Monthly Archives: April 2012

A Romantic Getaway at Ystad Saltsjöbad | the Expat Blog

This blog post is an excerpt. You can read the whole post at A Romantic Getaway at Ystad Saltsjöbad at the Expat Blog at

Have you ever heard about the one marshmallow/two marshmallow dilemma?

In the late 1960s, Stanford professor of psychology Walter Mischel ran a series of tests on children to measure their levels of self-control. He would allow them to choose a treat of their choice (one of which was a marshmallow), and then leave them alone in a room with the treat. The children got a deal, though: if they could resist the temptation to eat the marshmallow until the researcher came back, they would be rewarded with an extra marshmallow. Pretty sweet deal… if you can resist temptation.

When I was young, I was a classic two-marshmallow kid.

Lindt truffles, for example, were a special treat for extra special good behavior. I would carefully bite the little ball in half and save the second part for the next day. My mom thought there was something wrong with me. (Or just as likely, that I had been switched for another woman’s child at the hospital.)

These days, the two marshmallow behavior manifests itself in my habit of spreading out special treats and events so that the calendar is evenly peppered with things to look forward to. The bigger the treat, the more likely I am to postpone it so that I can look forward to it for a long, long time.

Which brings us to last weekend, when Simon and I finally took advantage of the romantic getaway to Ystad Saltsjöbad we had been given for our wedding a mere five months or so ago.

My favorite part of the trip (besides all my other favorite parts) was undoubtedly the apparel. Have robe and monogrammed slippers, am ready to relax. Photos: Kate Reuterswärd

Part of me is tempted to just say, “HOOOWEE! WHAT A WEEKEND!” and leave it at that.

You guys have seen The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, right? So you know what life is like in Sweden. Just take Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and put it in a spa, take out the violence and abuse, and add ridiculous amounts of eating, and you’re so there. Catch you on the flip side.

Ok, fine. Back to Ystad (which is, by the way, pronounced something like EEE-stahd, in case you were wondering.)

Ystad Saltsjöbad is practically an institution in Skåne, rich with history like other legendary hotels such as Sun Valley Resort in Idaho or the Biltmore in North Carolina. To be honest, though, since we weren’t getting any spa treatments, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Actually, the main thing I was looking forward to was eating (obviously) and getting to wander around in a robe and slippers. Which I did.

Everyone gets a complimentary set of monogrammed slippers plus a bathrobe to wear, and people just shuffle around the premises with this outfit and the contentedly glazed-over expression of cult members fresh out of the latest brainwashing session. It’s fantastic.

The color of our skin after a Swedish winter? One might say "pasty", but I'm going to go with iridescent. Just like how I don't sweat. (I "glow.") Photos: Kate Reuterswärd

Look at the tiny individual tube of Kalle's Kaviar! So cute. Photos: Kate Reuterswärd

This blog post is an excerpt. You can read the whole post at A Romantic Getaway at Ystad Saltsjöbad at the Expat Blog at

The Agony and the Ecstasy of Tax Season in Sweden | the Expat Blog

This is an excerpt from The Agony and the Ecstasy of Tax Season in Sweden on the Expat Blog at

You’re all alone, and every little noise is magnified by the solitude in your apartment.

Somewhere in the hall, you can hear footsteps and the sound of something heavy being dropped unceremoniously outside your door. Then the creak of a rusty hinge; the swoop of something smacking on the floor. You sit, quivering: trying not to make a sound, already fearing the worst.

And then slowly, haltingly, you get up from the couch, silently cursing as a noisy floor board gives away your movements to no one in particular. And as you near the door, you reach out with trembling fingers for the large envelope that’s fallen to its resting place on your door mat.

I knew it. I had hoped it wouldn’t be true, but there it was. Undeniable.

My tax statement from the Swedish Tax Authority.

For the first time since I moved here, it seemed like the fika train was coming to a sudden and precipitous halt.

This is an excerpt from The Agony and the Ecstasy of Tax Season in Sweden on the Expat Blog at

A quick look around Ystad

The full description of our fabulous 24 hours at Ystad Saltsjöbad is still coming, but in the meantime, here are some photos from Ystad.

Ystad is a tiny but extremely cute little town that is best known as the setting of Henning Mankell’s Wallander series.

Unlike small towns in the US, Ystad has a compact downtown with restaurants, shopping, and residential areas all within walking distance. The municipality has taken a strong stand against malls developing on the outskirts of town, so while their shopping district is smaller than Lund or Malmö’s, there’s an equally large range of shops and stores. In Lund and Malmö, small boutiques have a hard time paying the high rents demanded downtown, so it’s mostly chains. Simon and I did our part to support the local economy by buying a pair of shoes each. (Very altruistic, I know.)

Fun fact: Swedish singer-songwriter Lykke Li was born in Ystad.

We walked around for about an hour in the sunshine before we decided it was time to head home. More to come later! 

A very short review of Ystad Saltsjöbad

Within half an hour of arrival, I looked like this:

More to follow later!

Romantic Getaways, Contract Renewals, Makeovers, and Awards: it’s a weekend update.

Simon and I are going on a romantic getaway. (Does anyone say that in real life?)

Simon and I are off to Ystad for a little Fredagsmys!! (Friday-mys… for more on “mys,” check out: 9 Swedish Words that Should Be Incorporated into English Pronto, Immediately, Now or Christmas time in Sweden: THERE WILL BE GLÖGG!)

We got a gift certificate from a bunch of our friends as a wedding gift last November, and now we’re finally taking advantage of it. We’ll have one night at Ystad Saltsjöbad Hotel and Spa… complete with a four course dinner, access to the pool and spa area (treatments not included), and special late-night access to the pool and spa area with sparkling wine and fresh fruit. I AM SO EXCITED!!

My Expat Blog at got renewed

Yayyy!!! It’s never a sure deal, so I was very, very excited to have the Expat Blog renewed yet again!! Hip hip hurrah!! You can always find it at

Transatlantic Sketches got some props from Alltop.

Here’s some good news that I didn’t get around to sharing a while back: Alltop has accepted this blog as one of the top blogs on the internet related to Sweden! Woohoo! You can see my fancy new badget in the right-hand column. Alltop is a curated blog aggregator, so you can use it to search for “verified good blogs” on a range of subjects. For example: Sweden. Where my blog is. Niiice!

Featured in Alltop

Transatlantic Sketches is getting a makeover.

In anticipation of starting my own business in Sweden (more on that later), Transatlantic Sketches is going to get all gussied up. I found out that someone I went to middle school in Grand Rapids with (St. Stephens, yeah!) is now a fantastic web designer, so Onyinye MK is going to create a brand new look for my blog and website sometime around the end of May/beginning of June. Sweet.

Catch up on the Expat Blog

A lot of my best work recently has been on the Expat Blog, so I’d love for you to check it out if you haven’t seen it already.

Adventure to Vollsjö Mill

Feather-crazy, bedazzled twigs: The true story behind the Easter Feathers (one of my favorite posts of the last couple months!)

9 Swedish Words that Should Be Incorporated into English Pronto, Immediately, Now


Stress Less, Speak More: 15 Tips to Help You Learn a Foreign Language (Part 1)

Stress Less, Speak More: 15 Tips for Learning a Foreign Language (Part 2)

Adventure to Vollsjö Mill | The Expat Blog

The following is an excerpt from Adventure to Vollsjö on The Expat Blog

You don’t meet many people who are passionate about historic windmills. (I don’t, at least.) This weekend was the exception.

I first started talking to Cecilia about the windmill in Vollsjö sometime last fall over Twitter. At the time, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of the 140-characters-or-fewer messages I was reading—Does this woman really own a windmill? How? WHY?

In the following months, a few things became clear: she is an expat living in the countryside of Skåne (the southernmost region of Sweden), she is learning Swedish, and yes, she owns a windmill.

From the way Cecilia tells the story, her family’s life story sounds a lot like a romantic comedy mixed with a historical period piece. Add a few vampires into the mix, and you’ve got a best-seller on your hands: multinational couple with family moves into historic building with the best of intentions, weird stuff starts happening, VAMPIRES! And of course there will have to be a girl with a dragon tattoo.  (I made up the last stuff. That was not part of Cecilia’s story.)

On our way to Vollsjö Mill. Photo: Kate Reuterswärd

This weather is cray.

A week or so ago, the weather looked like this:


Today, we have a blizzard. Why??


I accumulated too many hours at my day job in March, so I’m chilling at home this morning and working on my blogs. If I had a choice, I would prefer to just get paid overtime instead, but since I don’t have a choice, this slow start to the week is pretty darn nice. I’m not going to enjoy braving the weather on my way to work later!

In honor of April Fool’s Day…

It’s more of a joke than a trick, but it made me laugh…

Fika! Add it to the English language!