Shout-out to Summer!

I sent a few gifts to our Somali friend Summer in California for a (belated) Christmas gift. I know Summer and her roommates Binga and Boodie LOVE the European cat treats. And I also remembered that Summer’s human admired the miniature cat skeleton toy I posted about on a Miniature Monday, and when I bought mine, I ordered a few extra for friends and family, so I sent one along to her, knowing it would be appreciated.

You can read all about what they all thought of their gifts on today’s post on Summer’s blog.

Aby-a-Day – 7 Januari: My Christmas Present (Miniature Monday)

This year, we had a small Christmas, because I bought tickets to the Red Sox-Yankees games next summer in London, and Björn bought us a new television. But we did do some small gifts and stocking stuffers to each other, and Björn’s main gift to me was a 4D Vision Cat Anatomy Model

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Well, of course I loved it! In fact, I sat down and assembled it on the spot.

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Luckily, living in Sweden has given me a pretty good grasp on navigating pictorial assembly instructions.

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But what was really cool was the information included on the instruction sheet. Like random cat factoids.

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And cat anatomy illustrated (using pictures of the model’s pieces) along with a felid size comparison chart.

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Then there’s a little guide to cat communication and body language, how cats land on their feet, and an illustration of how retractible claws work.

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Finally, there’s an organ-by-organ breakdown of all the parts of a cat, again using the model pieces (except for the eye).

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Here is my model, completed.

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My favourite part is, the model cat is a female! And she has kittens inside! Aren’t they cute? #theylooklikeabys…

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Izaak wanted to meet the model.

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I don’t think it went well…

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…In fact, he seemed a little freaked out. Was it the kittens, Zak?

Aby-a-Day – 5 Januari: Decorating with cats (Swedish Saturday)

We have this Victorian-style Christmas cat garland as part of our Jul decorations. It looks great with our kitchen curtains…

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…but getting them up there in the first place was quite the challenge.

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Mainly because Lorelai insisted with helping Björn with them.

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And as you can see…she was very helpful.

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Although, I am not sure she was as helpful as she thought she was.

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Still…at the end of the day, we got the kitty garland up, so we won? Or something?

Aby-a-Day – 28 December: Remembering my Christmas kitten (Friday Flashback)

Every year about this time, I have to remember my Christmas kitten, Gun-Hee.

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We collected him on 15 December 2006, only 10 days before Christmas.

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I’ll never forget the way he discovered climbing the Christmas tree.

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He was so proud of himself!

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And now, 12 years later, Gun-Hee is still in my Christmas tree every year…thanks to this Fancy Feast frame ornament.

Aby-a-Day – 26 December: Wordless Wednesday (Izaak’s Christmas miracle)

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Aby-a-Day – 25 December: The sole of Christmas (Cartoon Tuesday)

In Sweden, the main Christmas celebrating is done on 24 December. After the ritual of Donald Duck, the presents are opened and then dinner is eaten.

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The traditional Julbord, which Björn’s mother orchestrated every year to perfection, consists of pickled herring, smoked salmon, hard-boiled eggs with kaviar,

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the Julskinka (ham with mustard), boiled potatoes, Janssons Frestelse (a sort of potato casserole with anchovies), cabbage rolls (which I can totally get behind because they’re also a Russian thing), handmade köttbullar (meatballs – ours were moose, lamb and wild boar),

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Prinskorv (sort of like hot dogs, but better), a ball of cheese and bread, and a cheesecake.

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This was our first year assembling the feast ourselves, and the first we have done at home instead of going to Jönköping. Beer, wine and shots of aquavit are usually drunk before, during, and after the meal, but this year we also added my kickass eggnog with rum, tequila, whiskey and hazelnut liqueur. Because, hey, let’s start our own traditions! (I also introduced the hanging and filling of stockings, which we open on Christmas day, because that was MY tradition. I still have the stocking I was given on my very first Christmas, when I was six months old.

The one Swedish Jul tradition I am not completely onboard with is the Christmas Day dinner of lutfisk served with potatoes and peas. Not that lutfisk is bad…it’s just bland. It’s basically like eating hard-boiled egg whites. Which is great, I love hard-boiled eggs. Just not necessarily for Christmas dinner. And I don’t really like peas all that much, either. We would always eat it at Björn’s mom’s house…but this year, we are having goose and starting our own tradition (which also includes the oranges my mom always used to put in our stockings).

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The first Christmas I spent in Sweden, I drew this silly little drawing of a “lute fisk” as a joke for Björn’s brother…and today I got the idea to update it a bit with Abys. And a Singapura. Just a sketch for now, but…Happy Christmas, everyone!

Aby-a-Day – 24 December: Julafton and Kalle Anka

It’s hard to describe how important watching Kalle Anka (Donald Duck) at 3pm on Christmas Eve is in Sweden.

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Jacoby…seriously. It’s a big deal. Go sit down and watch.

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That’s better.

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Having experienced four Swedish Julaftons now, I can attest. Donald Duck and Christmas are a thing.

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The annual broadcast, shown in Sweden since 1959 consists of Jiminy Cricket presenting about a dozen Disney cartoons from the 1930s to the 1960s, only a couple of which have anything to do with Christmas. There are “Silly Symphonies” shorts and clips from films like Cinderella, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and The Jungle Book. The special is pretty much the same every year, except for the live introduction by a Swedish host and the addition of one new snippet from the latest Disney-produced movie (This year, it was a scene from Wreck-It Ralph Breaks the Internet and a scene from The Incredibles II).

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The first year we lived here, we went to Jönköping and watched it at Björn’s mom’s house. We have done that every year…until this year. In a manner of speaking, Jake spent Christmas at Björn’s mom’s house before he even lived here.

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This year, we had Julafton and watched Kalle Anka at home in Skövde.

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But it was hard to not think of the Juls we had spent at Björn’s mom’s house. That defined Christmas in Sweden to me…and Christmas in general to Björn.

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We did miss Björn’s mom’s Christmas tree, decorated with hand-cut paper hearts.

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And also the weird straw pig that lived underneath the tree.

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Björn’s mom also had this display of her collection of Dala horses. Jake tried to fit in.

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“Ugh…these guys are a bunch of stiffs!”

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Like his mini-me, Jake posed with the row of Tomten, too.

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This Julafton was wonderful…but I miss the holiday in Jönköping.