Back in September I came across some ridiculously cheap plane tickets to Stockholm, where my brother and his wife are living this year. One of the big advantages of East Coast living is that you can travel really inexpensively to Europe, though admittedly, on carriers and airlines that don’t always seem exactly transatlantic-ready. I convinced James that I should take a dissertation-moon to celebrate completing, and because he’s a supportive saint, he agreed and I booked a solo trip to Sweden for late February. There is no motivation for finishing a massive project like the promise of an international trip… without a toddler. Traveling with Henry last summer was so much fun, but also involved so much work. Traveling by myself? A breeze. Packing for one adult? Did it an hour before leaving. Logistics to consider in advance? Almost none. The flight, even with a layover and the cheapest airline ever with no tvs and not even free water offered? LUXURY.
We didn’t know when we scheduled the trip that it would also morph into a babymoon, a celebration of this moment where things like this feel doable, before a new baby has us trying to find our footing again. There were a lot of moments this pregnancy where I felt like the trip wouldn’t actually happen. When we thought we had miscarried and then I was on pelvic rest, when I was sick constantly, when I couldn’t walk so much as half a block because of crippling sciatic pain- I couldn’t foresee it actually working out. But last month I finally started feeling a little bit better, was cleared for normal activity, and a couple sessions of deep tissue prenatal massage had my sciatic nerve back in line.
And so, off to Stockholm I went!My SIL Liz started texting me pictures of the impossibly tasty looking Swedish buns last fall and operation “buns from the oven for my bun in the oven” took shape. We ate an insane number of Kardemummabullar and Semlor, and I have no regrets. WHY are there not Swedish bakeries in the States? I love French ones, obviously, but Swedish pastries were something else altogether and I see no reason we should limit ourselves. Best hosts ever! I am usually the intense trip planner, but for this trip I got to sit back and let someone else plan and orchestrate everything. Stockholm blew me away. The immaculate streets! The colors! The doors! Maybe it is just that they have to endure so many months of darkness and cold, but the Swedes know how to fill their city with color and warmth. On top of being great hosts, Zach and Liz have the dreamiest little snow globe apartment where we spent our evenings cozied up and catching up on the (most dramatic season yet of the) Bachelor. I really hate to use the overused, pretentious, nausea-inducing catchphrase of Kinfolk-reading bloggers everywhere- but spaces in Stockholm were all so well-curated. Every aspect of the decor felt intentional, a careful minimalism that didn’t feel stark. So many spaces seemed orchestrated around maximizing light, with lots of color and greenery to further warm things up. But whereas this aesthetic comes across as repetitive and unoriginal in the 9 million identical Instagram feeds where I frequently find it, every iteration in Stockholm felt both consistent, and original and natural. Again with the pastries- I want to go back in time and eat them all.Everywhere we went- everywhere- there were open flames. None of this hiding candles under a bushel- NO. All the flames burning freely in all the places, making everything feel extra cozy.That’s it- next winter I am really going to embrace plants. It just conteracts the winter gloom so well!Cozy sweaters and hearty grain bowls- a Swedish morning must!I couldn’t have told you anything about Swedish food before going, beyond of course, what I have gleaned from the Ikea cafeteria. But I was blown away by all the simple and fresh meals, hearty foods, and dreamy sauces. I’m still thinking about a parmesan cream sauce we had one night at dinner.One day Liz and I went to go visit Prince Eugen’s house, and following a visit to the museum, we trekked off into the snowy woods where Liz promised we would find a greenhouse full of tasty soup and bread. I was skeptical. The paths weren’t marked, the snow was intense, and there wasn’t exactly a lot of civilization around. But then we came around a hedgerow and saw this magical sight:And inside-Tables laden with candles and flowers and cake! Baskets of unlimited bread and butter! Toast spread with creamy cheese and bright veggies! Cats curled up on chairs and cozy blankets! Chandeliers hung with candles! Wood burning stoves! MORE CAKE. Oh, and the promised soup, which was hearty and warmed the very core of my soul. I was only in Stockholm for three days, but we packed so much cozy exploring into that time. Beyond thankful for James who held down the fort at home, and Zach and Liz who made the trip so wonderful!