School Break – I’m Totally Sleeping IN

Happy Monday!

I slept in today because my kids have a midterm break from school.

By slept in, I mean 7 a.m. My dumb internal alarm clock cannot pretend it is a teenager.

Oh, and by internal alarm clock, I mean bladder.

I really think I’ve got this “aging gracefully” thing down.

I think I enjoy a week without homework and packing lunches as much, maybe even more, than my kids do! Not even exaggerating.

All that to say, I’m taking the week off from blogging to spend time with the kiddos.

We’re going to hang out with friends and explore more of Ireland. Follow me on Instagram to see where our adventures take us! Or don’t and I’ll probably tell you about it later.

I hope we’ll add a few new happy memories to our memory bank.

See you next week!

P.S. In the last picture, that’s the Irish Sea just below the clouds, not the sky. Our kids are pointing south toward a town called Bray. They are getting pretty good at identifying where everything is located on this little island we call home.

Happy List #14

Hello, hello!

This week felt a little long to me, so I’m all about the TGIF today.

Earlier this week I took you on a tour of my local grocery store in Ireland and showcased some of my favorite food items for your viewing pleasure. In honor of Valentine’s Day and all of you who make my world a happier place, I also shared two free love printables.

Here’s what’s on my Happy List this week.


Girl Scout Gum?

Someone makes Girl Scouts Gum now. I read somewhere that the gum holds its flavor for an hour. An hour? Really? What can’t those Girl Scouts do?

I haven’t tried it though. If you’ve tried it, let me know if it lives up to the hype!


Giant Connect 4

The Home Depot Blog shares step-by-step instructions (including cut lists) on how to make your own Connect 4 game.

How cool would this be for backyard BBQs, summer camps or family reunions?

(image source)


Ottoman DIY

I thought this was a clever reuse for a wood electrical spool. While it seems like a lot of work, it might be worth it if you got the spool for free or dirt cheap. At least that would save you the cost and time of cutting the round plywood pieces.

Learn more, including step-by-step directions at Infarrantly Creative.


Cosmic Kids Yoga

Guys. I think I’m late to the game on these yoga videos for kids, but I’m glad I eventually showed up!

Lately, before or after our nightly story time, my kids have been doing one of the Cosmic Kids Yoga videos on YouTube. The lady leading the videos is a heck of a storyteller and each yoga move correlates to a part of the story. There’s LOTS of movement, so it is good for little ones with short attention spans. While I’d say the videos are mainly geared for younger children, my 9-year-old seems to enjoy them so far too.

Last night my 6-year-old watched one where she talked about your “attention” as a muscle. The more you train your “attention,” the stronger it gets. I liked how she didn’t present a short attention span as a bad thing, but as another part of our body we can grow and improve.


Origami Hearts

Did you see this on Facebook? Love Matters shared this post about an anonymous student at Troy High School in Ohio who spent over 5 months making origami hearts for every person in the high school.

Valentine’s Day can be hard for anyone, but especially teenagers who are dealing with all of the teenage hormone stuff. I love that every single student was included in this gesture. There’s hope for the world!

(image via)


Cookies

If you’re looking for an awesome Sugar Cookie recipe, I tried this one on AllRecipes.com this week. “Best cookie ever” was the response from the students at my children’s school. I’d take that endorsement with a grain of salt, but they were tasty – especially with chocolate drizzled on top.

I did follow the recommendations from the reviewers on how to add more flavor to the recipe.


Scrap Wood Bunny

This is something I might make if we hadn’t sold all of our tools.

Note to self: buy a saw.
Other note to self: find out where they sell saws in Ireland.
Other, other note to self: see if they can deliver it to my door.

Read all about the how-to at My Recipe Confessions.


Galvanized Metal Clock

There were a bunch of gems in the most recent issue of Country Living.

I need someone to make me this galvanized metal clock because, you know, TOOLS!

I also like the rooster. And the ladder. And the plant stand. All of it. I like all of it.


That’s it for this week, folks! I hope you have a fantastic weekend. Go out and spread some happiness and cheer!

Living in Ireland: Grocery Shopping

I don’t want to brag (or do I?), but I feel like quite the pro when it comes to procuring groceries for our family sans automobile.

(If you’re new here: We moved to Ireland from the USA. We haven’t tried driving here – yet. Public transportation and walking for the win!)

Grocery shopping without a vehicle requires a bit of planning. For instance, I don’t want to purchase all the heavy stuff in one trip because I have to carry it home in a backpack or reusable shopping bag.

More or less, I’m purchasing what we will consume that day or the next. No bulk shopping here. A jumbo pack of toilet paper is AWESOME – except when you have to haul it a mile down the street. It becomes awkward. On so many levels.

Today I want to take you on a virtual shopping trip of my local grocery store. By and large, the store’s presentation is similar to what you’d see at your local Safeway, Kroger or Walmart.

The differences are in the details.

For instance, this section of the meat case is devoted entirely to lamb. I’d say lamb meat is much more prevalent in Ireland than in the United States. They must not sing Mary Had a Little Lamb as kids.

(The dollar and the euro are getting close to 1:1, if that helps you decide what the prices mean. )


The Irish also LOVE their pork.

This is an entire section devoted to “rashers” or bacon. (There’s another 10-foot section for other cuts of pork out of camera frame.)

These types of rashers are what I would equate to super thinly sliced boneless pork chops. They taste great, but they aren’t bacon. If you want American-style bacon you need to purchase streaky rashers. That will be closer, but they still don’t crisp up quite the same.

Then there’s a special sort of Irish meat: black and white pudding.

Calling it meat might be over-selling it.

Black pudding is a type of blood sausage. It’s made with pork blood, fat and oatmeal. There might be a few other ingredients in there, but I think we can stop with blood.

I had the pleasure of eating black pudding at Christmas dinner and I actually enjoyed it. It was prepared in such a way that it was a little crispy and quite flavorful – not at all off-putting. I’m not sure I’d go out-of-my-way to order it at a restaurant though.

White pudding is pretty much the same as black pudding, but without the blood. Oh, yay.


Let’s move on to the condiment aisle.

Need some salad dressing? How about salad cream?

I just haven’t been able to bring myself to try it yet…should I?

I’ve been making this easy berry balsamic recipe at home instead.


Interestingly enough, ranch-flavored salad dressing is not a thing in Ireland. There are garlic and herb dressings, but if you’ve grown up with American-style ranch dressing you will know it’s not the same. The ONE brand of ranch dressing I’ve found here comes from the USA and it is Newman’s Own brand.

Moving on to soups, I haven’t tried this doozy.

Oxtail soup.

But it was on sale!

I should have gone for it.


Bread is pretty inexpensive in Ireland.

I’m not sure why that is, other than bakeries are very common. The Irish seem to prefer bread and pastries over crackers for snacks. Crackers aren’t that prevalent. This has been hard for my kids to get used to. I think my son survived on crackers and grapes for an entire year once…or so it seemed. Those toddler years are a bit of a blur.

Barmbrack is a sort of sweet bread – usually with raisins and sultanas inside.

I think I’ve mentioned waffles before on the blog. Waffles and pancakes are sold on-the-shelf. Much to my children’s dismay, they cannot get blueberry freezer waffles here. They can’t get any frozen waffles. Perhaps I should break down and purchase a waffle maker?

I’m sure it’s becoming apparent to you that my children have highly refined tastebuds.

I will leave you with one final picture.

It’s of another product that I cannot bring myself to try. At least not yet.

I think it’s something to do with the name.


Have you tried mushy peas? Did they make your tastebuds so happy you bought the value pack? Mushy peas are served a lot in restaurants in Ireland, so it’s quite the normal thing around these parts.

Well, this concludes today’s virtual shopping trip. Let me know what other things you are curious about in Ireland. I’d be happy to share more of life in this great country with you through my expat lens.

Sending Love Your Way

Have you ever noticed Valentine’s Day is quite polarizing? Depending on life situations, people either love the holiday or want to kick it to the curb.

Since the 14th century Valentine’s Day has been associated with romantic love and romantic love is fabulous. Handy Husband and I celebrated 18 years of marriage a few days ago, so I have a deep appreciation for all things romance.

I also have an even deeper appreciation for all things beginning and ending with “Honey, I’ll do the dishes.”


But let’s not talk about me.

What I want to say on this Valentine’s Day Eve in the mushiest way I know how is THANK YOU.

Thank you to each and every one of you who reads the drivel that I write on this blog. Thank you for showing up, for liking things, for commenting, for sharing, for just being fabulously you.

Whether or not our paths ever cross, we’re all on this human journey together.

Thank you for filling up my bucket with encouragement time after time.

I hope I can return the favor someday.


As you go about your day, I encourage you to step back and view your outlook on those around you, those on social media, those in your community, those you have never even met through the lens of love.

The world could certainly use more love today. Don’t you think?

Happy Valentine’s Day.


P.S. If you want to download the “all you need is love” 5×7 print, click here. If you want to download the “what the world needs now” 5×7 print, click here.

P.P.S. If you aren’t familiar with the “fill your bucket” reference, read this children’s book.

P.P.S.S. This version of What the World Needs Now sung by Sara Bareilles is beautiful.

 

 

Happy List #13

It’s your lucky day, folks. I’ve got some doozies on the Happy List to share.

But first, earlier this week I shared how I got distracted and learned that 1960s wood paneling can actually look pretty decent. Continuing with my “living in Ireland” series, I also shared pictures of my hot press. It was so not hot.

Here we go…


Copper Roof on a Farmhouse

I have followed Joan’s blog for quite awhile. She’s living my dream of renovating an old farmhouse and converting a barn into part of her home. You should really dive into her story.

I am loving the new addition to her farmhouse, a copper roof over the porch.

Check it our here on For The Love Of A House.

(Image via For The Love Of A House)


If You Need a Laugh Today

I loved this compilation of times when kids “were too pure for this world.”

You have to click through and read about turning over a new leaf. It cracked me up.

(Image: nonsensekidssay.tumblr.com)


Drones

I have this dream that Amazon can deliver my orders via drone in less than hour. Or that when I forget to return the kids’ library books I can just send them back via a drone.

It would be really cool if a drone could walk my kids to school when it is rainy and windy too, but that would make me seem like a lousy parent. Soooo, let’s forget about that idea.

Anyway, I thought it was really neat to see how drones were used in Lady Gaga’s Super Bowl Halftime Show.

Read all about it on Wired.com. (Image via Intel)


Boot Love

On Wednesday I mentioned the boots I had my eye on were on sale. They are the Sorel Major Low Leather Boot. This is my second pair of boots in this style and I can’t tell you how much I love them. Major love fest. It takes a couple of wears to break them in, but after that, you’re golden. These boots are resistant to light rainfall, which is definitely a high priority for my current country of residence. I find these boots are well worth the price given that I can comfortably walk 10 miles per day in them, which I did on our recent visits to Sweden and Denmark.

Check them out on the Sorel website or on Amazon.


Outdoor Fireplaces

This fireplace shown in the March 2017 issue of Country Living looks like it is technically semi-outdoor, but I still wouldn’t mind sitting there.

Anyone else have dreams of an outdoor living space?

I also have dreams of summer, but hey, February is great too.


Free Krispy Kreme

Just because I don’t live in the U.S. any longer it doesn’t mean I don’t have your back when it comes to doughnuts. Delicious, sugary goodness that goes straight to your hips. I feel guilty even thinking talking about doughnuts.

But that’s not going to stop me from sharing this tidbit. Now through February 28, if you buy a cup of coffee at Krispy Kreme you get a free glazed doughnut. It’s part of their promotion to introduce their new coffee brews.

(Image via Krispy Kreme)


Felt Craft

People. My two favorite things, felt and Liquid Stitch, are featured in this easy DIY.

If I had a toddler, I’d be all over this craft. Instead, I have one child who has developed strong opinions about what she wears and another child who has developed strong opinions about not wearing clothes at all. Parenting is not for wusses.

Read more about this cute DIY on the Alice and Lois site.


Happy Friday, folks! If you have Valentine’s plans this weekend, I wish you a fantastic time. Spread the love!

1960s Wood Paneling That Looks Good

There’s a bookcase in my house that bugs the crud out of me. Really bugs me. I have to make it look good without changing the root of the problem. I’m still not sure how to do that, so I decided to dive into the black hole of inspiration commonly known as the Internet. While there, I got a little distracted…

But those boots I’ve been eyeing were finally on sale!

Then I stumbled on a new-to-me blog, Bigger Than The Three Of Us, and ran across a picture of blogger Ashley’s playroom/office.

Two things made me pause in my scroll.
1) She has a wood bookcase similar to the one that bugs me to pieces. (YAY! Back on topic.)
2) 1960/1970s faux wood paneling never looked so good. (Oops. Distracted again.)

I have owned a house with some of this wood paneling. It was lovely. (sarcasm alert)

I’m pretty sure paint companies can attribute a significant amount of their success in the last 10 years to homeowners painting over wood paneling. Am I right?

I was one of those homeowners!


The blogger admits this isn’t her “forever” look for this room, but it works for her family right now. I think she’s done an amazing job of embracing the home she has and making it work for her family’s style. Plus, those office chairs are pretty cool.

Not from Ashley’s house, but here’s another example of 1970s wood paneling that looks good. It’s not my style, but it works for the space in a retro meets modern sort of way.

Waverley Street

Photo by Klopper and Davis ArchitectsDiscover midcentury entrance design inspiration

Now, I am a fan of 21st century wood accent walls, like this one below.

And those doors give me all the warm fuzzies.

(image source)

But if your home is more time capsule than modern, never fear.

You might have to get rid of the shag carpet, but with the right accessories, wood paneling can look pretty darn inviting.

At least, it does in Ashley’s house…

By the way, I really need to get some houseplants. Oops. Distracted again. Pretty pictures and happy spaces do that to me.

P.S. Be sure and visit Bigger Than The Three Of Us to read more about wood paneling in her office/playroom and to see other really cool makeovers.

Living in Ireland: Want to See My Hot Press?

Moving to a foreign country – even one where you speak the language – is a humbling experience.

My advice? Settle into the feeling that you are going to be the biggest idiot in the room. A little humor and humility go a long way toward settling in.

When we were looking for house in Ireland we toured an owner-occupied home they were putting on the rental market. During the tour the owner made a passing reference to the hot press.

“I’m sorry. A hot what?”

In hindsight, my question probably did not inspire confidence with the homeowner. Needless to say, we did not get that house.

The house we ended up moving into also had a hot press. I’m a lucky, lucky gal. As I was putting laundry away last week, I decided to snap some quick iPhone photos of the hot press to share with you.

Now who’s the lucky one?

My hot press is not glamorous or styled or magazine-worthy, but it gets the job done. It may also be a metaphor for my life. Hmm…

What is a hot press? It is an Irish term for an enclosed storage space such as a cabinet or closet where a home’s water heater is stored. Ours happens to be in one of the bathrooms. The original hot press concept was for the space to double as an “airing cupboard.” This meant slatted wood shelves were installed around the water heater, which could be used as a drying rack for clothing.

By and large, the Irish seem to prefer to air dry their clothes. I kid you not, it can be 40 degrees outside and you’ll see people hanging their clothes OUTSIDE to dry. I speak from personal experience when I say it will take approximately and this is a conservative estimate, 71 billion hours to dry clothes outside in Ireland in those temperatures. I don’t care how windy it is.

Here is our little water heater all bundled up in some sort of insulated tarp. I did warn you this wouldn’t be glamorous.

Storage is a precious commodity in all homes, especially ours. So, I’m not using the hot press to dry my clothes. It seems like it would be very inconvenient to hang them in there anyway.

I use the hot press as a linen closet. I store our towels, hair appliances, iron and other toiletries that I’m not worried about being damaged by a slightly warm environment in this space. Some of these items include toilet paper, my precious nail polish collection, first aid supplies, extra razors and toothbrushes, extra soap. All the exciting stuff.

The other “fun” thing about hot water heaters especially in older Irish homes is they are often immersion heaters. This was new to me. It means you can heat just the water in that tank using the tank’s immersion heater, which is electric-based. Or, you can heat all of the water to the house (the water in the hot water heater and the water for the radiators) using the heating oil and not electricity.

The immersion heater and the heat for the radiators are controlled by timers on a dial, like the one shown in our cupboard below. No one explained to us how the timers worked or which timer controlled which thing when we moved in. There was a casual, passing mention of “just set the timer” and you’re good. Needless to say, we did it wrong for approximately 4 months.

Humor and humility, folks. It gets you through.

I have since learned in the winter to set the radiator timer located in the kitchen for however long we want to heat the house. Typically, it comes on for a couple of hours in the morning and 4 hours in the evening. Remember, this will also heat the water in my hot water tank.

If I want hot water during the day when the radiators aren’t on, I need to have the timer in my hot press set appropriately to turn the immersion heater on – the one that just heats my cute, little hot water tank.

Are you confused yet?

Oh, gosh. Me too.

In the summer, I will only use the immersion heater for water and the timer for the radiators will be turned off.

We do have two showers in this house. One of the showers heats its own water. The other uses the water from the hot water heater.

The other feature of the immersion hot water heater is that I can set it to heat only half the water in the tank or all of the water. This is determined by a switch in the cupboard that says “sink” on one side and “bath” on the other. Super self-explanatory, right?

If you have gotten the impression that Irish people are VERY concerned about electricity costs, you would be right.

Back to the clothes drying topic. We are fortunate to have a clothes dryer. It’s outside in a shed.

I’ll just let that hang there for a second.

I mainly only use the dryer for sheets because it is terribly inefficient. The rest of our clothes are hung to dry in the second bathroom – it’s a small room, so it stays nice and warm. Or if I really want to dry something quickly I lay it on the radiators.

So if my towels and washcloths look crispy, that’s because they haven’t seen a tumble dryer or a  fabric softener sheet in months.

If you have read through this entire post you deserve a cookie.

I’ll finish with a bit of bonus trivia. NO ONE pays for water in Ireland! There are no residential water bills. You’ll pay to heat your water and many people think electricity is way too expensive in this country, but you won’t pay for the water itself.

Now, do you feel enriched by this knowledge? I’m happy to help. Go eat your cookie.


If you want to learn more about living in Ireland, here are some other posts I’ve written on the topic.

Living in Ireland: Christmas in Retail

Living in Ireland: Groceries

Moving to Ireland: Grocery Look Alikes

Moving to Ireland: The Great Purge

Moving to Ireland: House Viewing #1

Moving to Ireland: House Viewing #2

Moving to Ireland: House Viewing #3

Happy List #12

Hello, world!

I had a first-ever experience yesterday. I was walking down the sidewalk minding my own business when a car driving by sped through a gigantic puddle. A huge wave of water sprayed out and completely, and I do mean completely, drenched me. I’m sure my reaction was comical to anyone observing the incident. But, really, Ireland is great. You should totally visit in February.

On the blog this week I shared the most amazing, earth-shattering tutorial on how to turn a makeup bag into a hidden cell phone pocket in a fleece scarf. If you haven’t made one yet, what are you waiting for? I also shared our experience of spending one day in Malmo, Sweden with our children. If you want to know what our kids found enjoyable, don’t miss it.

Now, let’s move past shameless self-promotion and onto the meat of this post – my happy list.


Shoe Tying Hack

Before watching this video only 3/4 of this household knew how to tie shoes. I’m happy to report we are now 4 for 4, people! Granted, it still takes 10 stinking minutes to watch the shoe tying endeavor unfold, but it’s definitely worth losing my ever loving mind to have everyone able to tie their own shoes. We’ve arrived, folks.

Hope this helps you too.


Coolest Use for Your Kids’ Puzzle Pieces

You know that Little Mermaid puzzle you have in the back of the closet? Or the 4 puzzles that are all missing pieces, but you’re convinced you will someday find them under the couch?

Here’s something handy you can do with all of those puzzle pieces.

I cannot read this website, I think it is in Swedish, but the blogger is super talented. Visit DIY Detaljer here.


Malted Coconut Cake

I know I need this cake in my life.

Drool over it some more on the Country Living site.

(image credit Brian Woodcock via)


12 Travel Apps plus the 1 We Like

I have only used a couple of the apps on The Huffington Post’s list of the Best Travel Sites and Apps.

I’m super curious how SeatGuru gets all of their information like, supposedly, which seats do not have working TV screens? I have sat on a long flight where the inflight entertainment screen didn’t work and I admit, it was a bummer. First world problems.


The app Handy Husband and I really like for getting around a city via public transportation is Moovit. Moovit is currently in 1,200 cities worldwide. It offers detailed directions of how to get from Point A to Point B, which is especially helpful if you have to take a train, then a bus and then walk.

But the BEST part of this app is that it alerts you when it is time to get off the bus or train. It is stressful to try and figure out when your stop is – especially in Ireland when the public transit displays the information in Irish first. Not helpful. Are we there yet? Is this our stop? How much more time? Do we need to get ready to hop off? DANG, WE MISSED IT!!

None of that. We can relax and wait for the alert.

I still double check the app’s info against local rail/bus apps or Google, but I’ve only been burned once. I consider that the gold standard.


Mural On IKEA Cabinets

I don’t know if/when I’d use this idea, but if I had a wall of plain IKEA cabinets, I like the idea of covering them with a mural.

But what I REALLY like is the pattern of that wood floor in the below picture. COME TO MAMA!

(image via IKEA)

For more large scale IKEA hacks, read this story.


Strawberry Cookies

I found out my kids’ school does not exchange Valentine cards. I can’t decide whether to do a happy dance or a sad dance over that one. When I asked the teacher about celebrating Valentine’s Day, her impression is this holiday is strictly a romantic one and not a huge one at that.

There are still places to grow market share, Hallmark!

My kids LOVE Valentine’s Day though and the world needs more love, so I’m thinking about other ways to make the day special.

These strawberry cookies from I Heart Naptime seem like they might be a tasty way to start.


Alternate Reality

I’ll leave you with a glimpse of the alternate reality I’ve been living in this week.

My kids decided they would make themselves breakfast yesterday morning. “Mom, can you set the toaster up so we can make our waffles? I know how to push the button down.”

As you can see, I’ve been aiming high with the culinary lessons.

I come back into the kitchen to see my 6-year-old son cutting his waffle with the LARGEST KNIFE we own. Maple syrup is all over his fingers. My 9-year-old daughter was grating orange zest on her toaster waffle.

Orange. Zest.


(Excuse the hair that got in the photo…I blame it on the shock of the moment.)

These types of let-me-do-it-myself moments do not happen regularly in our house. But when my kids DO get motivated, man, they knock it out of the ballpark.

My husband just said, “enjoy it while it lasts.” Then he laughed maniacally and headed out the door. I’d like to tell you he was wrong about this newfound motivation lasting, but, alas.

If you need breakfast inspiration today, might I suggest a toaster waffle topped with cream cheese, blueberries and orange zest? I’m sure it would be delicious.

I hope your actual reality is just as happy as my alternate reality. Have a fantastic weekend.

 

 

A Day in Malmö, Sweden with Kids

During our New Year’s trip to Copenhagen, Denmark, we were able to spend a day in Malmö, Sweden.

Being able to easily visit two countries in one trip is still a novelty for us and we were thrilled for the opportunity.

Getting There

Conveniently, Malmö is only a 20-minute train ride from the Copenhagen Airport.

If you’ve been traveling around Copenhagen on the Copenhagen Card, you will need to purchase a separate ticket to Malmö at a kiosk in the airport. Kids go free. Keep your Copenhagen Card with you though because on the return trip, you’ll likely need to show both tickets.

When you board the train to Malmö, there is a quick identification check as you enter the train platform, but you won’t get a passport stamp. Oh, well. They also did not want to see the kids’ passports when we were there, but better safe than sorry.


Getting Around

Don’t worry about needing a car. Malmö is completely walkable – especially if you are only there for a day.

If you’re traveling with bikes or a stroller/pram, you’ll find navigating the streets and public transportation with those items convenient as well. I mean, as convenient as lugging around that stuff can be!

By the way, I have no idea what’s going on in the below picture, but my blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl fits in nicely in Sweden, don’t you think? She is of Swedish descent.

I take her pose to mean walking in the freezing cold is loads of fun!

Museums To See

Malmo Museum and Castle (Malmö Museer)

This is a little confusing, so go along with me. On the grounds of Malmö Castle is a natural history museum, an art museum and an aquarium. Across the street from the castle grounds is the science and maritime museum. One entrance fee covered both museums and I think it was 4 bucks/euros per adult and kids were free. Such a good deal.

The aquarium is all indoors and I found it very well done for a smaller aquarium. There is plenty for the kids to see, learn about and engage with.

Like being eaten alive by a shark…

I don’t know where they get their dramatic flair.


The art portion of the museum with it’s paintings and antique furniture was good exposure for my kids (ages 6 and 9), but not their favorite. Just keeping it real.

The natural history portion of the museum was more up their alley…not quite as interactive as the aquarium, but plenty for them to learn about and nothing they could hurt.

The below exhibit pretty much made me fall in love with Sweden. I was ready to pack up everything and move right then and there. Anybody have a job for us?


The museum’s cafe had my children’s favorite kids’ meal of all time. Pancakes for lunch!


My husband had Swedish meatballs and I had some sort of sandwich. I’m not sure what it actually was, to be honest, but it was delicious.

The museum’s cafe was the one time when I felt our lack of language experience really failed us. On the other hand, it showed us how kind the Swedish people are to foreigners.

The cafe’s menu was in English and Swedish, but they called out the completed order numbers in Swedish. The cafe was quite packed that day and I quickly realized I didn’t know how to say “28” in Swedish. We were in trouble. My husband was frantically googling how to say “28” in Swedish, so we’d know what to listen for. Google’s robot’s voice was slightly helpful, but definitely not the same as hearing a 19-year-old waitress shouting out a number in a very noisy cafe. Finally, I said to myself, ‘This is dumb and we are going to starve.” I can be quite melodramatic when I’m hungry. I asked the elderly gentleman who had taken a seat at our table  with his wife if he spoke English. He did – quite well. I explained our predicament and he graciously told me he would let me know when our order was ready.

Bless him.

The man’s wife sat next to me and she was clearly blind or near-blind. The gentleman cut up his wife’s food into bite-sized pieces so if would be easier for her to eat. Then at the end of the meal when her plate was almost clean, he fed her the last few bites that she wasn’t able to see to get on her own fork. I have no idea what they said to each other that entire meal, but they carried on a lively conversation. They could have been talking about the dumb Americans next to them for all I knew! It didn’t matter though because I was almost moved to tears witnessing his adoration of this woman and his absolute compassion and respect for her. Talk about relationship goals. Wow.


The Science and Maritime House (Teknikens och Sjöfartens hus)

When you leave the castle grounds, you’ll cross over the moat and walk just a little way down the street to enter The Science and Maritime House. One entrance fee pays for both the castle and the science house, so don’t lose your “I paid” sticker like my husband did. I think they are used to husbands losing these stickers, so they gave him another one.

This museum was my kids’ favorite part of the whole trip. In fact, just yesterday, they asked if we could go back there. As if going to Sweden is no big deal.

Inside the museum they could partake in science experiments like powering lights with a bicycle.


They could climb inside a train, a boat, a fire engine and an actual WWII submarine.

This submarine was one of nine built in the middle of WWII that were small in scale and of full Swedish design.


It was a tight squeeze for the adults, but we made it through the submarine too. I swear I hit my head and bruised my knees climbing through this hatch. Then I turned around and took Handy Husband’s picture. He smiled like it’s no big deal, but I’m pretty sure he hit his head too.

I can’t even imagine living in this small space for days on end. I’d need a few throw pillows or something.


My kids learned some Swedish words while inside the submarine.

Can you see which one caught their eye?

I can’t even tell you how proud I am…

Then we went downstairs in the museum to see all of the motor vehicles on display.

Yes, my life flashed forward 10 years when I saw my kids in the van. Right after I snapped this picture they threw me the peace sign and then invited a whole group of kids in to party play.


The below picture is pretty epic.

Remind me to never get this child a motorcycle.


My kids’ favorite part of the museum though was the indoor playground for the 10 and under crowd.

There’s nothing like hearing your kids yell out from the top of the replica wooden ship “the Vikings are coming, the Vikings are coming” to a room full of Swedes.

The little kids my children were playing with had not learned English yet, but little details like language don’t seem to matter when you can run, jump and climb to your heart’s content.

It’s these type of travel experiences that we really value our children having while they are forming opinions and beliefs about the world. I hope when they are adults facing adversity, they can look back and remember a time when they found common ground with people with different languages, backgrounds, beliefs and cultural values.

Museum Etiquette

I mention museum etiquette only because there’s one quirk about the museums in Malmö that  is not something I’ve commonly experienced in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany or Ireland. When you are traveling, sometimes just being prepared for the little things can make or break your experience. So, here’s a little thing!

When we arrived at the castle, we were told coats and backpacks were not allowed in the museum. We had to put everything in a locker, which was fine. The museum cashier loaned me a coin to use to release the locker’s key since we had not gotten any cash for this trip. We had Danish kroner, but not Swedish. Yes, they are different.

If one of these policies is mentioned to you, inquire whether you need to put a placeholder coin in the lock to release the key.

At the science and maritime house, we did end up carrying one of our backpacks with our valuables, but that was only because all of the lockers were full. They had huge coat racks set up at the entrance where everyone stowed their outerwear. Everything, including our snack bag, was right where we left it when we returned!

Some of the museums in Denmark had similar policies, as well.

Parks and Outdoor Art

Malmö is full of parks! I wish we had visited in the summer so we could thoroughly enjoy the parks in this city – especially the ones along the ocean.

Kungsparken is located next to Malmö Castle. It was full of walking trails and gardens. We found the Castle Mill, also known as the Slottsmöllan.


Near Malmö Live, a concert hall and event center, is a brand new art installation.

It’s called Passage by Maha Mustafa. Learn more about her sculptures and art installations here.

It was quite striking to see Passage in person and it made for a good photo opp!

Overall Impressions

Malmö is a city we’d like to return to and visit during the summer months. It was an interesting mix of old and new in terms of architecture, but the overall vibe seemed young. That makes sense partly because we were surrounded by kids all. day. long, but also because almost half of the area’s population is under the age of 35.

With only a day, we barely scratched the surface of exploring this town, so this is by no means a comprehensive review. For our kids, we crammed just the right amount into our 7 hours. They were happy and tired by the time we boarded the train back to Copenhagen. As parents traveling with kids, you have to know when less is more. We hit the sweet spot and would love the opportunity to go back and explore more of the area and the rest of Sweden too.


P.S. We travelled to Sweden in January 2017, be sure and double check all information before your visit as things change and experiences differ. Learn more at VisitSweden.com.

Easily Add a Hidden Pocket in a Scarf

I rarely have the most clever ideas, but holy cow, I can spot one!

Then I proceed to stumble through recreating the idea and making it my own. When I come out the other side of the DIY tunnel, you can bet your bottom dollar I am immensely tickled with myself. Truly.

Recently, my newsfeed served up a gem: adding a hidden cell phone pocket to a scarf. Such a good idea, right? The blogger made her own scarf using sweatshirt material.

I pondered this “make a scarf from scratch” approach for a moment.

Remember this about me: I spend a crazy amount of time daydreaming about how to never leave my house. It never actually works. I leave the house every day. But in all of that ruminating, I do come up with a few ideas to reuse and repurpose what I already have, thereby eliminating at least one trip out of my house.

Lucky for me, I did not have to start from scratch on this project. I already had the perfect scarf for the job and I’m betting many of you do too!

Check your closet for a fleece scarf.


What’s important is that your scarf has a seam, like this one does.

That means your scarf is double-sided and you have a spot to hide a pocket!


Second, you need an old makeup bag with a zipper that will fit your cell phone or whatever you plan on storing in your scarf pocket.

My cell phone is the size of a brick, so I needed a large bag.

I’m guessing most of us have a makeup bag or two lying around. This one was for beach stuff and it has the benefit of being water resistant.


To begin this project, you need to determine where you want your pocket to be.

Since my phone is heavy and my scarf had a horizontal seam, I decided to place my pocket a bit lower for the added support. There’s no right or wrong here. I think it would have been fine most anywhere I placed the pocket, but go with what works for you.


Now you’re going to take your scarf apart.

A seam ripper would be the most handy tool for this job, but small scissors or a sharp knife would work too.

You need to cut open the threads on the seam where you want to insert your pocket. Don’t open it up more than you need or you’ll just be creating more work for yourself later.


I probably could have skipped over this next step, but I thought it would make it easier for me later if I stitched each side of the flap/hem back down.

I used a needle and thread and quickly stitched it back up. I didn’t have teal thread, so I used the closest one I had, a navy blue. I hid the stitches in the seam line that was already in the fabric.


After that, it was time to stitch the makeup bag into the scarf.

I positioned the bag where I wanted it to go. So that it didn’t wiggle around, I held it in place with a few straight pins. If you don’t have straight pins, you can use binder clips or safety pins.


Then I channeled my best Laura Ingalls Wilder and got to hand stitching the bag into place. If you can sew on a button, you can do this.

Yes, you could complete this part of the project in about 3.2 seconds if you have a sewing machine. I don’t have one and even if I did, I would have spent longer swearing at the machine than I would hand stitching.

My stitches are not even, straight or proper, but again, no one will notice – especially if your thread blends well. Plus, all of my stitches are hidden in the seam line that was already in the fabric.

You might have to get creative with your stitches at the very ends. It was tricky to stitch in that last little part where the end of the makeup bag is bulky.

Less than an hour later (if all goes well) you’ll end up with this!

An awkward selfie using your husband’s phone as a prop!


Or this! Another awkward picture your husband took of your chest scarf.

No, no. You’ll end up with a scarf that not only keeps you warm, but holds all your stuff!

By the way, still not my cell phone in this picture.

I’m really rocking this model thing though.


Self-deprecating jokes aside, I cannot even explain how ridiculously happy I am with this project. Giddy happy and that’s kind of weird coming from me. I have worn this scarf all week and my makeup bag turned cell phone pocket has stayed put! It’s so handy having this extra storage -especially when you’re trying to not carry a purse! In addition to my phone, I’ve also used that pocket to hold tissues, lip balm, keys, my debit card and a packet of gum. All the essentials.

If you want to see the original tutorial on how to sew your own scarf from scratch with a hidden pocket, please visit the extremely talented Amy Allen Clark at MomAdvice.