How to do DIY yourself! (yes, it's supposed to be read that way)

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If you’re anything like me, you’re a stubborn, home-decorating DIYer with a flair for the fun instead of the fancy. Aka, you persist on focusing on projects that are bordering on or hover just above your general level of knowledge, skill and for the most part, laziness, and just DO IT ANYWAY.

Maybe I should call it ”DIAer”…

Because even if the simple spice rack is built from like eight bits of wood that have just been sawed off right in the middle, they’re still not equally long, straight, nor even. The thing didn’t even fit right but I... made it fit. Hehehe. *whirrs electrical screwdriver and winks* One shelf leans outwards (I have no idea why) so it’s just a matter of time before the salt and pepper grinder starts sliding closer to its sudden doom. But, if that happens, I’ll just nail a little wood strip there and TADA, problem solved and the spice rack is back to fucking PERFECT again.

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Don’t let anyone fool you. The kitchen table is a perfectly suitable spice rack until YOU say otherwise!

So hey! Here’s my guide how YOU can be as awesome as me in doing home projects and get pleased enough by the result that you’re inclined to make tutorials on the internet!  

1. Wander about your own home, stare at sections of it and feel slight feelings of discontentment. Or get angry with messes and stuff that has no homes, that’s the most efficient one.

2. Research what you want instead. Dream big, gurl! Do you want to paint your entire bedroom a forest green and place build storage perfectly adapted to your needs and add copper piping just because it’s pretty? Save that shit in your inspiration folder. The things you do later on may look nothing like it, but NO ONE CAN STEAL YOUR DREAMS! 

3. Make an actual plan of what needs to be done. Measurements of the place of project, its needs, your needs, prep work, materials, how you like it to be, where you can shortcut the shit out of it (this is important for us lazy people). 

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The importance of having a proper place to DIY is just propaganda from the workbench lobby, I swear.

4.  Invest in or gather all that paraphernalia that you need for your project to go through. I would say that good quality tools are a great way to start, but that makes me sound like some kind of professional person and we don’t want that!

5. This is the most important step; Lower your standards. I know, I know, but the rule of not lowering your standards cannot apply to DIY’s because even the most skilled ones that make magical things the general public drops their coffee cups in awe over, are displeased afterwards. Yes, we’re JUST LIKE the awesome ones! We can do it (on our level)!

6. Do it. Make it. Swear over it. Shove that shit together even though it’s not really fitting together anymore and you don’t understand why. If needed, use screws and glue and tape and industrial straps. If being reaaally careful and finicky isn’t really your thing, just wing it when it feels good! It’s all fine! 

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Some say that need is the mother of invention, but
one should not underestimate the importance of laziness.

7. Fasten your stuff properly; you don’t want your projects to meet their doom in loose screws getting detached from the wall. If anything, they’re gonna end their lives by you getting fed up with them. Install that marvel and finish it off, don’t leave half assed projects lying around. What? What’s in the corner? Oh it’s just the drawers I’m supposed to assemble… later. All those framed pictures on the floor? They’re going up… soon. Hm, what? Oh, that’s just boxes of stuff we’re donating.. shortly.

8. Enjoy your work of DIA-art and use the hell out of it! It’s AWESOME! YOU MADE IT! Yeah, so I COULD BUY a spice rack but why would I want to when I could make it myself and get it… well not exactly as I wanted it, but pretty dang close because everything I make myself automatically gets added awesomeness and forgiveness, and also I lowered my standard! 

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9. Post that piece of wonder on the internet. The internet needs more pleasantly passable DIY’s, more tolerable storage solutions, more decent interior home projects of the ”not bad” persuasion.

10. And don’t let anyone convince you otherwise!

(11.) And keep the fuck away from plumbing and electricity; we're not made for that.

Third time is the charm even for gardening?

Honestly, things kind of just got out of hand. In more ways than one.

I was supposed to cheerily submit a post last week about this topic, but when I sat down by the kitchen table to take some photos of the seed packets I looked around the kitchen and saw things that didn’t belong and you know that itch to instantly do something totally different than the thing you actually set out to do sets in and you find yourself five hours later, having turned the entire kitchen upside down, rebuilt shelves, cleared out the fridge, washed stuff up, sorted, decluttered and gotten annoyed by exactly how many bags of cinnamon you have? No? Come on, I know you do. Oh, and there were four of them. Four. Yeah, I don’t know either.

Anyways, that’s what happened last week. No pictures of seed packets were taken and no plan was made nor any seeds planted. The kitchen looks great, though.

So, today I tried again. I sauntered into the kitchen around 11 AM and made myself three large cups of coffee to kick start up this sack of potatoes of a body and figured I’d just clear the dining room table and sort my packets in there instead seeing as the kitchen table is full of spice jars because what I ACTUALLY WERE SUPPOSED TO DO today was to assemble a spice rack so we can use the kitchen table again, but let’s not derail us any further.

I sat down, spread the packets out on the dining table and gleefully started planning my attack on the beloved activity of putting small pieces of green into small portions of soil and just hoping for the best. I managed to take some photos, go me!

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But then I thought, “We’re supposed to plant all these dang seeds, and gosh jolly there’s a lot of them, but where?” The patio is a fucking disaster and the little plastic pots I’m supposed to plant in are somewhere in the middle of it. I grabbed my witchy cup of coffee and ventured out onto the patio.

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“Dang, there’s a lot of stuff here.” I stared for a long time at the patio, breaking a sweat because even in Sweden, in February, glazed patios hold the lovely temperature of 35C/95F in the sun. I lifted a bag of fire wood, had nowhere to put it, dropped it again and thought; “We should keep these in the garage, but there’s a disaster in there too.”

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“Yeah, plant those veggies, do it. See if you get to keep’em for yourselves. Hint; you wont.”

The garage. I stared at the garage. Dangit. Before I even had time to register the decision, I knew what tree I was barking up. Cue me seven hours later, sitting down for the first time since that faithful second on the patio, having gone through and sorted the entire garage, sorted and cleaned the patio, AND shoveled my way through 50 meters of icy, knee deep snow to reach the outhouse where the dang missing plastic planting pots could be. They weren’t there, nor in the garage or on the patio.

So naturally I haven’t managed to plant any seeds yet. The garage and patio looks great, though.  

I went five days without any drains and this is what happened

Nothing. Nothing happened, you clickbaity titles-lovers! Or well, not nothing. A lot of things happened. Taking the bus to the nearby mall at my regular daily toiletry hour happened five days out of seven, for example. Apparently, a LOT of people don’t wash their hands at Ikea..

Life has its twists and turns. Sometimes, you lather yourself in technology, tumbling around in phones and surf pads and mobile chargers and cords that you trip over and you feel very modern when donning fitness trackers that count every step you take and, ahem, exactly how many minutes that nap lasted for. But sometimes it’s time for little more old school versions of life, a gentle reminder of everything we have and all the things we maybe don’t take for granted, but at least rely heavily on in the everyday existence.

Yes, it was time to renovate the drain and sewage pipes allotted to this piece of real estate.

We had hardly awoken from the effort of hosting a party for 42 people when two young men showed up on our door step with huge rolls of white, squishy floor protection plastic, duct tape and an enormous amount of tools, gadgets, beasts and trolls to set loose in our home.

Either it was time to ditch all our pipes, or the local serial killers had become REALLY organized. We chanced it. After being left alone in the house with the two men for a couple of hours and they had mostly just pattered by me, rolling out plastic in what felt like the entire house and disassembling all of our drains, I felt quite sure that they were in fact the pipe-renovation guys.

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After quietly huddling in the living room sofa for a few hours, because having strangers messing around in your house is surprisingly unsettling the first days or so, the moment had come. One of the guys peeked in and said; “We’re gonna get stuff rolling now, so you know”.

And I knew.

No tipping coffee remnants in the kitchen sink. No washing one’s hands like normal. No doing laundry. No dish washer. No… flushing the toilet.

Well, now they had actually taken our toilet by then and put it in the hallway upstairs so not using it came quite easily, and if I may say, extremely naturally... But being able to get water into the house but not out the drains though, is a whole other matter. Completely fucks with all your habits. Filling buckets instead of the drains, putting stuff as reminders in the sinks, messing around with buckets of dirty and clean water and keeping track of what you put in what and PLANNING so much, it’s hard man. I’m just glad I didn’t have my period that week, because messing with a menstrual cup would have probably been awful.

But Ellet, you wonder, where ever did you pee (because women don’t poop, right!)?

Well, we were gifted, as a courtesy of the pipe renovation company, a plastic box with a ring and lid with classy double bagging as a replacer for the comfy white porcelain poop-be-gone-magician. I was handed a bucket of wood pellets and a scoop when I around hour six of the guys stealing my toilet went up to the one closest and said; “I’ve heard something about a glorified litter box?”.

And a glorified litter box it was. Also, the only location that I was guaranteed privacy was the garage, so out it went. At least I now know that sitting down on a plastic ring in a garage that holds the quaint temperature of just above freezing feels exactly the same as sitting down on the porcelain ring in our regular bathroom. The things you learn, right?

My biggest challenge was day 3 when I really needed to shower. Still feverish and beat from the cold that had been ravaging my body for a week by then, I couldn’t muster up the strength to take the bus downtown and shower at my old job, or say, my empty apartment. I just couldn’t do it, but I really needed to wash myself.

So what does one do then? Yes. I know you guys know where this is going. Yes. Three buckets of hot water, a small towel, a big towel and soap was carried out into the garage, early as to get myself cleaned up before any dudes in their mid-20’s arrived to possibly pop up anywhere at any time. After careful planning to go from cleanest to dirtiest with the buckets, and only undressing the necessary bits at a time, I was clean! Proudly, I could ascertain that cleaning oneself in a garage in a temperature around freezing, was surprisingly not-terrible. I mean, it wasn’t great. But I did manage to get clean and didn’t freeze much at all. Sometimes I wonder if I actually can carry my Swedish-Finnish mix with some kind of pride.

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Litter box to the left, cleaning station post-wash to slight right

The job dragged out for a few extra days because of a little trouble, but we got to the end at last, having been totally without drains from Monday lunch to Friday at 8 PM, and then during office hours Monday-Tuesday the following week. And in all the madness of super loud air compression machines shoving epoxy soaked socks into our pre-war cast iron pipes like female condoms into muffs everywhere, almost soaking one of the guys in coffee because I forgot right at the end that I wasn’t allowed to pour it down the drain, having them running around in our house for eight (EIGHT) long days, machines going RAWR! every 20 minutes twice overnight, and washing myself in the garage in the dark so the neighbors wouldn’t think that the new people in the neighborhood are weird AND exhibitionistic (I mean, I can handle weird), I learned a few things.

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I called it sewage chic

1.       You get used to strangers hanging out in your house real fast. And I mean real fast. Three days into it, I constantly forgot they were there as soon as they quieted. I’m sure they heard a TMI conversation or two because.. well, I don’t censor myself at home most of the time.

2.       Having to go outside in the middle of the night to pee doesn’t bother me at all as much as I had feared. I have survived camping and now this? Who am I? A REASONABLE person?

3.       Hanging out late at night, brushing one’s teeth with one’s partner outside with the water mug on a frozen log, isn’t all that bad. It was one of my favorite aspects of the whole thing. Well, apart from having whole pipes, that is.

4.       You’ll spend weeks afterwards opening your eyes in the morning and going “I’m gonna pee this morning! INSIDE!” and really enjoy a luxury tour to the bathroom.

5.       If I’m really tired, I can sleep through someone sawing through metal. And then still wake up if a bird jumps around on a branch outside my window the rest of the time. “Okay”.

6.       Smoothing the insides of cast iron pipes with diamond studded chains sounds like letting an angry badger loose in the pipes, from a home owner’s point of hearing.

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At least all the monstrosities that they dragged in didn’t make the old oil-burner room,
that I’ve dubbed “The horror room”, any WORSE right?

A little advent update

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Well fuck me. We have survived!

After being three people working full time emptying the house for two weeks, yes, two weeks, we moved in. And we have waded through our own stuff since then. And by “waded”, I mean actually waded, tipped over, rummaged through, slowly sorted and repeatedly lost everything we needed and then found it again, and eventually just found homes for the stuff we have.

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Over the last few days the sorting have picked up (aka, gotten down to a small enough amount of stuff to just put in moving boxes under the basement stairs until the party have come and gone, ahem), and yesterday the red sea of stuff just parted like Jebus himself had stepped down from the skies and made the stuff go away. Now, of course, it’s my blood, sweat and tears that lay the solid ground for the order in this house, being a home-all-day-person, so Jebus can’t take the credit for this one, lemmetellyathat.

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The next obstacle before I’m gonna crash on the couch and not move for weeks, is the house warming party this weekend. In October I made the obviously crazy decision to combine the house warming party with my birthday party because... why not, right? Well, you could say that “But that only leaves you guys two weeks to get your shit together, that’s why!” and you would be entirely correct in your assessment of the amount of crazy. But October-Ellie just brushed that off and exclaimed; “But that’s December-Ellie’s problem!” and went ahead and invited 70 people anyways.

Fortunately, December-Ellie can announce that only half of the invitees have accepted. Cough. Gulp.

“Only”.

I’m looking forward to it though! And, most important of all!; We managed to celebrate the first of Advent as well, after the great parting of the stuff-sea. We dressed the tree and lit the first of four candles in the Advent wreath. Of course, the Christmas decorations went up as soon as I got the chance to. You guys know me. Hee hee.

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I'm moving. Again.

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Looking out my window, the rooftops glisten white. Winter threw itself over us with what felt like little to no warning. Autumn was short and intense, after five months of unprecedented summer that stretched on for what seemed like forever.

When I joked around the last time about not being able to stay in one place for more than two years, I didn’t know it would be true this time as well. My little apartment was my fort, my safe zone, MINE. I was to stay here for a long time, not to lay my place to live in the hands of another. I wasn’t supposed to spend my time in a home that I was allowed to dwell in by the good graces of another person, being able to rip it from me at any time just by using a couple of words, like “It’s over”.

But as the first snow crunches underfoot, my apartment is in disorder. I’m packing, and I’m leaving my safe spot. I’m moving to a house, with a man and his two kids. If you told me this in June, I would have old-lady-cackled at you and said “Yeah that’s not happening!”.

Yet here I am. Moving to start a life with a family, with a little yellow house to tend to, a garden to plant things in, space to DO things and kids to hang out with.

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Space and a feeling of home has been my main gripe since I lost my first real home-home (the feeling of really belonging somewhere) three years ago, and ending up in small rooms in crowded apartments. Don’t get me wrong, I’m forever grateful for the open arms I’ve stumbled into these couple of years, but I’ve missed the house. Missed having space. Missed having MY space, large enough to live life as I wanted to. Missed having a garden to whine about weeds in, watch flowers grow, feed birds. Missed having a fireplace to warm my senses when fall comes along. Missed having somewhere to invite people for dinner without getting cramped. Missed the connection to nature that is so much more apparent when living in a house instead of an apartment.

So, having gone through three apartments in three years, I’m now moving to ground level. With a family.

That’s why it’s been all silent here for a month. With parts of my health being shaky, seven exams and a move within a few couple of weeks, it’s going be silent here for a little while longer. Then I’m back, hopefully with returned vigor, because I’m going to have a real kitchen again. A living room. A CRAFT ROOM. Shit. I’ve already got a long list of things I want to do, craft, cook and decorate.

Oh, and I’ve also, in pure anticipating and joy, brought back my inside-outside header. Because soon, I’m gonna have an outside again. Let’s hope it’s for the long run this time.

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Okay, so I made oat bars

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You know how you just suddenly crave oats? No? Okay…

Ahem.

Well, you know how you just loathe everyday cooking and you’ve promised your boyfriend that you won’t eat any candy but you want to and realize that there’s a solution to both your problems? A magical way of circumferencing that big block of candy-denial that is the man that keeps on showing up at your apartment when you’re trying to claw open the chocolate bar in the fridge while trying to find like rocks that are the same weight as chocolate to put into the chocolate packaging for the quick little Indiana Jones-swap in case your he checks your fridge for looting?

Okay, good, now you’re with me!

The step following your clever solution-step is googling “granola bars”. A lot. Because people put the weirdest shit in these, man. Like more butter than oats? Milk? Honey, syrup, sugar AND brown sugar? Seriously? I’m cutting candy so I can avoid diabetes, man. DRIED CRANBERRIES? What are we, savages?

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So when you finally find a recipe that’s like doable with some alterations, it’s half past ten in the evening and you just sort of roll off of the couch and make your dullest late-Saturday-night shopping ever, consisting of seeds, dried prunes and white chocolate. It could mislead you to believe that I don’t have a very exciting life.

Okay, so I don’t. There’s nothing wrong with that!

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After all that strain to rush to the store, I unloaded everything in the kitchen and promptly went to bed, slept for eight hours, and then drank coffee for four hours before I ventured towards the bags of dry things loitering on my stove top. The making of my oat bars were of enough urgency to make me go biking for an hour a Saturday evening… obviously.

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As Toby, who was eliminated in the first episode of season 4 of Great British Bake Off said; “And I have grrrrrated my thumb”. Here in the north, we always sacrifice a smidgeon of blood to make the cooking fulfilling for all parts.

Then about three hours of roasting oats, pouring things into bowls, humming hesitantly, doubting my purpose in life, going through dabs of all forms of sugar in my household, melting chocolate and chopping prunes ensued. What? I complain about cranberries and then use PRUNES? I’m half-Finnish, dude. One of the classic Finnish desserts is a dark brown sludge that exactly resembles sticky chocolate pudding but is merely WHEAT boiled until dead and then you pour a tad of full fat cream on it and remember the olden lands full of bark and darkness. Prunes are true joy, I tell you!

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Raspberry and white chocolate, probably the most popular of the three kinds.

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Prunes and dark chocolate. Gloriously Finnish.

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Chocolate and orange, I totally winged it because there are NO RECIPES on chocolate and orange oat bars that doesn’t contain stupid stuff like bananas or orange concentrate. I pressed one orange’s juices and zested two, that was more than enough to flavour it!

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The oat bars were tried and tested and approved by me and my gastronomical support that approves of everything I cook because that means he doesn’t have to. I still got a ton in the fridge; they’re supposed to last for like two weeks if kept cold. They are indeed a little… healthy tasting inspite of the chocolate and sticky sugaryness that keeps the oats somewhat from falling all over your clothes when you try and eat them, but all in all, they’re a great treat!


Here are the recipes I read and altered after my own silly tastes. The first one is the base for the prune and orange ones, the second is the raspberry and white chocolate one.

Best Dang Granola Bars Ever
Chewy Raspberry Apple Granola Bars (altough I used lemon curd instead of apple sauce because I didn’t have any apple sauce but I did have lemon curd. I’m fancy like that.)

Glögg! For all you Christmas happy DIY'ers out there

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The winds have finally turned. The sweaty, fumbling hands of summer, eagerly trying to get at the little remains of any part of this country’s sweet tender flesh that wasn’t on the brink of bursting into flames seem to finally have released its hunt for us.

Luckily, the slight shivering grip that summer holds on the few remaining survivors, making it unreasonably warm in spite of it being September, isn’t enough to stifle my joy as we’re heading into my favorite part of the year: Autumn, to be followed by Christmas. With the Christmassy scent that wafts through my residence every year in September, I better enjoy it; otherwise it’d just be a massive buzz kill.

Because you see, my fellow internetters, every year when autumn rolls around, I make my own glögg. Of course, the recipe itself isn’t at all unique nor lovingly made by my grandmother’s grandmother to be passed down unto me with a low whisper; “Take care of this piece of history and pass it on to future generations”. No, it was just posted as a classic in a local newspaper in the city of Gothenburg, Sweden. I found it while googling. There’s a meaningful back story for ya.

Anyways, in Sweden it’s called glögg, with its internationally more classy cousins glühwein, mulled wine and vin chaud. This version of glögg my friends, is the epitome of rural folksy drunkenness. Taste wise, it’s up there in the fancy lounges, but during the making of it, it’s certainly an ugly duckling.

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In short, all you need is spices, a watered down kind of beverage called “weak drink” (yes, whatever prejudice you have in mind is about correct), potatoes to give that real folky kind of feel, the disgusting wreckages of grapes also known as raisins, sugar and yeast. Sounds delish, right? Now dump all of that together in a classy as fuck plastic bucket (food grade of course) that’s left to ferment at the warmest coziest spot of your dwelling and in four weeks’ time, you’ll be plastered stiff by this magical, red-brownish mishmash of everything that’s enjoyable in Christmas times except for saffron. Don’t worry; I’m sure you can add that later on anyways.

Now, this recipe is quite simple, and I will list it, but I firstly I need to talk about the “weak drink”. The name is pure Swedish-English translation and it’s kind of like... It’s like if you would drink half a can of actual beer and then leave it out overnight, having the classic Swedish night rain fill up the can with water and expel all forms of alcohol in it. I would imagine it tasting pretty close to the weak drink. So I mean, you Americans out there can just choose your regular beer. BOOM!

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Okay, so now we all know how to MAKE it. But how does it look? Unfortunately, I have to inform you that it is an ugly mess during construction. Your friends will shy away when they see it. You will be thinking “What have I done?”. The only person who won’t actively shy away from the hot, fermentation-fizzy freak of a bucket is that one relative you have who eats just about anything.

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Example of how you could try classying it up a little, because adding a wooden box adds that air of craftmanship. The saying “Lipstick on a pig” could fit here.

But don’t worry. When it’s all said and done, and it’s been left to its own devices for four to six weeks, you ladle off the floaty bits and then punish it by putting it in below freezing temperatures for a while in order for all the swimming bits to sink to the bottom. Then you just hose the clear, beautifully scented glögg into bottles, careful not to get the bottom sludge along, and in tightly shut bottles, it’ll keep for up to three years!

HOME MADE GLÖGG, RECIPE!

Original recipe here.

5 liters of weak drink (watered down beer-ish tasting alcohol free fizzy drink)

5 sliced potatoes

50 grams of fresh yeast for sweet doughs

15 grams of whole cloves

20 grams of cardamom seeds

5 cm’s of fresh ginger, shaved and divided in four pieces

1 cinnamon stick

300-500 grams of raisins

2.5 kilos of sugar

3 dried bits of bitter orange peel (the original recipe is without this)

Mix it all in a ten liter bucket, put saran wrap with poked aeration holes over the top, let sit for 4-6 weeks. If your house is cold, find the warmest spot. I found that under 17C/62F, the fermentation goes into hibernation and we don’t want that!

Clarify with cold or whatever method you like to use. Siphon the cleared glögg without getting the bottom silt with you. Heat up and drink! The Swedish style is with almonds and raisins dropped into it.

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A warning has to go out; if you drink as much as you like of it, the picture above will be a true representation of how you feel, and… see. So, it’s for grown ups to enjoy only. You’ll notice that when you sniff it for the first time and your false lashes pops right off of your face when meeting the warm, surprisingly alcoholic winds of your home made glögg.

Cheers!