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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DIY Glögg

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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 are 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!

The Christmas sacrifice

You’re supposed to show your best sides around Christmas it’s said, and give of yourself. People give money and presents and to charity. But I would like to direct your attention to my sacrifice.

I got a huge blister cutting the rocky road candy for the Christmas celebrations with my family.

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I'm not gonna lie. I feel a little closer to Jesus now.

The mighty Christmas wreath

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The creation of this wreath started when my ex-husband and I bought a house with a HUGE 1970's style fireplace in it, and when we neared the Christmas season we naturally needed a wreath that matched it's bricky hugeness. 

I measured and we needed a wreath that was one meter wide! 

One day a little later, my then husband came home and surprised me with a decoration free wreath that my mother in law had put together, so nice! But.. with me being picky, and with it being just a tad too big, I disassembled it, tightened it a little and then put it back together. 

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When it came to decorating it, I rummaged through my collection of stuff and decided on a colour palette of gold, copper and brown! I did test-lay everything on before I fastened it because I do have some sense of self preservation.

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First of all, the lights went on, 80 or 120, I can't remember.

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Then I test-placed all the things. 

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Fastened them with pipe cleaners (sticks so good to the branches) or linen string. 

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Tweet! 

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Then I put it up and it looked like a mini on the huge fireplace, but this was the best fit anyways. The 70's fireplace makers knew what they were doing, that's for sure.

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It fits over a not-quite-as-huge fireplace too!

A readily slow weekend

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A little Sunday-soused on the red wine I forced out of a leftover bag-in-box from my birthday party, I pulled out the last tray of Finnish Christmas stars out of the oven and put them on the stove. I looked around the kitchen at the post-baking mess and thanked the technology lords for the entity called “a dishwashing machine”.

Now it’s sloshing happily out there in the kitchen while cleaning up my mess with a gentle hand after my, if I may say so myself, quite successful attempt to get my shit together and do some Christmas baking instead of just lying on the couch watching Bones. I realized that I could watch Bones in the kitchen anyway, I have a laptop!

This weekend I’ve only left the apartment in the name of errands, a nice contrast to the previous five weekends that just somehow sort of ended with the spontaneous social consumption of alcoholic beverages and visits at the local meat market, also called “the bar”.

In an Instagram competition, I recently won a book made for singles, “The handbook for singles on the brink of a nervous breakdown (SE)”. Entertained, I’ve reached page 245 but in direct contrast to the quote on the front page “Recognition is total, buy it!” I can conclude that I can in no way identify with the author of the book. The closest thing I can relate is that we’d passed our 30th birthday before we exclaimed “YOLO!” for the first time. The book tells a story very similar Sex and the City and that kind of single life is drastically different to my everyday grind as a single person in my 30’s.

The nearest I’ve been to lumber down cobbled big city streets in stiletto heels, eating fancy dinners at restaurants with French sounding names then drinking a glass of fancy red at Riche while flirting with gorgeous single men, is when V and I celebrated my birthday last year by getting drunk on bubbly at home with my mom and then going to McDonalds in order to keep the worst of the intoxication at bay. Later on, we realized that the place we’d picked for the evening only contained 18-year olds and I’m not quite ready to be a cougar yet.

Hastily we went to a place that takes an entrance fee and I immediately got chatted up be a 40-year old, kind of hot, math teacher. Ah, better. That was a year ago.

But soon it’s Christmas. The season for doing stupid things. Let’s see what happens this year.

A hungover December Sunday

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It’s the second of advent. The Christmas trees (yes, plural) spread their soft glow in the December afternoon and the scent of a freshly baked ham is spreading through the apartment. A soft snowfall has powdered the city in a thin sheet of white during the night. Only the, let’s use the word “expressive”, screams from a man losing a whole lot in some kind of computer game breaks the silence that has lowered itself over the household, a household that during this Sunday has experienced that special sort of suffering silence that only follow a night of a thorough round of alcohol consumption.

Yes! Because yesterday, I had my birthday party!

One after one they dropped in to celebrate with me and before 2 am when I threw the last partyers out, I’d been sung to twice, gotten lovely gifts that I hadn’t expected and gotten myself really off of my face on an excessive amount of white russians. Parties, huh. I love having them, even though being host causes me the kind of neurotic stress that makes me want to throw myself on the couch, dramatically press a cool, moistened towel to my forehead with one hand and softly waving with the other hand at things for my roomie to clean, careful not to spill the drink said hand is holding dearly.

I didn’t get all THAT dramatic even though the cleaning of the apartment to prepare for the party was preceded by the town bloodbath after I, in an attempt to make a potato gratin, stabbed myself in the hand.

I know it’s karma for me laughing hysterically for a few minutes just the weekend before after my brother in law fileted his thumb on his mandolin and photographed a tiny little piece of flesh, complete with finger print pattern, resting between slices of carrot. 

I still laugh. It was worth it.