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Christmas wrapping

An English Mamma in Stockholm: christmas wrapping themed paper and ribbons narrow

Normally, I would wrap up the Christmas presents while enjoying a little drink and listening to Christmas music. This first batch of presents needed to be fixed asap though and I’ve yet to create our Christmas music playlist for this year (I’m in the process of “upgrading” it, so to speak), so I wrapped them while listening to episodes of the Serial podcast.

An English Mamma in Stockholm: christmas wrapping themed paper and ribbons

I’m a little fussy about Christmas wrapping and like to have a theme for the year. This year I’m going for just these two papers and three different ribbons (and then provide Husband with just this paper and ribbons to wrap his present to me). I think I bought the paper a few years ago at a store here. The ribbons are called Framställa and are from Ikea – a bargain at 19kr for three rolls.

An English Mamma in Stockholm: christmas wrapping themed paper and ribbons round

I had fun with the ribbons on these presents, although I have had to secure them a little underneath with tape, to ensure that the ribbon has not slipped off. I think double-sided tape would have worked well. Next time, next time.

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What I Didn’t Wear Wednesday

There’s a good reason that I failed to post anything yesterday for What I Wore Wednesday, and that is that I wore PJs, thick socks and a sweatshirt, and I really didn’t think that that counted as an outfit that people wanted to see.

On Sunday I was hit by a cold and by mid-week I just wanted to stay inside, under the duvet, feeling sorry for myself. I worked from home on Tuesday and Wednesday, so I just sloped around the apartment in that outfit, sneezing and coughing and making yet another cup of tea.

Today, I’m feeling better but I’m still coughing, coughing, coughing and I didn’t really want to have to go outside. (I should also mention that IT SNOWED on Wednesday – adding another reason to stay inside. Although the snow is mostly gone in the city, it’s still grey and has the potential to snow again. A few winters in Scandinavia and I have lost that childhood dream of a White Christmas.)

And, of course, today we needed to provide photos of ourselves for our team’s animated Christmas card. Oh joy.

An English Mamma in Stockholm: what i wore wednesday wiww zara dress j crew shirt cold

The shirt I’m wearing is from J Crew – just a plain white shirt with three-quarter length sleeves and the dress is from Zara. I’m pleased that I could wear the shirt under the dress without it showing up lumpily under, because there is no way that I wanted to wear the dress with bare arms at this time of year. And it means I can get more wear out of the dress – a dress that I really like.

So there we have it: what I didn’t wear on Wednesday and what I ended up wearing on Thursday.

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The week

Panic is going to start this week, I can tell. Ten days to go until Anglo-style Christmas, which means only nine days to go until 24 December, when we’ll celebrate Scandi-style Christmas. So, my weekly wishes list is heavily Christmas-centric this week.

Weekly wishes last week

Last week represented a 50% success ratio on the GSD front, with the most important ones done. That feels good, especially after last week’s failure.

  • Training – I managed to go running for the first time since the end of November and the race. And you know what? It felt good and I pushed myself more this time than I did when training for the Tunnel Run because I now know what my capabilities are.
  • Write and send Christmas cards – Yes! Done and dusted, which is good as Friday was the last day to send cards within the EU to arrive before Christmas.
  • Mindfulness meditation – Hmmm, failed here. But I was interested to read this article, saying that the best way to start mindfulness is simply to count your breaths. This is something that I do from time to time when I need to concentrate (and also on airlines, on take-off), and it does help to calm and focus me.
  • Put up the Christmas decorations – No, but yes. We haven’t yet put up the tree or those decorations. But we had already hung our Christmas stars the previous week and this past week, the boys and I have made dried orange tree ornaments and have decorated oranges with cloves.

An English Mamma in Stockholm: weekly wishes decorating christmas oranges cloves

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Thoughts on upgrading to an iPhone 6

This week my trusty iPhone 4S turns three years old. No, I should correct that. This week my not-so-trusty iPhone 4S would have shuffled up to its third birthday, had I not taken the step of unceremoniously upgrading to an iPhone 6 at the start of December.

Last winter, my iPhone 4S developed a new trick of dying if it had anything less than 40% battery power and was out in temperatures of 4 degrees (above zero) or less. Not so practical for a long Swedish winter.

I replaced the battery while we were in South Africa last January and that seemed to help for a short while. But then after a few weeks back in Sweden and its cold weather, it started playing up again.

So I saved up my pennies and waited, searching weekly for rumours about a new iPhone model. And then, in September, when the new iPhone 6 was announced, I decided I would buy the 4.7 inch version. I was concerned at first that, even though that was the smaller of the two new models, it would be too big for me to hold and use properly. But the large screen size won me over.

It just feels sleeker to me than the old iPhone 4s. When I picked that up yesterday to put it away, it felt like a brick in comparison. I know that some have criticised the iPhone 6 but so far it’s a winner for me. Perhaps if I had had an iPhone 5 in between, I would feel that way. But the leap for me from 4S to 6 is not only vast but also positive.

Of course, having bought the iPhone 6, I also needed to buy a new case to protect my new baby.

I found a couple of silicon cases on Amazon that seemed cheap (here and here) but in the end, I was swayed by this review of iPhone 6 cases and its positive impression of Apple’s own case. I’d ordered the two silicon cases but they were waiting for me in the UK and I was concerned that I would damage the phone before we got there, so I bought an Apple case in light pink leather. I’m not usually a pink girlie-girl, but I do like this more subtle beige/pink colour.

An English Mamma in Stockholm: upgrading to an iPhone 6 pink leather apple case

It feels as if high street retailers have not really jumped on the iPhone 6 case bandwagon yet. J Crew has a couple available online, but Zara, Hennes & Mauritz and even ASOS are sadly lacking. However, etsyTed Baker and Søciety 6 have come up trumps, with some lovely models.

I’ve created a gallery of iPhone 6 cases – some of the ones that stood out to me. Which are your favourites?

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What I Wore Wednesday

Today has proven a bad hair day and I didn’t attempt to fix it as I am planning to go the gym and jump on the running machine (first time since I ran the Tunnel Run), so I’ve solved the problem for What I Wore Wednesday by cutting off my head in this week’s shot.

An English Mamma in Stockholm: what i wore wednesday wiww lindex holly whyte puppy jumper

I love this jumper from the Holly & Whyte brand at Lindex. I made my friend N trail all over the city centre one lunchtime, trying to find it in the right size. In the end I had to get it in a Medium and wear it “boyfriend style”, but as long as you pair it with skinny trousers or skinny jeans, for example, it works well.

I umm’ed and ah’ed over buying it for a while because… well, because I am 38 and it’s a novelty jumper with a puppy on the front wearing sparkly glasses. But when I showed the jumper to N in the store, he said it was fun. So purchased it was, as well as this jumper with sewn-on jewels (which I wore for our early Christmas this past weekend).

This jumper is a keeper though, and not just for the festive weeks. After all, a dog is for life, not just for Christmas.

° ° °

Linking up with Lindsey at The Pleated Poppy.

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The week

We’re all a little tired today as we spent the weekend on a whistle-stop visit to England to celebrate an early Christmas. We flew over on Thursday evening and flew back early yesterday morning. So the boys are most definitely in Christmas mode now.

Weekly wishes last week

A little embarrassing but I have to admit that I did not really achieve any of my weekly wishes last week.

  • Training – I managed to do some home kettlebell training on Tuesday and then nothing else. So I am going to suffer tomorrow after this afternoon’s training session.
  • Write and send Christmas cards – I managed to write three Christmas cards while we were in the UK, despite having taken a batch with me. And to think that I wanted to be among the first to send these out…
  • Buy almond milk and make chia seed pudding for breakfast – hmmm, I’ve still not managed this.
  • Start mindfulness meditation again – I didn’t manage this really, although I do use breathing exercises (a hybrid of the breathing I use for mindfulness and Lamaze breathing) to get me through take-off each time we fly.
The week

One of the highlights of the trip for the boys was a chance to go to the circus for the first time. Looking at this photo, it seems like they could have a future as clowns themselves. We visited Chaplin’s Circus, which had a Christmas-themed panto circus at a local garden centre. The boys loved it.

An English Mamma in Stockholm: weekly wishes circus boys silly faces posing

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What I Wore Wednesday

You know last week when I said about my winter coat? Well, of course, the temperature dropped and yesterday I reluctantly got out my North Face down coat. This coat has to be one of my best winter purchases in Sweden. It’s lovely and toasty-warm inside it. On the other hand, this year I made it until December before getting this coat out, and that is something of a victory.

What I Wore Wednesday

The outside of my What I Wore Wednesday outfit was said down coat. As I had a lunch date today with a former colleague who is something of a mentor to me, I went smart-casual today. I didn’t want to wear a skirt in case we walked a distance from the office to the restaurant, so my new Massimo Dutti navy blue coated jeans with a jacket seemed like a good option (MD refers to them as rubberized jeans, but they are far chicer looking than that suggests…).

An English Mamma in Stockholm: what i wore wednesday wiww massimo dutti trousers

I picked the jumper up at Oasis last week on special offer. I like that the patterned collar is detachable, so you can wear the jumper for very different looks.

You cannot see them in this photo, but the I’m wearing one of my favourite pairs of shoes again. These shoes are brilliant – nice and high but the chunky heel means I can easily walk in them. I’m always on the look-out for similar pairs (preferably in black) but I’m yet to find anything that matches these.

(Linking up (a day late…) with Lindsey at The Pleated Poppy – I love her outfits!)

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The week

Hello, December. The boys are so excited to see you as, for the first time, they’ve each been given a chocolate advent calendar (not by us, I hasten to add – we wanted to hold back on the chocolate versions for another few years). They have had the calendars for a week, which means a week of asking multiple times a day if they can open a door yet.

Weekly wishes last week
  • Buy Christmas presents for family in the UK – success. I managed to get the remaining presents on Thursday lunch time.
  • Write Christmas cards and buy stamps – unfortunately not. The cards arrived from the printers on Friday, which did not leave me so much time. But this is not incredibly urgent at the moment, I’m moving it to this week’s list.
  • Buy almond milk and make chia seed pudding for breakfast – another failure here. I just cannot seem to remember to buy the almond milk. You wouldn’t think it was that difficult, but it seems to be for me.
The week

Last week was a busy one on the work front; a big (in fact, massive) project went live today and the run-up has been hectic. And working on that, combined with my Christmas shopping blitz on Thursday, meant that I did not manage training beyond my Monday session with my PT. And I can really feel it in my back, and my conscience…

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A Year in Books – December

There was a falling out over A Year in Books last month. I fell out with The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons in dramatic fashion. I cannot remember the last time when I have not even reached chapter 2 of a book.

I really did try to read it, but not warming to the two main characters in a love story does cause something of a problem, doesn’t it? In fact, I actively disliked them and found them to be vapid and unrealistic. I just could not warm to this book.

I use Good Reads to record which books I’m reading and have read. Once I had decided to abandon the book, I was interested to see there that reviewers either loved this book (five out of five stars) or hated it (two stars or fewer). It is truly a Marmite book.

This month’s A Year in Books read

I wanted to choose Yes Please by Amy Poehler because it’s the book club read at A Beautiful Mess this month. I tried to get it from the library but I’m eighth in the queue for three books that they are buying but have not received yet. And I know I could buy it, but I’m trying to use the library as much as I can these days.

Instead, I’ve chosen a book that I could get from the library: The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell. I read Cloud Atlas about seven years ago and loved it, and we saw the film about four months ago and loved that too – I was so impressed with how they handled the flow of the novel. If you haven’t read it, please do. It’s a big book but it’s a fantastic read.

An English Mamma in Stockholm: a year in books bone clocks david mitchell

I’m really looking forward to getting my teeth into his new novel for December’s A Year in Books. It’s also a big book, but the Christmas holidays are coming up, so that gives me some days off work for relaxing at home with family (famous last words…), so I’m hoping that I get some time to read.

Wish me luck!