Category Archives: The Expat Blog

The Expat Blog Strikes Again… Interview on

And just when the Expat Blog at thought it was finally free of me… foiled again! 



I had the opportunity to talk a little about my experiences as a “re-pat” in the United States with Kristin Lund, who took over the reins of the Expat Blog this past fall. You can check it out below:

A Christmas Treat: Interview with “Repat” Kate

Topics covered include:

  • What surprised you most when you moved back?
  • What do you miss most about Sweden?
  • What do you do at the House of Sweden?
  • How often do you use your Swedish in DC?
  • What was it like trying to find work in the United States again?
  • and MORE (actually not that much more… that’s about it.)

Happy first Friday in 2013! Woot woot!

Goodbye for now… | the Expat Blog

I just hit “Publish” on my last blog post at It’s a very bittersweet moment — sad to be leaving behind an amazing period in my life, happy and excited about the adventures that lie ahead.

You can read the post by following the link: “Goodbye for now.”

If you’re coming here from the Expat Blog at, welcome to transatlantic sketches, my own personal “expat blog” that predates the one I had at the Swedish Institute. I’ve always used this space to write about my experiences as an expat — in Italy, in Austria, and in Sweden — and now I’m going to try to continue this blog on this side of the pond to write about my experiences in my home country, the United States.

If you’re curious about some of the stuff that didn’t make it onto the Expat Blog at, you might want to check out some of the following posts:

IS YOUR SNUGGIE SAFE? OnePiece: The Scandinavian challenger to the Snuggie

Mushrooms for Nybörjare: Part One, Le Chanterelle

Into the Woods in Vittskövle

Frank the Sheep Speaks Swedish

The only Swedish Hasbeens I want to be associated with will go on my feet.

Visiting the Fish Church (Feskekörka) in Gothenburg

Photo Essay: Out in Gothenburg’s Harbor

Ben Schott’s Pluviocabulary: A list of words for rain

ICA Maxi: The Walmart solution to all of your European problems

From Påssjuka to Paris… a week of swelling and love

DECEIT! DESPAIR! And other totally normal emotions to feel during a bachelorette party!

24 Hours in Paris, and the conclusion to the world’s most excellent bachelorette party

In the meantime, rest assured that I am being taken care of here in the United States. I’ve already contracted two fatal diseases, which is normal (see the From Påssjuka to Paris blog post if that comment is unclear to you), and my husband and I are staying at my parents’ house until we move in to our new apartment in Washington, D.C.

Thanks for joining me here!

It's just us and the crabs now!


Upcoming Events at Vollsjö Mill

Last Easter, I took a trip out to Vollsjö Mill with Simon to see the mill’s grand opening and meet Cecilia, the owner and one of my Twitter friends. Her husband, Tobias, gave us a tour of the mill beyond the seed magazine that was incredibly interesting. They also had an art exhibition with Danish artist Richard Winter and a cafe selling local goods on the premises.

Here’s the blog post if you’re interested: Adventure to Vollsjö Mill.

I can highly recommend a trip out there, and there will be two good occasions to go in August and September.

On August 26 from 11 am-4 pm, there will be a flea market (or “loppis,” in Swedish). If you are interested in selling your curious and antiquities, the cost of a space is 100 kr.

On the weekend of September 15-16, Vollsjö Mill is hosting a community event with an art exhibition, various demonstrations, and possibly some different workshops. If you’re interested in participating as a performer or exhibiting your artwork, the cost is 300 kr  for the two days.

To get in touch with Cecilia, the Mistress of Ceremonies, you can visit Vollsjö Mill’s Facebook site, find her on Twitter @VollsjoMill, or call 0416-30880.

Visa större karta

Celebrating the 4th of July with the American Women’s Club

This is an excerpt from the Expat Blog at Follow the link to read “Celebrating the 4th of July with the American Women’s Club.”

4th of July can be a strange holiday to celebrate abroad. Without the fireworks and the nationwide patriotic euphoria, there’s not much that distinguishes a 4th of July party from any other summer evening spent drinking and barbecuing with friends.

All the same, in past few years as an expat, I’ve given it an honest try. This year, I decided to give up the evangelization efforts and take it easy. Thank goodness for the American Women’s Club in Malmö. I joined their celebration for the first time and it was exactly what I was hoping for.

Picnic blankets covered the host and hostess’s yard in a blanket of red, white, and blue, and our white cardboard plates were overloaded with hamburgers, hotdogs, multiple varieties of potato salad of both American and Scandinavian persuasion. Later, the owner of a new cupcakery in town arrived with several dozen much-awaited cupcakes.

This is an excerpt from the Expat Blog at Follow the link to read “Celebrating the 4th of July with the American Women’s Club.”

Drinking, carousing, and making merry: The Insider’s Guide to Midsummer in Sweden | the Expat Blog

It’s the day before the day before the day before Midsummer and all through the house, not a creature is stirring, not even a little frog that wants to hop around a very large fertility symbol.

This year, Midsummer has totally snuck up on me. What?! Midsummer?! Since when?!?!

If nothing else, the sun has been a gentle reminder that the summer solstice is on its way. I wake up every morning now to birds chirping and sunlight streaming in through the slats of of our bedroom curtains, feeling totally alert and ready to take on the day.

Then I look at the clock and realize that it’s 4:15 am. And then I curse my ineffective blinds.

For the full post, check out Drinking, carousing, and making merry: The Insider’s Guide to Midsummer in Sweden on the Expat Blog at

My friend Malin and her fantastic strawberry layer cake.

Making akvavit and blackcurrant liquor.

Pick seven kinds of flowers in total silence, dream of your future husband.

Making flower head wreaths for the celebration.

Wheelbarrow races - part of the "friendly competition" part of the day.

To read more about Midsummer (and for recipes and instructions for pickled herring, aquavit, bål, and flower head wreaths), check out these posts on!

And that’s how I ended up skinning a kilo of herring. [Expat blog]

Oh, snap(s)… it’s Midsummer. [Expat blog]

How to Make Your Own Midsummer’s Head Wreath in 5 Easy Steps [Expat blog]


Happy Midsummer! [Expat blog]

Very Superstitious [Expat blog]

Poached cold salmon with dill mayonnaise [Food blog]

Classic Swedish Midsummer Cake [Food blog]

Celebrating Midsummer at Farsta Gård  [Photo blog]

And that’s how I ended up skinning a kilo of herring

This is an excerpt from “And that’s how I ended up skinning a kilo of herring“ on the Expat Blog at Follow the link to read the whole story! 

The finished product: senapssill, Brantevikssill, and Leif's original sill recipe. Photos: Kate Reuterswärd

For National Day last week, my friend Steve decided we should do something really Swedish. Namely: pickling our own herring.

And that’s how I ended up skinning a kilo of herring.

Like most people in Sweden, Steve considers the Midsummer celebrations one of the highlights of the year.

Perhaps that’s why Steve decided that this year, store-bought herring would not be making the cut. Perhaps that’s why he decided that, in order to increase the authenticity factor, we (notice how I suddenly became involved) would be pickling our own herring for Midsummer.

Operation Midnight Pickle was a GO!

For the whole story, check out “And that’s how I ended up skinning a kilo of herring.”

Fiskehoddorna in Malmö. Photo: Kate Reuterswärd

Leif Mannerström, the pickled herring guru for Operation Midnight Pickle. Photo: Kate Reuterswärd

Offerings at the Saluhallen fish market in Lund: fresh fish and roe. Photos: Kate Reuterswärd

Freshly made sill at the Saluhallen in Lund. Photo: Kate Reuterswärd

This is an excerpt from “And that’s how I ended up skinning a kilo of herring“ on the Expat Blog at Follow the link to read the whole story! 

Related blog posts:

HOLY HERRING! Sweden’s secret lifeblood

Adventures in Skåne: A Trip to the Viking Reserve

Nostalgia, Hybridity, and the Zen of an American Brunch in Sweden

Expat Holidays: How to Create Holiday Spirit on the Cheap

Oh, snap(s)… it’s Midsummer. 

5 Steps to Making Your Own Midsummer’s Head Wreath

45 Swedish Words You Should Know Before Starting a Business in Sweden

It’s been a little while since I posted, and it’s because I’ve been very determinedly finishing up my last few weeks of work, blogging, and (drum roll, please) working on starting my own business!

It’s June 1, so welcome to the first day of action for Kate Reuterswärd Consulting!

In the next few weeks, there will be a lot of work going on behind the scenes to get everything up and running, but it’s not going to affect this blog. It will keep on running and serve as a more personal outlet for my writing projects. Pretty soon, however, I’ll also be managing, which will be my consulting-related web presence.

Exciting, exciting, exciting!!

In this process, I’ve discovered that while everything you need to start a business in Sweden is technically available in English, it is much easier to fill out forms and search websites for the right information if you’ve got a few key Swedish words up your sleeve.

One of Sweden’s main economic goals for the near future is to stimulate small business growth (pretty good for a so-called Socialist government), and because of that, there is a plethora of governmental agencies and non-profit organizations that exist for the sole purpose of helping potential and new business owners get on their feet.

I’ll be covering those resources and where to go to for help, but first—45 Swedish Words You Should Know Before Starting a Business in Sweden. 

(This post originally appeared on the Expat Blog at!)

The Start-Up Phase

Starta och driva: Starting and running your company. These two words are frequently used on websites to point out information and resources for new business owners.

Idé: Idea / concept. Hopefully you have one of these.

Företagare: Business owner. Because Swedish is an agglutinative language (i.e. adds different words together to make hybrid FRANKENSTEIN words), you’ll also find words like nyföretagare and småföretagare—new business owner and small business owner.

Infoträff / rådgivning: Informational meetings / advice. There are a lot of governmental agencies and other organizations (Drivhuset, Skatteverket, Nyföretagarcentrum) that offer free help to new business owners—look for these words to sign up!

Finansiering: Financing

Registrera: Register

Affärsplan: Business plan

Marknad: Market. Also frequently combined with other words—like arbetsmarknad (job market) and svartmarknad (black market).

Bransch: Field / line of work. This is also a good word to know because Swedes often get confused about it and use it incorrectly. If someone asks you what branch you’re in, they want to know what field you work in, not which office. (Note to any Swedes reading—branch means avdelningskontor.)

A resource on different places where you can get help starting a business in Malmö. Look at how happy these women are to be starting their own company! Amazing. Photo: Kate Reuterswärd

Empire building

Marknadsföring: Advertising/marketing

Nätverka: To network

Anställa: To employ

Varumärke: Brand

Tillväxt: Growth

Skydda: Protect

Death and Taxes (or just taxes)

Skatt: Tax. Skatt also means “treasure” or “hoard.” No wonder they love their taxes so much here…

Moms: Sales tax. (“VAT” for all the Brits out there.)

Skattedeklaration: Tax declaration

F-Skatt and FA-Skatt: F-Tax and FA-tax. Basically, if you want to work as a freelancer, you have to register as an enskild firma (sole trader) so that you can receive an F- or FA-tax number. You’ll need this number to be able to legally invoice clients.

As a freelancer, you’ll automatically receive an F-tax number unless you also work as an employee for another company, in which case you get an FA-tax number. (Here’s a link with a lot of great information from Skatteverket, the National Tax Agency.)

At my free info-träff, I got this free magazine as part of my goodie bag. Apparently owning your own company will also make you beautiful and give you glowing skin! (Clearly I haven't read the article yet.) Photo: Kate Reuterswärd


Kostnad: Cost

Vinst: Profit

Tillgång: Asset

Skuld: Debt. This word also means “guilt,” which is kind of menacing if you think about it. A simple question at the bank, “Do you have any debts?” becomes “DO YOU HAVE ANY GUILT?!”  AHH! Yes! I do!!  I’M SORRY!!

Avgift: Fee, charge, duty, dues. You have to pay an avgift, or fee, to register your business. If you want to join a networking group, you might have to pay a yearly avgift, or membership dues. If you own your own apartment, you’ll have to pay a monthly avgift, or charge, to the condominium association. It’s pretty much a catch-all word for something you don’t want to pay for.

Betalning: Payment

Faktura: Invoice

Bokföring: Bookkeeping

Redovisning: Auditing / accounting

Lån and lön: Loan and salary. Very similar looking… very different meanings when it comes to you and your business.

Offert / Anbud: Offers / tenders

Upphandling: Procurement

Even Skatteverket, the National Tax Agency, wants to help me. And I thought they were only there to make me suffer. Photo: Kate Reuterswärd

The Legal Stuff (Invest Sweden has a great resource here about setting up a business in Sweden.)

Tillstånd: Permission or license

Import / Export: Import / Export. I know. Surprise, surprise.

Enskild firma: Sole trader business. An enskild firma has just one owner who assumes all liability for the business’ debts. An enskild firma is not a legal entity; the owner is.

Aktiebolag: Joint-stock company, LLC (UK) or corporation (US). An aktiebolag has a board of directors, minimum capital of SEK 50,000 if it’s privately-owned, and the shareholders have limited liability.

Handelsbolag: Trade partnership company. There are at least two business partners in the company who are personally liable for the partnership’s agreements and debts.

Kommanditbolag: Limited partnership company. A kommanditbolag is a special form of a handelsbolag in that at least one of the business partners has limited liability and at least one has unlimited liability for the partnership’s agreements and debts.



Have questions? Curious about starting a business in Sweden? I’ll be following up on queries made in the comments! This post originally appeared on the Expat Blog at—you may want to check out the helpful comments being left there as well!

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

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)

rain and cold
are not conducive to fun.