Thursday, March 11, 2010

On Thinking out of the Box (Or, A Balmy Winter in Sweden)

Almost a lifetime ago (make that 19 years ago), I ventured out on what would be my first of two overseas living experiences. I started in Seville, Spain and immediately fell in love…with life. (Well, sure, men were involved, but in the scheme of things it was Life that won my heart.) Then I found myself in Bologna, Italy, where my desire to live abroad was cemented in my soul. Except that life has a funny way of putting you exactly where you need to be, and apparently I need to stay in the U.S., where the educational system better suits one of my children’s special needs.

That being said, my husband and I still fantasized regularly about our next foreign sojourn, but the conversation always ended with, “When the kids go to college.” Well, I did not have that kind of patience. So I decided to live in the now and make my next home in Sweden, where I have two dear friends and a few more acquaintances (carry-overs from my years in Europe).

But I had to think out of the box to make this happen.

Rather ingeniously (if I don’t say so myself), I came up with a solution. The kids would be thrilled with their new bedrooms (though the space would be much smaller, as European scale often is). They would get a fair sampling of authentic Swedish cuisine (whether they liked it or not). And I would finally have the sleek kitchen and Scandinavian-designed home I’d always wanted. My kids could continue in their same schools. And they could still visit their local grandparents. All this without traveling more than 10 miles from my South Florida home. How did I make this happen, you ask?

It’s a little Swedish village called Ikea.

Here’s a picture of my living room, where we entertain our Swedish friends and all our other overseas friends via live Skype chats. (My narrow-minded American friends won’t come over because they think it’s weird that I live in Ikea.)

Here’s my eat-in kitchen, where I fight each night with the kids over why they should eat their pickled herring, meatballs with lingonberry jam, rose hip soup, and of course their turnips, but then end up ordering Domino’s Pizza…because we can. (Though Ikea frowns upon outside catering, since they provide their own Swedish market right on the premises.)

Here I am making my daughter’s bed. Apparently, her laziness carries overseas.

And this is my son's idea of how to make his bed…

My favorite part is the home office. In this immaculately organized space, I can write my blog entries and my next great novel, An American Almost in Sweden.

And my reading room, where I spend time reading the BEST NOVEL EVER WRITTEN!

All this for free! Of course, I have no sex life because of all the security cameras (and we think the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is invasive), and privacy does not exist in Sweden, as evidenced below.

But all in all, I tell you this is the life here in South Florida, Sweden. And I don’t even have to take vitamin D supplements to survive the winter. Now, let’s see how long it takes Ikea’s security to kick us outta here and turn us into homeless Swedes...I mean Floridians.

Until then, vi ses nästa vecka, och undvika matjessill om du kan! (See you next week, and avoid the pickled herring if you can!)


  1. Wendy - Having never been to Europe or Ikea, this opened my eyes to the fuller range of possibilities for travel and cultural enrichment. In fact, thanks to you, I'm planning a trip for next Saturday afternoon, returning early Saturday evening.

  2. WENDY! I've been a follower of your blog, and for some reason it never pops up in my dashboard, which is what I scrolled through last night when picking my Sunshine Award people! You are MOST DEFINITELY sunshiney! I am going to create an award for you. And I am SO going to come live in Ikea. And get your book!

  3. Wendy, I did some looking, and your blog posts haven't been showing up in my list, even though I am a follower and you have posted. It's weird. It's like the blogosphere is actively PREVENTING me from reading your blog. And if the universe wants to throw down with me right now, I am up to the challenge. You have been added to my Sunshine Award list - thanks for always commenting and being so positive on my small space in the Web! You rock!

  4. OMStars! I live in IKEA, too! Desk and entertainment center in family room; pantry, table and cabinet pulls in kitchen; shelving units in Living Room and Mudroom; various lighting fixtures and accessories in kids' rooms. I am a Kelly Wearstler wanna-be on a budget. Kinda. Next time I'm in Southern Florida, I will totally stop in for some lignonberry tea.

  5. Julie, The Wife: First of all, can I just say I love you! I will post my Sunshine Blogger Award with pride ;-) As for my blog not showing up on your dashboard, I have a suspicion it was my fault. Originally my blog address was Then I decided the name should match the blog, so the address is now: Try removing me from your follow list and then re-adding me under that link. I bet I'll show up then and add some sunshine to your day.

  6. Aleigh: You are welcome to my home any day, girl!

  7. And we don't even have to deal with Customs! We'll definitely have to address the privacy concerns, though. After our year in Bo, I can't live without l'amore!

  8. You are so funny, and might I add, incredibly creative, too! Love the pictures. So when are we invited over for some Swedish meatball???

  9. Wendy - I just followed you over from MeganRebekah's blog. I'm feeling the South Florida rain with you today. But Ikea? Blech? I swore I would never return to that store after trying to go when it first opened and being escorted right past the parking lot because there were no spaces available. Of course I returned. And blogged about it.

    Still, they do make good meatballs. Have you stolen the recipe yet?

  10. Wendy I love it! Congrads on your award!!!