Only a few hours away from Stockholm lies heaven on earth. At least my very own slice of heaven. Ok, so I am a bit biased, but still, I promise you will never regret a visit to the bluetiful Åland Islands, situated in the Baltic Sea in between Stockholm on the Swedish mainland and Turku on the Finnish mainland.

And the best thing is that you can actually even make it there even though you are on a time constraint. Let me tell you about my 24 h visit starting Friday afternoon.

Getting out to the port of my choice, Kapellskär, takes about an hour by car or bus from Stockholm. The passenger-ferry takes a bit more than two hours – and there is lots of stuff to see and do – and eat on board the ship.

There is even a special pet room on board, where you can choose to sit at café tables with your pet, or “park” him/her in a cage. Our lab Salmiak is very cozy in one of the bigger cages where he gets his own bowl of water. He is such a nice sport so he stays happily – and quietly – in there letting his family roam around the ship at their ease.

We always make sure to eat well on board and usually also visit the different tax free shops on board.

This specific trip was all about family. I visited with my immediate family – and feel so blessed that we are finally living so much closer and can see each other regularly. I had some really good visits with my mother and one of my aunts who both are getting up in age – and also had the opportunity to stay with one of my brother’s and his wife.

Not stopping at that I also saw my other brother and his wife a couple of times. There is no limit to what one can accomplish during a mere 24 h. An added value was the spontaneous visit to my nephew and his family where they had celebrated their youngest  first birthday-party.

Then I also managed to enjoy the breathtakingly beautiful landscape of the Enchanted Island of my home commune Vårdö on this gorgeous sunny winter-day!

Walking to and from my mom’s assisted living in -12 C with Salmiak gave me a good taste of real winter; and he was all so happy in his new boots…

Then some local sightseeing with man’s best friend. First stop at Alören where you have to catch a small ferry to go to the village of Simskäla:

Another stop at Båthusudden in Sandö where my very own poster-boy posed for some pictures:

And of course never a visit to Vårdö without going to my very own Tallgläntan.

Had a couple of errands inside the freezing cold house – and had to stay inside longer than I wanted since I had to clean up the mess of two exploded frozen soda bottles…

But thereafter I also stayed on outside at Tallgläntan on overtime, indeed so long that Big Bro called to see if something had happened…

Vårdö cable ferry and late afternoon views

And then back on the same ferry 24 h later…

So whenever you come to Stockholm from far away do try to add a couple of days to visit and enjoy the full glory of the Åland Islands!

I just love being back up North with the four seasons. I did not expect to enjoy the cold winter-weather having moved up to Stockholm as much as I do. And last week we also got the daylight back; the days ARE becoming longer AND the SUN comes out pretty much every day. The sky is anything from overcast to clear blue and the air is SO FRESH and CLEAR. And a detail one might overlook is the fact that the snow-covered ground actually brightens things up!

The last weeks it has been quite cold as well, so we have to get used to dress warmly; a déjà-vu for me but a totally new experience for the boys.  At -10 centigrade you just cannot “forget” your hat or mittens.

The physical education at school includes new sport experiences for both our 6th and 8th graders. The former even got to go ice-fishing the other week.

The upcoming week all Stockholmer students are off on winter-break – and a lot of them have gone skiing in the Swedish “alpes” bordering Norway. The boys have flown down to Brussels to spend their holidays there with good ol’ dad and their friends.

For me it will be business as usual

with some family and friends viting me and Salmiak during the weekends. This weekend one of my bro’s and my sis-in-law came for a short visit and we went sightseeing in the vicinity, i.e. we saw the beautiful surroundings of Djursholm and Vaxholm among others…

I have now been living and working nine full months in Stockholm – one of the best moves I have ever done in my entire life. Yes, there is a lot of work to be done, both at the office and at home, but somehow I am swinging it. 🙂

I travel quite a bit on the job, so I actually have been both far North and far South in Sweden, and it seems to be continuing like that. I am slowly getting the hang of speaking publicly, at least for university students. I still have other audiences that I find harder to suffice for.

I am a proud mother of two, and even though it is challenging at times I do believe the boys also will prosper from this move up here. It is fun to follow their first impressions of so many different things I was accustomed to already growing up. For instance when the first snow fell, they immediately hoped for their schools to close the next day. In vain, of course. Home economics is another “new experience”; our oldest was very happy when he came home from school saying “mom, we made cinnamon rolls in class today, and I ate all but three for you to taste!”

We are also getting new habits – and new “regular” places we go to. We have everything we need – and more – here in our commune just 15 km outside of Stockholm. I can appreciate that we are very fortunate, but I do believe Stockholm and Swedes per se are very welcoming. I would like to go as far as to say that we are surrounded by good intentions – and on top of that everything is very well organized.

It is natural that my 22 years in Belgium have left its mark. And I do miss some of the Belgian ways of living. We had a great life there as well. But what I miss the most if of course the people; our friends, neighbours and colleagues. I went back for a week in January – for work – and it all came back to me. Those very same feelings I had when leaving the Åland Islands in 1995. It is the people who matter; it is the people one misses. And I have got quite a number of good friends who are now far away also in Belgium. And I only managed to see a handful of them while there…

I did escape on a wonderful Caribbean cruise in the fall thanks to one of my sweet nieces getting married over there. It was a totally out-of-this world-experience. Having seen all sorts of Baltic cruiseships I was not prepared at all for what was waiting onboard M/S Allure of the Seas.  And it is hard to explain, I might try in a separate post later on. For now I will admit it was an experience of a lifetime – and I cannot even say what was the best part. Probably the wedding, but the visit to the Bahamas is a close runner-up, so is the immense ship in itself and all its goodies onboard…

My only regret so far is that time continues to be limited; I have not had the time to visit the Åland Islands as regularly as I had thought I would. I have not even managed to keep up with – and even less to see – dear family and friends living in and around Stockholm.

But I too am getting better organized, so before too long I might be able to get a social life again – and even to blog more regularly.





A new job, a new home and new schools in a new country mean new beginnings for our family having moved  from the of Europe to Stockholm.

Still learning a new job, we have a whole new house to move into and settle down into while the boys have started their new schools. So yes, it all keeps me quite busy. But in a good way. 🙂

This summer was like no summer before, but I learnt a lot of things. Especially that life is fragile, so all of you please live now, do not postpone to a later time. All that really matters is here and now!




You know those thank you speeches at the Oscars? Well, that is what I feel like giving right here and now instead of a recap of all the things that have happened since I last posted.

First of all, thank you dear readers who are sticking with me and checking for new posts. I know that there are a few of you; due both to the blog statistics and personal e-mails I have been receiving this spring.

Then I would like to make it offficial, even though I have of course said it many times in person as well, a BIG THANK YOU to my dear hubby for holding the fortress at home while I have moved away and taken up duty in a different country. I know firsthand that it is quite a chore to keep up with everything both at work and at home. You are doing a great job! 🙂

Then another thank you to our children who are putting up with having mommy away for such a long time. We are fortunate to be able to keep in touch through all the different types of communication technology, but still it is not the same thing as in real life. I do manage to fly home to be with them every other weekend, but family life is far from normal right now! We will get back to it eventually. Love you.

Yet another thank you to all our friends – and colleagues – in Belgium who have been wonderful to us in so many ways. I had better also mention our amazing neighbours, although I do consider them our friends now after 16 years next door. There have been different ways of saying farewell, and I know that it will of course only be a SEE YOU SOON instead! 🙂 We have still not said properly goodbye to many of you, but do not count us out just yet. We still have a couple of months…

Then a HUGE thank you to my dear family in the USA who gave me and the boys a fantastic break from the moving frenzy in April. You were all wonderful hosts – as usual – and showed us an incredible hospitality and we got to see the best of your ‘hoods whether in NY, Alabama or Tennessee. Thank you once again for taking so good care of us. A trip to treasure forever.

And then there are so many wonderful people who have been so welcoming to me after having taken the plunge. After nearly 21 years in Brussels it is of course totally life-altering coming to Stockholm, a move of 1700 km:

First of all my dear friend M; who lets me stay in his guestroom and  makes me feel like I am at home. We have had a great few weeks together and I am sure we will be good friends even after these two months.

I am so grateful for all family and friends in Stockholm who agreed to be in my closed FB-support group to help me out with all my practical questions about the move. Thank you all for your input. And thank you for your kind dinner invitations and other fun stuff you have suggested. I will take you up on some of them soon, so far I have only “accepted” a few, but that is only because of my packed agenda.

Another big thank you and I love you go to my immediate family in Åland; my brothers and sisters-in-law have been extremely helpful with providing all sorts of support at Tallgläntan – and elsewhere – so that I have been able to go there and enjoy its proximity to Stockholm, almost every second weekend. Amazing.

Other family-members and friends in Åland also deserve a big thank you; it has been a sheer pleasure to meet the new babies who have been born since Christmas – and I am forever grateful to all of you who showed up for the outdoor spring-cleaning at Tallgläntan a few weekends back.

Last but not least I feel very welcome into my new job and want to extend my warmest gratitude to all my new colleagues. I feel like I am in the middle of making new friends. The same actually goes for the couple renting us their house. They are taking the plunge this coming week leaving for Australia and we will be trying to look after their house like our own from mid-August! 🙂

Please forgive me if I have forgot to mention some of you wonderful people out there. There is just a lot going on in my life right now, but I am definitely back blogging. And you might see some changes around here before too long! 🙂







Sometimes a picture can tell more than a thousand words; right?



Luxembourg with Best of Friends

Sure Signs of Spring


Yep, that will be it for this time – take care out there, wherever you are! 🙂

Two notebooks are my big crutches in life right now; one bigger in green for my new job and a smaller bluetiful one for our big move to Stockholm.


This is me trying to compartmentalize* my packed life right now. Trying to sort out and keep track of what it is going on and what needs to be done in an orderly manner.

So far the green notebook is filling up more quickly – I am attending a lot of useful courses in view of my new job and there are a lot of workrelated dates to keep track of for it. Meetings, seminars and other events that I will need to attend here in Brussels and Luxembourg, and plan for when on location in Stockholm. There are also other tasks that will have to be done before even taking up the position, i.e. planning events, both hands on and administrative routines. Let me tell you my head is packed with new impressions every day.

The blue notebook is coming along nicely also: all the flights for my commute between Stockholm and Brussels during the first two months have been bought. In principle I will be going home to my family at least every two weeks.

Then there is, of course, the move to Sweden, the physical one. I have already started the paperwork for that, but I know there will be a lot of planning for this also. Different removal companies I have to meet with. Decisions to make. Dates to decide on… But right now I am more focused on trying to get started on sorting through all our things here; we will most certainly not move the things that we could rather give away or throw out…

There is a lot of school-meetings in the pipeline right now; different teachers wanting to see us for different reasons… I am also trying to see as many friends as possible, even though I need to speed things up a little in that compartment. I will be seeing all my friends in Luxembourg in the next few weeks, and need to plan some type of get-together for the ones here in Brussels as well. I still am undecided what to do for my colleagues…

The vacation for the whole year has also been planned – and I must say I am pretty excited about it all. Two trips to the US have been booked and paid for, one in April and the other in October. And a long summerbreak has been approved so we can manage both the physical move from Brussels to Stockholm as well as have a few weeks off at our very own slice of heaven on earth in the bluetiful Åland Islands.

But this is of course only the beginning. The real work start when I get to Stockholm; not only having to learn the new job during the first month but also finding the family a home in only two months – on a tight housing-market…

So yes compartmentalizing it all works wonders for me. I deal with one thing at a time, but use the notebooks to keep track of everything. And helping me with all of this is not only the notebooks but also the fact that starting Monday I will be working halftime the rest of my time in Brussels… Let the countdown begin!

* According to Merriam Webster’s definition of compartmentalize the word simply means to separate into isolated compartments or categories. I know that there is also a negative connotation to the word meaning that one blocks stuff out of one’s life in order to avoid dealing with the difficult stuff… That is not I!

Hi there in French, just a short note to let you know that all is well with us. We have a few busy months ahead of us now, and I do try to keep track of everything that needs to get done before I move to Stockholm on 1 May. I am writing lists like never before, and also jotting down different appointments and dates in the family calendar on the fridge door. Some things are still open, we know that the boys will follow after the school is out on 7 July whereas it is still open when Dear Hubby will follow.

Still house-hunting in Stockholm – and I have no clue what I am getting myself into… In the end we might not rent anything before I am all settled in, or at least on location. I am so fortunate to have got offers to stay with two good friends, so at least I will not have to look for a first dwelling. I can thus put all efforts into finding a house for the family instead. 🙂 Thank you M – and K – for your kind offers.

It feels like life is full of making plans right now. At work I have been asked to take courses that will help me in my new position in Stockholm, and due to the great variety of tasks that I will be doing there,  the spread of courses I will attend in the near future is great, for instance Public Speaking, Writing for the Web, Social Media, Financial Files… And believe me it is like a new start, a real kickoff to something new, I can hardly wait! 🙂

At home we are also busy getting things done not only around the house but also different medical visits. We have seen two roof-layers, the water-filter guy and others. We will also be seeing our dentist, ophthalmologist and other specialists before moving… Then there are the boys birthday-parties that need to be planned plenty of time ahead taking into account what weekends I will be flying in from Stockholm since I will be commuting between Brussels and Stockholm during my two first months on the new job.

We are also trying to keep somewhat of a social agenda, but are not doing so great in that department yet. Hopefully we will improve a lot in order to see so many of our friends here as possible before we leave…

Last but not least we are planning our overseas trip during the Easter holidays; a trip to see loved ones over there. New York and the South is on the travel agenda. And I also try to plan ahead for receiving American family in Åland this summer, so yes I can testify to life not being boring – at all. But rest assured, this all makes me happy, happy, happy! 🙂

We have a new president in the USA, the Trump. I will not get into his politics other than that I am not a fan. But what do get my spirits up are definitely all Women’s Marches around the USA and in Europe, and elsewhere as well. Only in Washington DC, where both my American Big Sisters are marching with their daughters, half a million women have hit the streets. Impressive.

Myself, well I chickened out from the Women’s March downtown Brussels. I know, one should not be intimidated, but I am, I still try to avoid big crowds of people, especially in Belgium.

More courageous family-members and friends have marched all over the globe last evening and today:

Way to go, gals, I am so proud of you! ❤


Yes, dreams do come true, 2017 is the year we will move to Stockholm, Venice of the North. After 21 good years in the  of Europe, I have now got a new job in the capital of Sweden, which means we will then be only a few hours away from my family and friends in the Åland Islands. On the plus side we also already have both family and friends in Stockholm and vicinity.

Having said all of the above, the details of our move are still being worked out, so do have patience with me. I will try to fill you in along the way. In the meantime I will leave you with this photo I took flying over downtown Stockholm in June 2o14.



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