Tuesday, January 21, 2014

IKEA - a Swedish Design

IKEA is the best and worst thing that has happened to me in Sweden. It is a store with endless opportunities of ways to recreate your kitchen, bedroom, foyer, dining room, living room, or bathroom with their ready-to-assemble furniture items. You can physically insert yourself into any of their display rooms and generate an imaginary life for yourself. Did I mention they also have a restaurant? Check out this scene from 500 Days of Summer for an inside look:

Luckily for me, the first-ever IKEA store was founded in Ă„mhult, a mere 43 minute drive from my new hometown of Ljungby. Rumor has it that Ingvar Kamprad, the 17-year-old founder of IKEA wanted to open the store in Ljungby - as he is from a small village just outside of the city, but was turned down as Ljungby already had a "similar" furniture store. Talk about your missed opportunity.

Daniel and I purchased a dresser, bathroom cabinet, bar-chair, small bedside table, and ceiling lamp for a grand total of $253.96. Upon departure with all of our new goodies, we were overly satisfied with our economical efficiency. So many great purchases for a fairly low price, and items we could keep and use for years. Then we had to assemble the pieces. There is no language in the world, except perhaps hieroglyphs that can help prepare you for and IKEA instruction manual:
The sheer frustration of this seemingly impossible task was breaking us. We managed to assemble the chair and the ceiling light unscathed, but the bathroom shelving unit was a real jerk. It seemed best for our relationship to call it quits after our 4th failed attempt to straighten the door of the cabinet. The next day, we awoke refreshed, and ready for our final piece: the dresser. A few minor hiccups kept us busy for the entire day, taking small fika breaks here and there to ward off any tension that may be bubbling under the surface. 

Dressers in our bedroom: both from IKEA
Bathroom cabinet

It's fair to say that IKEA brings more to the home than just the ability to create the perfect image of your dream bedroom or kitchen; IKEA helps solidify relationships. If you can make it through the carrying-boxed-items-up-the-stairs + the what's-the-word-for-Phillips-head-screwdriver-in-Swedish + Meghan-can't-read-pictorial-instructions, then your relationship is bound to last. Thank you, IKEA.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

My Life as a Swedish Chef

The original Swedish Chef first premiered on The Muppet Show in 1975, 14 years prior to my existence on Earth. He is famously known for his incomprehensible mock Swedish spoken aloud as he prepares some faux recipe for his TV viewers. In every episode, he fails, resorting to some ridiculous antics. Unfortunately for you, dear readers, I am no where near as entertaining.

No. My cooking is much more tame. I recently spent an entire day searching the web on Pinterest, (yes, that's an actual website), and for the easiest meals possible. I've come across one website where you can enter all the contents of your refrigerator and pantry, and it will generate meals you can make based off of these items; the best we had was grilled cheese. YUM! So when reading further, I found a few articles that seemed first.

The eager chef and sous-chef ready to tackle the kitchen!
The other night, Daniel and I attempted to make Twice-Baked Potatoes. I research many recipes for the easiest, and received different ideas on the temperature at which to cook the potatoes. We started the first 30 minutes at 175 C, and increased it to 200 C for the second 30 minutes. Unfortunately, we didn't know to wrap the potatoes in aluminum foil (thanks for the late tip, Piper) so they were a bit undercooked. Even so, our hunger was satisfied with this beautiful masterpiece:

The finished product: 2 potatoes, salad, and 2 skin-fries each
It was a tough feat, one that will be an ongoing battle between me and the kitchen appliances. At least nothing's caught fire or burned too badly...except for Daniel's thumb.