as a midnight treat on our way home. Oh Steve, you know me so well. 

Monday, 10 December 2012

Wrapping notes to myself

Because I've already wrapped all of my gifts, it's a little too late to suddenly have great ideas on how to wrap gifts. Luckily, I chose a boyfriend with lots of nephews and nieces and so there's plenty of wrapping opportunities within the next few months. The three ones I'm looking forward to most;

All images are from my Pinterest.

1 - This is the one I'm the most excited about. Printing out pictures and making them into tags! I was planning on printing out pictures of the actual birthday boy/girl for a personalized gift.

2 - Flags out of washi tape, I've been drooling over this for months. I was going to do it for Christmas but I decided to go on a very red/white/brown themed colour scheme and I don't have washi tape in any of those colours. So I guess I need to add a few more colours to my collection.

3 - Cutting out names with pretty wrapping paper. The reason why I haven't done this already is shamefully silly. I don't own any glue. (I mean, I have glue, but it's been wrapped in a box the last four months. In fact, I had to spend 45 minutes in the garage rummaging through boxes today just to find my festive cookie cutters*. Safe to say, when I packed my things at the end of August I never quite realised I'd still not have them by December...) Either way, this is cute. Definite birthday-material.

*Yes, I made gingerbread cookies today! They look amazing. Amazingly ugly. But it's the taste that counts and they're all pretty much edible. Christmas festive feelings in abundance you guys.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

A Christmas-sy week

I wish I could write something useful (and I should be able to because I've got a bunch of things that I feel like I need to write here just to get them structured in my head - the length of that sentence is a good example of how confusing my mind is sometimes) but I can't. I'm just too filled up by Christmas spirit and as it is Sunday night a weekly summery is appropriate.

> There's only one lecture left, then I'm off for Christmas! I still have essays and assignments left - not too mention studying for exams and data collection for this dreaded thesis... But still. Off from school-feeling, you know?

> I have now bought and wrapped all of my gifts. ALL OF THEM. It took a couple of hours and man, my back hurt after a while but now it's done. The worst part is that now I have to put them away until Christmas.  I may wrap a couple of fake gifts just to keep out in the open. You may think I'm insane, but I'm serious.

> I've made gingerbread dough and tomorrow I'm going to find the gingerbread cutters and make myself some gingerbread men and women. And a reindeer or two. I actually got hit by this wave of nostalgia as I tasted the dough. Although I've had Swedish gingerbread cookies several times since moving over, I've never baked them and so I've missed out on the dough-eating process. It's powerful.

> Last night me and Steve went to his sister's house and we watched Arthur Christmas with her two boys. Safe to say we enjoyed the movie more than the kids and I'm not even ashamed. You've got to love movies where you can appreciate the details. The rest of the night was good too with general TV-watching and take-away.

> Today we went with all of Steve's sisters and their families to a big old house where a "Santa's Grotto" is now held. The children made some type of sparkly reindeer food, pet a horse and then they met Santa. I loved it. Not only because they had mulled wine but the surroundings charmed me. Downton Abbey-style. (Do I really want to live in a modern bungalow? Can someone just buy me a castle instead?) The Santa was a hoot as well. A hoot, I tell you.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

First of Advent

This is going to be another one of those posts where I just talk about random stuff that I've been doing. Sorry about that. I love random posts.

> Went to Lisburn on Saturday to do some Christmas shopping. (I thought I was pretty much finished but then I accidentally visited Toys 'R Us and suddenly I had shopped some more... Not for Steve though. I haven't gotten his gift yet. And I'm going to start mentioning it here, just in case he suddenly wants to read my blog. HA. As if.)

> We've also burnt this year's Christmas CD to keep in the car. We've already managed to listen to it a lot.

> In Lisburn I got us Advent Calendars. I don't care that we're adults and that we're buying a house. I want chocolate every morning.

> We ate another 18 inch pizza between us. It wasn't even a struggle and I actually uttered the words "I'd like some more" when we were done. Am I ashamed? Possibly.

> You know that amazing Eames chair that keeps showing up in lots of stylish homes in interior magazines? Yes, this one. Well, I found an amazing duplicate that is about the sixth of the price for the designer one. There's no reason not to get four of these, other than the fact that my boyfriend hates it and doesn't want it in our house.

> We babysat Steve's niece for a couple of hours today. She was asleep when we arrived and then woke up with only us in the house, which, clearly, was her worst nightmare. She screamed for twenty minutes non-stop. At one point we thought that she had lost her voice but she was only taking a brief break to be able to continue with renewed powers.

> There's only a few weeks left of university, and then the exam-stress begins. I have vowed to make a better plan than usual this year - to start studying earlier but for fewer hours a day. (Few weeks left of university = few weeks left until Christmas and until House. House! Hopefully.)