Hello again to you, reading this. I know I have been especially quiet this year and now, at the end of it, I come peeking through the corner of the year shifting into the next like new years resolutions, diet plans and the expected trends for the next year. Generally becoming more quiet on my blog is a pattern I have noticed for the past few years and I guess it goes in correlation to the challenges I am facing. Both day-to-day challenges that keep me busy for a couple of days, but end up resolving rather quickly and bigger challenges that impact my life for months or years to come. And this year, well it has been packed with both kinds of challenges. For the lack of space (after all, this is supposed to be a blogpost, not a novel) I will focus on the bigger challenges, but day-today challenges, oh boy has this year been full of them as well – as well as many beautiful moments! So while I describe with words the challenges I have been facing, let me try to show you in pictures what has kept me happy and going this whole year!

Playing with the multiple exposure function of my camera in January

Going back I see that I only wrote one blogpost this year, about the smallchallenges that kept me busy in January/February, but also the incredible beauty we got after several snowstorms brought over a meter of snow and let the temperatures drop. But I didn’t mention the bigger challenge I was facing at the time: Starting a new job.

The view from my kitchen window when I was working from home!

Something I hardly even mentioned on here was that I started a new job in January. I didn’t feel comfortable writing about it as I had conflicting feelings about leaving my former workplace, which I really loved, to turn to a new chapter in my professional life, which I also was really excited about. (Spoiler alert: my professional life wasn’t the only part of my life where I was facing exactly this kind of conflicting feelings this year) And also I always find it hard to publicly speak about my worklife.

Northern lights AND the milky way, so beautiful together!

With this being said, as I mentioned in parantheses this was not the only big challenge I was facing this year. Tord and I are both very happy in our relationship, but we noticed how the geographical distance between us became more and more of a burden. Because of our different homes we could only meet on the weekends (which added weekly day-to-day challenges in time-management), but we felt a growing wish to have that closeness with eachother not restricted to the weekends. First we were just talking about it and then we actually started looking for houses during spring. Again I was excited to find a home together with Tord and Pixie, excited to have our daily life together, but so sad about the outlook of sooner or later leaving Östergraninge.

When the light was coming back in February, it’s the most wonderful kind of energy to feel!

I love my house there and the neighbors and it was this safe space for me in a foreign country. A place that I had made my own, with surroundings that I had explored, different favourite places around and this place that had become familiar for me in a country where many things were new and foreign to me. And even though I could hardly wait to share a home with Tord, I didn’t quite feel ready to leave yet and felt that whatever home I moved to after having lived in Östergraninge, must really REALLY fill high expectations to even have a chance of getting close to making me feel as at home as I felt there.

Days were getting longer and longer and I could watch such beautiful sunsets!

And so we started looking for an affordable house in commuting distance for the both of us. In nature, with lots of forests and wildlife around, big enough for both of us to have our own spaces (because as much as we love spending time with eachother, we both were used to living alone and wanted to have the possibility to have room and time for ourselves without occupying open rooms like the living room, bedroom or kitchen, especially as we both value our time at our desks and computers, which I am using for example right now, to write this post). Remote enough for Pixie to go out safely and be far away from traffic, a garden for me to keep and extend growing veggies, herbs and flowers in the summer and with a beautiful view, preferably on some kind of water (like a little stream, river or lake).

When the nights hardly got dark anymore in April, Tord and I saw the strongest northern lights we had ever seen! We got a bench and ended up watching them for over an hour!

Needless to say, finding a house that would even come close to those criteria was difficult, but after several weeks of checking hemnet.se daily, we found a house that we both felt like it could be the one and went to the viewing. There were soooo many other people and the house was not in too good shape. Several things needed fixing, the property was a tad bit too big for us and there was a lot of trash (like old metal rods from antique horse wagons or tractor parts) on the property as well, that would have been expensive to dispose of. We still decided to participate in the bidding, but within just about an hour of it, before we even could make a bid, the price had doubled and was thus well above our budget. And we were left shocked and discouraged. Not necessarily about not getting just this house, but more about how much the price we see online and the price the houses are sold for can vary.

Can you spot the secret visitors in the bushes?

This was the first of many viewings we attended to. Most of which were quite stressful to get to after work or needed us to take half a day off to get there in time, but after that first house no other house quite felt right again for a long time. They were too small, too difficult to renovate, too close to a road or just generally not right for us. After months of searching we looked into other options. We saw some ads of companies offering to build houses new for what seemed like quite a low price. We looked at different websides, looked at empty properteis (which weren’t easy to find) and even properties with really old houses on them, that we considered to tear to build a new house in the same place.

The first flowers in the spring come late, but with such grace and beauty!

Simultaneously we wrote into the Facebook groups of different villages, that all looked so charming and nice and asked around there if anyone was selling a house or a property for us to move to/build a house on, but most of our efforts ended up without the wished result. One time we actually were able to look at an old housee in a really sweet village that made us immediately feel welcome. We were so excited, so we wrote to the house building companies to get some different offers, only to see the same pattern we had noticed before, that the prices online and the prices we were given then would approximately double and exceed our budget. Dissappointed, we turned down the house and property and kept on searching.

Tord and I got to spend to many magical and beautiful evenings together!

By the time summer came, we were discouraged, frustrated and exhausted from this constant up and down of exploring new ideas only to find them not working, all whilst still commuting to see eachother, and all while I still also was feeling sad about the prospect of leaving Östergraninge for a yet unknown new home.

I was practicing the flower look for midsommar and enjoyed the bright nights out in the fields!

All was topped on the first weekend of our summer holiday. I had just finally gotten the confirmation from authorities that after months of struggling with different papers and documents, my education as speech and language therapist was finally recognized in Sweden (yet another struggle during the first half of 2021) and was in a good mood about that. Also, just the week before we had viewed a house that fit us very well and was well withing our budget. We were leading in the bidding and were just waiting for the estate agent to confirm that we could buy it. However, when they finally called, it was to tell us that the bidding was canceled as the sellers of the house recognized some name in the list of bidders and decided to sell it to their acquaintances.

I love how green everything becomes in the summer! So vivid and alive.

We were devastated and spent our summer holiday mostly mourning this wonderful house we didn’t end up getting and recharging after the tiring months of searching without finding what we were looking for. We took a little roadtrip to Älvsbyn, where I had been with friends 2017 and ended up falling in love with Sweden. Ever since I had wanted to come back during summer and even though I was sad about it feeling unsafe to plan a trip to Germany (Tord and I were still waiting for our second dose of vaccine at the time), I was happy about the little trip and the beauty we got to see nonetheless.

And while the summer holidays ended, our efforts to find a home did not and we decided to intensify our search. We got lucky and saw several houses that would have viewings in the same week, so we signed up for all of them. Right on the first viewing, we visited this gorgeous old house from 1896. It was right by a river, with a little lake a few hundred meters on the other side and a little mountain behind the lake, that didn’t show so much on the pictures we had seen. The house was on a private road that continued behind the property over a field to a little bathing place at the lake with a tiny sandy beach. Even though it was thundering in the distance, we walked a few hundred meters to that beach just to see what it feels like. Inside the house, all rooms were freshly renovated as the seller had put breathtaking amounts of effort and care into making this old house a modern home and the only parts left to renovate were roof and fassade.

Cornflowers that I grew from seeds! Will definitely grow some more this year!

When driving home we talked about our feelings about the house and luckily (as so many times before) we felt the exact same thing: We felt quite indifferent while still agreeing on that this house was perfect. So we started reflecting on what made us so indifferent? After brainstorming together we concluded that all the weeks of searching, the many ups and downs, the constant disappontments and the flexibility to trying to see every new house we would look at as our potential home had made us afraid and stiff to see new houses as potential homes. On our way home we passed one of the other houses we had signed up for to look at later that week and decided that this wasn’t even close to what the other house offered in location alone, let alone the insides.

When we arrived at Tord’s appartment, we sat down and talked it through. We talked about the potential we saw, what we liked about the house and what we didn’t like, drew up a plan of the house and started placing our furniture hypothetically. And with each passing second we grew more and more excited and the feeling kicked in of realizing: This was it. This was our future home, the one that we had waited for and the one that we wanted more than any of the ones we had looked at before. Yet at the same time we were afraid to get our hopes up just be disappointed like before. We decided to take part in the bidding, afraid to be outbid and after that everything got really quick. After 2 days of bidding we won and were given the opportunity to buy the house, which we gladly took. After that started a ruse of different tasks. Papers we needed to sign, a loan with the bank we needed to fix, a moving date to set, all kinds of contracts to sign for electricity, internet etc and also preparing for our move.

Meanwhile, at home, I took in a new family member, shortly after the viewing of said house. I had wanted a second cat for quite a while, because I noticed how anxious and abandoned Pixie was feeling whenever I was away from home longer than a few hours. If I had been away over night, she would stay away for several nights as well as if to mirror my behavior. So when a friend of mine got kittens and asked me if Pixie wanted a friend, the decision was quickly made. Tord and I took it together, because it was important for me that he would feel comfortable with the thought of living with 2 cats as an allergic, but we agreed on that it would probably be best for Pixie to have some cat-company, especially if we wanted to travel to Germany to meet my friends and family and might be away from home for more than a week every once in a while. Even though the decision to take in a kitten was made earlier in the summer, he was only old enough to move in with us (us being Pixie and me still at the time) in August. So from that on, all preparations were taken together with a little kitten at home, who was slowly settling and building a relationship with Pixie, who clearly found it difficult at first to have a very VERY (!!!!!!!) playful new cat at home. And so Yeti became part of our little family.

Hello there, little one

The move was coming closer and so was a long awaited visit from some friends from Germany. They had planned to visit me a year prior, but traveling hadn’t exactly been easy or recommended under 2020 and so they postponed their visit to autumn 2021, knowing that I might be moving during that time and happily offering their help for the move. I was overjoyed to host them during their stay in Sweden and recommended all different kinds of hiking paths or beautiful views, showed them my favourite place to pick mushrooms and the waterfall that was 20 minutes from my home.

And then came our move. We moved out the stuff from my house in Östergraninge within one weekend. I had greatly underestimated how much time it would take and though that we would be done within just one day, but in the end we managed to take with us everything that I have and need and what’s left behind is only a few bags with old clothes that I have sorted out and that luckily my friend, who is renting my house, doesn’t mind for now.

A little friend I made on one of my walks

So within a few days, the house was filled with furniture and boxes and I worked in every free second that I got to empty the moving boxes and be able to fins my stuff again. After the moving weekend, I also had to wish my friends farewell, as they were travelling back to Germany, but I already look forward to hosting them again in the future!

Way overdue berries I found in the garden. I couldn’t resist but harvesting them and made them into some syrup with cinnamon, which gave it this wonderful autumnal/wintery flavor!

It took me about a week or two to get rid of the boxes and most chaos, but what I hadn’t considered was that Tord’s belongings were yet to move in. So right when the most of the chaos was sorted away, everyday more boxes would appear again that Tord had taken with him after work. While days were getting shorter and shorter, our „working hours“ seemed to have no end and while we still were busy with the move, we also started booking flights to visit my family over the holidays.

The first snow came late this year, in October

In november my car broke and needed repair, as did my computer. Luckily Tord and I had considered bad luck in our move and I had enough savings left to carry those expenses, but of course I would have liked it more to spend more money on for example wallpaint or so. And of course it added more challenges to a year that had been packed with them.

During the end of November and beginning of December, it became more and more apparent, that we might not be able to actually travel to Germany safely. In Sweden we weren’t given the opportunity yet to get a third dose of vaccine and first the rise of cases and then Omikron made us feel very unsafe in our plans to travel to Germany. We had many worries about getting stuck at some airport if we would start to feel sick while travelling, being stuck in Germany without the possibility of travelling back or worst of all take the disease with us to our loved ones and/or colleagues.

And we had a lot of fog during October. Which was gorgeous during the days and horrifying to drive through during the nights.

While procrastinating the decisionmaking, I dedicated my time after work to the former cinemaroom on our upper floor. It bugged me that we were using this narrow room with high ceilings and a big, beautiful window as nothing more than a cluttered storage room with pitch-black walls. Since days were short and daylight rare, we could hardly ever even see the ceiling or corners in the room, because it was so dark and once I had started to paint some of the back wall white, I got an idea. In the middle of the room was this platform, where an elevated sofa had been standing on to really get this cinema feeling, but what if we reused the platform to build a little loft under the highest part of the ceiling?

It was easier said than done, but given that I have basically no experience in building, I am incredibly proud about the loft that I made with Tord’s help. We are now planning to use this room to grow plants from seeds before being able to set them outside into our garden in the summer. I love the beautiful winter weather we have been having for all of November and most of December and at the same time I feel a tingling in my finger-tips and can’t wait to start setting seeds into the ground and watch them sprout to big, beautiful plants!

Frozen beauty I get to witness on the coldest of days

In the end we decided to stay in Sweden for the holidays and although I am of course extremely saddened about not being able to see my family and friends as planned (many of which I haven’t met for more than 2 years now!), it felt like the safest option for us and we have spent some Christmas days with Tord’s family and videochat with my family instead of meeting them in real life.

Even though I have enjoyed this year, it has by far been the most challenging in my adult life and I hope that 2022 will give me the opportunity to catch my breath a bit and enjoy more of the many things that I want to do more of again (one of which is blogging! 😉 ). As for the past few years, I do not make any New Years resolutions and instead keep trying to make changes whenever I notice the necessity or wish for them.

What are your hopes and aspirations for next year? How do you feel about New Years resolutions and what are your goals for 2022?

Frozen landscapes on sunny winterdays

I hope you all have had a wonderful Christmas and will get a beautiful change of year and I hope to write on here again soon! Take care!

Yeti enoyed his strolls through the garden way more before the snow got higher

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