Long time no blogging, feel like it’s hard to beat my last blog post, the Island doesn’t get much more beautiful than that…no who am I kidding, it is a small paradise whatever the weather. That said I’ve spent most of today indoors baking. Second of advent I have a Christmas market in my gallery/barn and there is so much to prepare! Last year the gallery looked great but I didn’t put any xmassy decorations in our home until a few days before Christmas. Today I washed all the windows, put the traditional lights up and also had time to pimp the barn a little bit. I’ve started baking already, the traditional Swedish Lussebullar or Lussekatter as most people say. The are buns with lots of saffron, decorated with raisins and we also put sugar on top. We also made a ginger cookie and white chocolate cheese cake which tastes very promising!
The weather this winter has been as usual varied…we did have heavy snow for a day but then it rained away. That morning with the snow the chicks were so funny. They all queued to get out as usual but froze in their tracks and then desperately dove back in. Before when we’ve had only Hedemora(a traditional Swedish heritage breed) they haven’t minded it too much but this mixed race bunch did. Only Lilja(Lilly) dared to get to the food outside and then dove back inside. He(we hoped that is was a she when we named him) is so gorgeous, pitch black and the tail feathers are growing by the day. I had to kill two cockerels last week and it was the toughest so far because they were so big and strong. Now we are hoping that Lilly will get to stay all depending on how load he will be. Peanut the other cockerel born in spring is doing great, he is so goofy but still manages to keep the flock at peace. We caught him chasing his own tail feathers one day…but if any of the hens are mean to another hen he is right there to brake it up.
Peanut with his posse
I spent all day cleaning out Christmas and also because my husbands birthday happens to fall on the day Christmas is officially over(in Sweden anyways). Gosh I must say we are probably the messiest family I know but then it feels all the nicer when it’s done! I’m not the only one on the island being busy, all the youngsters on Hönö have their hands full. From day after xmas until Easter they are out, mainly boys between 7-25, looking for xmas trees. They ditch school, stay out all night and cycle around every nook and cranny on the islands(well the older one’s have Volvos). Last night I saw a light behind the barn, a car without the lights on and heard some noise so I thought I had to check it out. Of course it was xmas tree gatherers. I told them they are welcome to look around but please close all doors behind you. They were so friendly and helpful that something in the back of my head thought -hmmm maybe they weren’t looking but actually hiding? The next morning I had a look in “veboa”, a small shed behind the barn/gallery where I keep my wood, it was packed with trees! I’m really impressed with their technique, they’ve tied loads of trees together with ropes to fit in a small place. I told them that I would chuck out my tree Friday and they were very grateful. A lot of people think this tradition is a nuisance and should be stopped but I think it’s great. If you’re curious about where the trees end up read my earlier posts The big hunt is on! and You know you live on an Island when. It will be interesting got see how long they’ll stay in Veboa before another team finds them.
Santa turned up!
Lussekatter (typical Swedish buns with saffron)
Preparations have been going on for weeks baking and making pictures to sell. Last weekend we had a xmas market in the gallery and this Saturday it’s time to do it all over again. I baked loads of cakes, biscotti and meringues. My husband made Daal and surprisingly it was a best seller! We had potato and leek for the less adventurous visitors but most people still chose the spicy Indian Daal. For this weekend I’ve baked mini meringues (chocolate, vanilla and liquorice) and some more cake. We will do the Daal and also a tomato soup with focaccia. I’ll be making wet plates of visitors that they can buy if they are happy with the result. This morning I took a break from all preparations and helped out for some charity. Sometimes when you have so much to do your head is spinning it’s nice to just take some time off and do something else, the world will seize to exist. So for two hours I sat counting how many sacks, boxes etc that the second hand shop in the harbour Hönö Klova Second Hand have collected for Rumania. They do this 2-3 times a year but before xmas it’s a bit special. They send off boxes of food that the generous islanders have given, this year 63 food boxes. On top of that sacks of clothes, furniture, beds etc. Everything is named with either the names of the families who will receive it or villages. It’s all very organised and I think it’s good to know that all the help will actually reach the goal. I did feel a bit sorry for everyone carrying everything(while I sat counting), my guess is the average age is above 60 for all of them(hope I don’t offend anyone!). In spite of bad backs, shoulders etc they had after two hours packed a huge trailer with 200 sacks, 120 boxes, 14 beds, a freezer, 3 hospital beds, a wheel chair and a lot more. Very impressive I think!
…the snow never stays very long. It’s all rained away now. You know you live on an island, well especially an island in the northern archipelago in Sweden, when everywhere you go there are bits of Christmas trees and little (and big) boys in overalls biking around day and night. I talked to one of the fishermens’ kids the other day. I’m so curious of the tradition(read more here, The big hunt is on! if you’re curious) and a bit jealous, if I’d grown up on Hönö I would definitely been out chasing trees! So I ask why they all smell like smoke when they come in the shop, maybe there’s some part of the tradition I don’t know about. He says, well we start small fires here and there, mainly around where the big bonfire will be. I ask why? Because it’s fun! (well duh!) And to clear the ground and in spring everything will grow up pretty and green. Apparently they carry on until they get a warning from the fire-department and a threat to outlaw the bonfires, then they lay low for a while until the week before Easter. I also asked how the hunt was going and he said they have about 50-60 trees which is about average but expect they will loose at least half before the bonfire is built. Another perk about living on an island is fresh seafood! The other day my cousin knocked on the door, well he didn’t knock out here they all open the door and shout -hello, anyone home? Two kilos of fresh prawns straight of one of the boats. So now I’ve had prawns everyday in soup, on toast, with pasta and probably half a kilo while I was peeling them…
Such a shame, every year the weather is awful when it’s time for the Christmas market down the harbour. Even though there was apparently loads of people! I had the gallery open again and people braved hailstorms, rain and gale winds to come visit. The first hour I sat there with one of the exhibiting photographers and thought, not one person will come the rest of the day, but I was so wrong. One woman even took the weekend offer and paid to go on a boat from town, then walked from the harbour just to buy one of my pictures! After we closed I took a walk down the harbour, Hönö Klåva, to see the market myself. It was so cosy and nice even with the crappy weather. I bought myself some lovely knitted socks for xmas, for myself. Bought some lottery tickets. I rarely win, usually I make my son choose numbers for me, he is so lucky in games, but the person in front of me won a kilo of prawns! I thought well if I loose the money goes to the island sports clubs so well spent but then I won! Pickled herring, I don’t like herring so actually the hens(I do hope no islanders read my blog or I’m gonna be punished for this) had a lovely meal.
Great xmas tree!
Creator of the alternative xmas tree…
Even the fishing boats look festive!
Crazy hail storm!