September 13, 2014

She's a Traveling Girl

She's made a lot of stops all over the world,
And in every part I own the heart,                 
Of at least one lovely girl.                               

I've taken some liberties with Ricky Nelson's 'Travelin' Man' lyrics, but it's true. This little girl has been so many places in the past 10 months!
Dallas, Texas - December 2013
Maastricht, The Netherlands - January 2014
Gothenburg, Sweden - March 2014
Giverny, France  - April 2014
Fontainebleau, France - April 2014
Paris, France -twice - April and May 2014
Badenweiler, Germany - April 2014
Village-Neuf, France and Basel, Switzerland - April 2014
Madrid, Spain - June 2014
London, England - July 2014
Rattvik, Sweden - July 2014
Come on, baby! Oh, the places we'll go!

September 11, 2014

Taking Stock

This list was making the rounds on blogs a few months ago. I thought it was neat, and thought I would play along. A lot of the answers are the same... just wanted to make sure I accurately captured the moment and what is on my mind these hours.
Jon's delicious meal for us tonight. Compliments to the chef!
Making : the baby’s mobile

Cooking : egg sandwiches for lunch

Drinking : lots of of water

Reading : the latest issue of Flow International.

Wanting : this baby to come soon

Looking : into getting some paperwork from Belgium

Playing : Words with Friends and Solitaire on my iPhone

Wasting : an enormous amount of time this way

Sewing : nothing at the moment

Wishing : this baby would come soon!

Enjoying : having my loving in-laws here

Waiting : for Jon to finish cooking dinner for us

Liking : this awesome weather in Göteborg

Wondering : if drinking a cup of raspberry leaf tea will do the trick?

Lovingthis cute stuffed animal I saw in Haga today.

Hoping : this baby comes soon!

Marvelling : at my body and this baby still growing inside.

Needing : a pedicure in a major way.

Smelling : fresh lemons from the kitchen.

Wearing : non-maternity clothes - yoga pants, tank top and a comfy shall style cardigan.

Following : my friends on Facebook and Instagram.

Noticing : the days getting shorter.

Knowing : this baby has to come out eventually.

Thinking : this baby has to come out eventually.

Feeling : grateful for family and friends, near and far.

Listening : to  Rock the Boat by the Hues Corporation. (This song was in my head when I woke up this morning?)  

Opening : the door to the washing machine - more tiny clothes to wash!

Giggling : at funny stories of when Jon was a baby.

Feeling : happy today.

List source, here.

September 10, 2014

The Tenth

Jon and I have two wedding dates that we celebrate - February 29th and June 10th. Our civil ceremony occurred on the 29th of February, 2012, and our wedding celebration occurred on June 10th, 2012. For obvious reasons, we celebrate our June 10th wedding anniversary every year. This year we celebrated two years of wedded bliss - though it seems like a lifetime... and I mean that in the very best way possible. I can't imagine life without or before Jon.

The traditional gift for the second anniversary is cotton, and this year I wanted to make a handmade gift. This year was a bit special because we have a baby on the way. By some twist of fate my homemade 'cotton' gift for Jon was really for the baby, and Jon's gift to me was a very cute cotton dress - also for the baby. I guess a baby does change everything.

I first visited Göteborg this past March, when Jon started his PhD program. I spent 10 days, getting to know the city and country. One thing that I knew I wanted to do was visit an IKEA. I wanted to see if it was different to visit an IKEA in its' homeland.
As it turns out, it was the same, same, same. With the exception of the desserts in the cafeteria - there's a much bigger selection here, and the meatballs - no Swedish flags on the plates, oh! and the fabric selection - slightly bigger than any other IKEAs I've been to in the United States or Belgium.
I picked up two packs of FINURLIG, basically a package of 50 pre-cut squares of scrap fabric for 29 kroner (about 4 US dollars). I chose a pack with a predominate colour scheme of black and white, which I hear is really good for newborn baby's development. Then, I returned to Belgium and promptly forgot about it all. By the time June rolled around, I was feeling the pressure to make a gift for our anniversary and also to get the house packed up. I thought a quilt would make a perfect gift for our 2nd cotton anniversary. My only problem was that I had never made a quilt before. How hard could it be?
It wasn't that hard, because I didn't expect it to be perfect and I made the most simple quilt I could. I figured out some kinks in my IKEA sewing machine, and just kind of went with it. I carefully placed the pieces where I wanted them and sewed horizontal rows. After the rows were finished, I pressed the seams open and tried my best to match them as I sewed the rows together to create the quilt top. I bought batting and sandwiched it between the quilt top and the boldest polka-dot fabric I could find at IKEA to keep the design and fabric weight consistent. Finally, I sewed the bias tape along the edges by machine, and then tacked each square corner with a brightly coloured thread. 

Et voilà: an 2nd anniversary quilt for the baby.
From start to finish this quilt took a total of three days, but there was one more touch I wanted to add... the date. 
June 10th, 2014

This date is now embroidered on my baby's quilt. It's the date of our second wedding anniversary. It's also the day my brother Daniel suffered a brain aneurysm, from which he died three days later. 

Today, my baby girl is 11 days past her due date. It's been three months to the day since Daniel's aneurysm occurred. I'm feeling fine physically, but emotionally... that's another story. This has been the most painful and difficult experience of my life. The impending dates of the 10th and the 13th are a trigger for me, and these past few days I have felt more sad and lonely than I have since Daniel's death. It could be the extra hormones,  the anxious anticipation of my baby's birth, I don't know. What I do know is the sadness I feel. 

I am sad that our daughter won't know how awesome her uncle was.
I am sad that he isn't here to make me laugh or check up on me, like I know he would. 
I am sad that he isn't here for this major event in our lives.
I am sad for the void that I feel, the extreme sense of loss. 

I was hoping that our daughter would be born by now to take the pain of the 10th away. Maybe she will be born on the 13th? Any day would be a good day. We are patiently waiting for her, as she will bring so much love and light to our family. 

September 9, 2014

Our Adorable Attic Apartment in Leuven

I thought I would share some pictures of our last apartment in Leuven. It was so charming and cute. It was a two story attic space in a building that had been constructed in the 1720's. What I will remember most about that apartment is the way it would rattle when a big delivery truck would drive through the narrow cobble stone street it faced. Our apartment was in the middle of Leuven, literally in het hart van de stad, in the heart of the city. We lived next door to a grocery store which was very convenient. Convenient and expensive, I might add. The ground floor of our building was a private medical practice, another convenience - especially during my pregnancy. My doctors were my neighbours and they were so kind and thoughtful.
Here are some photos of this really unique space. Most of these photos are panoramas taken by Jon.
This was our main living space, the space that we walked into when we entered the apartment. The beams are original to the building and were held together with wooden pegs. It frames the original roof of the building, but has now been extended. Everything else to the right side of the beams was added to the building at a later date. Our apartment came furnished except for a few pieces, which we sold before moving to Sweden. This is the view from behind the futon.
One would think that an attic space wouldn't get so much light during the day, but it was never too dark - even in the winter.
This is a more realistic shot of the space. The kitchen is directly behind the futon. The stairs lead up to the guest loft and deck. The door to the immediate left of the futon is the door to the toilet and shower. (During my time in Europe, I've learned not to say bathroom especially when there is no bath involved.) And, the door that is behind the beam to the left is a tiny little entry way (that did not get photographed), where we kept our umbrellas, jackets and cycling stuff.
This is a view of our kitchen. Because Leuven is a student town, most apartments don't come with an oven or a full-size refrigerator. We purchased the combi-oven (microwave and convection oven) when we moved in and it literally changed my life. We made our first Thanksgiving dinner in that oven and I baked numerous cupcakes and quiches. It was awesome and we have it here with us in Sweden. The full-size fridge with a freezer was a bonus too, though it's pretty small compared to US standards.
This is the view from the bar/prep area in the kitchen. We had just had a party the weekend before and the orange and yellow pom-poms were part of our festive decor. The stairs were pretty steep and there was only the thin railing that led up to the guest loft/office upstairs.
I loved hosting guests and it was so nice to provide a private space for them. Jon would often work up here taking advantage of the huge window and sunlight that streamed in. In front of the desk is a door which leads to the pièce de résistance - la terrasse. 
What a view! We didn't enjoy it as much as we should have, but we did manage to have drinks out there a few times and even dinners outside. The best was when the church bells would chime and the almost weekly carillon concerts. We were able to see fireworks, but one of the best experiences was listening to the wave of voices and cheers the first night that Belgian won a World Cup game. I've never heard anything like it. It was intense!
This is our 'bathroom' which is so spacious, especially in comparison to our bathroom now. It only had a shower, another feature typical of most apartments in Leuven. I loved the black and white décor and also those glass shelves next to the toilet. 
Finally, the last room, my favourite room - my bedroom. It was so light and airy, and my bed was so comfy. I absolutely loved it and spent many lazy mornings there. Our bed was huge for European standards, and the built in wardrobes were awesome. We had three, a total luxury that we took full advantage of. The shelf system on the right provided tons of storage - which is a blessing and a curse, especially if one is a paper hoarder like me. 

That was apartment living in Leuven for 2013 - 2014! 

September 8, 2014

Baby's Blanket: A Colour Story

This summer I knit a baby blanket. It came out a lot longer than I planned. I used every inch of each colour yarn and just kind of let it be. I used this pattern, and this colour scheme for my inspiration. Thankfully it goes great in the baby's room. 
As I was knitting this blanket, I took photos and shared them on my Instagram account. It took me longer than I thought to knit the blanket, but that's because we had such an eventful summer. I'm glad I took the time to document my progress, as each colour now tells a story.

May 28th, 2014
I must have started the blanket this day. I was probably sitting on the couch in my Leuven apartment, watching television. I tried to get my baby bump in the photo. Jon had just returned to Leuven to move us to Sweden. I started with red. I don't know why. While I was knitting it, I was reminded of the crocheted bedspreads my grandmother made for my older brothers. Red for one brother, blue for the other. 
 May 29th, 2014
This was Ascension Day, a holiday in Belgium. We had friends fly in from Peru on their way home to Rotterdam. We lived close to Brussels International Airport so they stayed with us and visited for the day. They were jet lagged, so Jon and I went upstairs to enjoy the sunshine on the deck while they napped. We made dinner together, and said Tot ziens! (See you later!) Considering that I had just started the blanket the day before, I'd say I was pretty fast! My second colour choice was navy blue. I kept the darker colours closer together and it just seemed like a natural progression after being reminded of the bed spreads that my grandmother had made.

June 3rd, 2014
I cast on this colour thinking that I would fly through it like I did the other two colours, but I had no idea that this colour of avocado green would knit up through one the most tragic events of my life. My beautiful friend and brother Daniel passed away suddenly during this time. It was unexpected and is still very new for me to process, even today. I was in Spain while all of this transpired and as the events unfolded I would knit and pray, knit and pray, knit and pray, repeat. Knitting simple stitches like this garter stitch keeps my hands busy, it became a kind of meditation. 

June 27th, 2014
This was an epic day. Not only did I start the fourth colour of my blanket, but we also placed all our belongings on a moving van to Sweden. Jon worked so hard to pack and load everything for our move, while I felt like a useless lump of a lady. My last doctor's appointment also happened on this day. It was a dreary rainy day in Belgium that day, so it seems fitting that the colour that I started on this day was grey. 
July 5th, 2014
Our first full day in our new home in Göteborg. As you can see, I wasted no time settling in a comfy spot on the sofa. We watched Belgium lose to Argentina in the World Cup Games. I thought it was a good omen that I was knitting with a colour from the Belgian flag. Turns out yellow is also in the Argentinian flag. 
July 8th, 2014
Same view, different colour: Aqua. 
World Cup was on again and we watched Germany clobber Brazil. I couldn't believe it, I know the neighbours heard me laughing in disbelief! I thought it was a replay, but actually Germany kept scoring against Brazil.

July 15th, 2014
This shade of orange also reminded me of my brother Daniel. It is the school colour of the University of Texas at Austin, the alma matter of both of my older brothers and Jon.

July 22nd, 2014
I saved the best colour for last: hot pink! I was trying to stay away from pink while knitting this blanket, but decided to add it at the last minute. I'm glad I did. It was exceptionally hot in Göteborg this summer, a few locals have mentioned that to me. My feet were really swollen and to find some relief I would put my feet up and knit while watching a few series on Netflix. I watched House of Cards and Call the Midwife. I really enjoyed both shows, but prefer Call the Midwife because I love period drama and particularly historical non-fiction. I only mention this because this is what I think of when I look at that hot pink colour at the end.

July 12th, 2014
Seems fitting to end this post with this photo because this is the view from the balcony, just outside the spot on the sofa where I sat while knitting. This photo was taken at 22:15, or 10:15 in the evening. These beautiful colours remind me of my baby's blanket, they remind me of the summer, they remind me of the events and memories of this season almost gone. They remind me that I am ready for something new.  

September 7, 2014

A New Start - 365 Photos: Days 1 - 7

Ok - I'm picking up the daily photo project again because I feel like this is something that I can keep up with once the baby is born. The first two photos were shared on my Instagram account, but I hope to avoid double posting in the future.
Day 1: Monday, September 1
Morotskaka (carrot cake) from this recipe by Smitten Kitchen, which I highly recommend. 
Day 2: Tuesday, September 2
A lovely day to run errands, so I ran to The English Shop near the Prinsgatan tram stop for some Branston Pickle.
Day 3: Wednesday, September 3
As I was taking pictures of the nursery, I decided to take a picture of the baby's closet.
Day 4: Thursday, September 4
Midwife appointment. This is my view in the waiting room.
Day 5: Friday, September 5
Jon took this panorama while we were drinking tea in Haga. 
Day 6: Saturday, September 6
41 weeks... That's all I have to say about this.
Day 7: Sunday, September 7
It's not much to look at, but this is a delicious hot dog and it was tonight's dinner. 

September 5, 2014

Sharing Experiences from Today

No baby yet which means we were able to take care of some business today, and for that I am thankful. I'm also thankful for the amazing lie-in that I had this morning - until 11! Thankful again that I haven't had any trouble sleeping this last trimester, which I hear can be bothersome for some women.

Today's weather was lovely: sunny and 70s! I started to read this book, and so far so good! I didn't have a post in mind for today, but knew that I wanted to blog to keep the momentum going. So, I'm taking a note from the pages of this book - I just thought I would show up and share some experiences from today.
Enjoying some tea and waiting for a doctor's appointment in Haga.
There are food trucks here in Göteborg! Jon spied this burger truck the other day. It's pretty popular with the hip crowd. 
The burger was delicious - nice and juicy, topped with bacon, roasted tomatoes, grilled onions, but the best part was the brioche bun. So good! Jon sure does know the way to my heart and I am so glad we filled up on burgers for lunch because we were out and about for 9 hours today! I haven't had a day like this in a long time. Maybe this will be what it takes to get baby moving? We'll see...

We went to the bank, tried to obtain a Swedish ID card, got a hair cut, saw the doctor, and then we took a commuter train to pick up some cloth diaper supplies in another town south of Göteborg. 
"Watch our kids. Drive slowly." 
What a day! It was fun.