Sunday, November 29, 2015

A Trip to Sweden and a Family Thanksgiving Feast

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Another whirlwind couple of weeks. Something tells me it's going to be like this through the holidays. I'm not complaining, I enjoy a bit of intensity and chaos. That is, as long as it's of the fun type and balanced with relaxation and calm too.

One of the big things happening here is that I took a trip to Sweden! Mr M had a business trip and invited me along for a portion of it. Two Thursdays back I flew to meet him in Copenhagen. They served dinner on the flight, Chicken Tikka Masala with rice. I took the croutons off the salad, skipped the dressing, and had only a few bites of the cheesecake dessert. I did eat the dinner roll and butter and saved the cheese and crackers for later. The meal was actually pretty good.

After dinner I took a couple Advil PMs and managed to get a good chunk of sleep. I woke up to a scene of what looked like tundra landscape out the window.

I arrived in Copenhagen Friday morning, met up with M and then we flew together to Stockholm.

I've been to Europe, but not since my 20's and never to any of the Nordic countries. We arrived in Stockholm in the late afternoon and it was already dark - 2pm feels like dusk and by 4pm it's completely dark out. That, coupled with the time change (Sweden is 9 hours ahead of California), threw me for a bit of a loop, but I rolled with it.

That night we walked around the Old Town portion of Stockholm.

And had dinner at a restaurant that served classic Swedish dishes.

We shared two appetizers, one of various fish items, the other a Swedish version of beef carpaccio.

For an entree I had reindeer with a sauce that included lingonberries, served with a gratin-style potato on the side. I couldn't really distinguish the meat from beef, very similar taste.

I have this goal of losing the few pounds I've gained but I accepted that I couldn't easily track or eat in a particularly "clean" style while sampling the local fair. But I did what I could here-and-there, such as avoiding the huge (and quite lovely) basket of bread and crackers with fresh butter that the Swedish seem to serve with every meal. And when it made sense I ordered food that seemed to balance a healthy diet along with enjoying the local cuisine.

Saturday morning was our first opportunity to see the sights in daylight. We spent the weekend walking around Old Town as well as visiting some of the other sights.

A selfie in Stockholm
Our activities included a museum based around an old warship, the Vasa, that sunk in 1628 and was raised in 1961. The ship has a sort-of funny history in that it was a very expensive symbol of national pride and military dominance (for what was a very poor country at the time) but never even made it out of the harbor and sunk entirely within 30 minutes of launching.

The Vasa
The museum is fascinating - the salvaged ship and her contents are now letting the Vasa have its glory, the glory it didn't have back in the 1600's. We also listened to a Mozart concert in the Great Church, Storkyrkan, which was built in 1306. Classical music is so dreamy.

Speaking of music, one night we happened upon a Swedish band from the 70's, Das Vag, who were having a bit of a reunion show. The place was PACKED and we enjoyed a big dose of dancing and beer while listening to some great rock songs we couln't understand. So fun!! Dinner that night was super-indulgent but hopefully all the dancing helped balance things out.

Lunch one afternoon was seared salmon with beets and other goodies, potatoes on the side. I had the lemon buerre blanc sauce on the side and enjoyed the meal without hardly any of it.

a view of Stockholm from Skeppsholmen, the island where our hotel was.
Ice skating in downtown Stockholm.
Did I mention how cold it was? By my California standards anyway...mid 20's during the day. Brr. We managed to squeeze in a lot of sightseeing and fun-having in the four days I was there, I'll close out my trip-telling with a few favorite pictures, in no particular order.

At the Christmas market in Old Town
Another pic of the market
a typical Swedish "fika" - afternoon coffee and treat
Of course, Swedish meatballs
Cafeteria fair at the Vasa museum
walking around town at night. Love that dramatic sky.
Touring the Royal Palace
Another at the Royal Palace
Having an afternoon glass of Glogg in a Swedish cafe
I never made it to the hotel gym while I was there but I did manage to get in plenty of walking, despite the cold temps. On Monday while M was working I walked all over town exploring and picking up chocolate treats to bring home to the kids and friends and family.

We arrived home on Wednesday and I couldn't wait to see my kidlets! I was away from them a week. We talked every day but that didn't keep me from missing them like crazy. We had a nice dinner together, soaking up the love.

Thursday morning, Thanksgiving, I made pancakes for the kids and we enjoyed a lovely lazy morning at home. I also worked on a chocolate cake to take to my mom's house.

We all headed to my mom's in the late afternoon for our family Thanksgiving dinner. Sadly I didn't take any pictures, but the table and meal were just perfect. My mom is a great cook and I indulged in some of everything. I definitely overate, that's so easy to do on Thanksgiving. The family time was much needed after being away. Oh, the chocolate cake turned out really good. I could have cooked it maybe 1-2 two minutes less because it crumbled a bit when I cut it, but the flavor and density were lovely.

As to leftovers, my mom sent me home with a pumpkin pie and a HUGE plate of turkey. Uh oh, I can't keep that stuff around. I passed the pumpkin pie on to Miguel so he and the kids could enjoy it and also gave him half the turkey. I kept the white meat to make soup.

I worked on Friday and then came up to Tahoe with M for the weekend. Because of the trip my schedule with the kids is unusual this month - I spent more time with them the first half of the month and now less the second half. We're missing each other a lot, but I'm thankful for Facetime and phone calls to bridge the distance.

Lake Tahoe
As to my weight, when I got back from Sweden I was 151.4 pounds. Better than I expected but still 1.4 pounds over my "sound the alarm!" weight and 6.4 pounds over my comfortable weight of 145 pounds. It's not easy to eat clean this time of year so I'm taking my own advice and focusing on maintaining my weight at the moment.

For lunch yesterday I had a Ranchero salad with sliced beef, black beans, jalapenos, and pico de gallo. I had them leave off the dressing and I didn't miss it at all.

Last night we met up with some of M's friends for a beer (I actually had a beer and a martini) and chicken wings. I figured a martini has less calories than a second beer, though I'm not sure my math is right. Anyway, later for dinner I cooked a turkey/vegetable soup. M is Italian and likes to have bread a lot. And cheese, olives, dried meats and wine. Oh dear. I'm trying to resist all those little delights but it's not easy and I had a bit last night with my soup.

Today is on track - Kashi GoLean with almond milk for breakfast. I just had a snack of Fage greek yogurt with apples and bananas,which might actually be lunch. As soon as I'm done here we're headed to the gym. It will be nice to work out, it's been quite a while since I've done an actual workout.

I get a little nervous sometimes thinking about how little exercise I've gotten in recent months. I know I'm way out of shape by my own standards. But I'm signed up for a half-marathon in April, which will nudge me. More importantly, I know I enjoy exercise and really want to be fit and able to continue adventuring. If I maintain this lack-of-exercise thing I'll suffer energy-wise and my drive to get out there will dwindle. Can't have that, don't want that. I still have lots of life to live, tons of adventures to go on with the kiddos, and many miles of trails, triathlons, sightseeing, and all the rest to see and do. I have to want to stay in shape or I won't be able to keep up with my dreams.

Speaking of dreams...I think I mentioned something happening with Weight's VERY exciting. I can hardly believe it! I don't know how much I should say so for now, let's just say if you follow Weight Watchers you'll be seeing more of me before too long. Ack! I'm so nervous, my adrenaline is ramping up just typing this. Wish me luck!


  1. What a lovely post, I went to Stockholm for the Christmas markets last year and it was magical - my favourite place. Such lovely people, food and (not sure if it was too early) Christmas decorations. The Swedes are so stylish! Glad you had a good time :-)

    1. Thank you Bonnie! You're right, the food, people and atmosphere were just amazing! And I love their style too, so clean and refreshing.

  2. Sounds like you are doing well. You are over your 'sound the alarm' and 'comfortable weights but for traveling and holidays you are doing GREAT! Keep it up!

    1. Thanks Mary Fran, what you said is what I keep telling myself. No good comes of beating myself up at a time like this. Hope you're doing well also :)

  3. This is awesome. How exciting!! I am struggling with snacking right now and my weight is up too! I think I'm going to reread Beck Diet and try to get back on that bandwagon. Anyway, glad you are back to blogging. I get inspiration from you!!

    1. Thank you Andrea! I get inspired by writing too.


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