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Guess what you guys? I am LICENSED TO DRIVE!!!
Freaking finally. I am SO happy to have this process behind me once and for all, and seriously consider getting my Swedish driver's license to be amongst my greatest accomplishments. Finishing my BSc after eight long years, giving birth, and getting this fricken license are probably my top three.
After failing my previous test I looked online daily for cancellations since they are booking three-ish months ahead right now, but there are frequent cancellations due to sickness. I wasn't able to get a test in the area I'd driven previously, but in another city, Uppsala, about 40 minutes north of Stockholm by train.
Since I'd never been to Uppsala before and hadn't practiced there, I contacted every driving school in the area and managed to book a lesson immediately before my test. The instructor was fantastic, and took me driving around through some of the tricky areas in town.
They have some super weird roundabouts there, and I find roundabouts in general to be challenging as the rules are different from in North America. She took me through several of them and then we went and parked in parking lot that overlooked a weird roundabout, and we sat there watching people drive through it incorrectly, which was actually really helpful for me to see.
So then I walked over to the driving test place, and was immediately relieved when I got assigned to a Volkswagen, not a Volvo. I asked the examiner if I could spend a few minutes getting to know the gears before we started, but since I previously owned two Volkswagens I was feeling more confident right off the bat.
When we started driving, I was like a graceful, car-driving ballerina. I spotted pedestrians and cyclists heading for crosswalks miles ahead. I effortlessly manoeuvred through the roundabouts like an old pro. I slid into a parking space like a piece of melting butter.
All the while my examiner told me about the history of the town, since I told him it was my first time in Uppsala, and told me stories about the vikings. I knew I had nailed it even before the test ended and he turned to me and said, "you pass!"
He said I was clearly a super experienced driver and was bewildered that I had failed previously. I told him what happened, how I stalled that Volvo over and over again, and he shrugged and said well we all have our bad days.
Anyways, it's done now and it's SUCH a relief to have that behind me. Eight months of my life and about $2000 worth of courses and exam fees and driving lessons. Sheesh.
One of my colleagues asked me if I was going to buy a car now and I said hell no! You couldn't pay me to own a car in this city, which always has traffic jammed up and is impossible to find a parking space in. But I COULD buy a car if I wanted to. Or rent one. Or join a car share program.
The world is my driving oyster once again.
I hope that those of you who were celebrating had a good enough Thanksgiving this week.
We were meant to have a tiny Thanksgiving celebration with friends, stripped down to just two families instead of the usual boisterous celebration. We planned our menu, I ordered the groceries, and got to work making a Naturally Sweetened Pumpkin Pie and my Vegan Sweet Potato Casserole.
And then on Thursday afternoon, Odin started burning up. He spent Friday at home with me and was just miserable, and Saturday wasn't much better.
As my friend Alison says, there are few things in this life you can count on: death, taxes, and one of my kids getting a fever on Thanksgiving. Also, her daughter getting sick on one of my kids' birthdays is a given.
This is our third year in a row with a Thanksgiving fever. Two years ago it was tiny Odin, less than two months old and spiking a fever that necessitated an emergency room visit and several tests. Last year, it was the babysitter calling to say that Niko was throwing up the exact moment I'd sat down with my plate of food, not even one bite down the hatch.
And this year, Odin and one of his random fevers thwarting our tiny pandemic-friendly celebration. It's just how things go.
We didn't have a Canadian Thanksgiving dinner this year, and I hadn't had any pumpkin pie yet, so I decided to soldier on. Paul came over for dinner, and I made, in addition to the above, a warm Brussels sprouts salad I'm kind of obsessed with right now, and this Corn Pudding from Smitten Kitchen that was so easy and so delicious it might just gain a permanent place on my holiday table.
I also whipped up some barbecue tofu for myself and Paul made ribs for himself and the boys. You know, just like the first Thanksgiving.
So there we were, a couple of Canadians celebrating American Thanksgiving, on a Saturday, in Sweden.
Honestly, it was pretty swell.
Did you guys do any Black Friday shopping? I had planned to just bang out all of my Christmas shopping on Friday, but nothing on my list was on sale, so I didn't bother.
Annoyingly, a shelf that I got on sale on Singles Day was even more deeply discounted, but as it's already been mounted on my bedroom wall, I couldn't exactly return and repurchase it at that point.
One thing I did treat myself to is a new addition to my Le Creuset collection. I actually already have this piece in blue, but left it with Paul and have been coveting a more neutral colour that will be better for food photos.
I've been talking myself out of spending money on this one for a couple of months now, but when I saw that it went on sale earlier this week I finally decided to splurge on it. I actually bought it on Tuesday, but it arrived on Friday, so I guess it's a Black Friday purchase in a manner of speaking.
Speaking of Black Friday and all, we’re now deep into Q4 and your favourite food bloggers are sweating their boxes off to crank out top quality free content for you. Q4 is the biggest ad spend of the year, and the time when recipe searches are at their highest.
It’s the show, what most people are working on all year. Since this is a healthy food blog, my busiest month of the year is actually January when ad spending is the most dismal, but them’s the breaks.
Anyhoo, I wanted to let you know some easy and FREE ways you can support your favourite bloggers at this all important time of year.
1. Leave comments on posts! It’s such a small thing but it means so much.
Comments, and those all-important star ratings, are a quality signal to not only other users, but also to Google. It’s kind of a big deal if Google recognizes your content as quality, as they’ll be more likely to bump it up in the search results.
Being higher up in search results (especially in that coveted position at the top of page 1) can make or break our traffic, and therefore our income. It makes a huge difference, and leaving a comment doesn't take much of your time at all.
2. Share our stuff! If you are a Pinterest user, please please please pin our stuff. Keeping those pins in circulation is gold for the visual search engine.
Comment on and share recipes on Facebook – that tells their algorithm that people are looking at it. Tag us in Instagram posts. Every little like, share, comment is like a Christmas present to us. Double tap like it’s your job.
3. Click on affiliate links. Ok, so you know when I’m writing a post and I’ll link to say an Instant Pot or something on Amazon?
Here’s how that works. When you click a link, it drops a cookie on your computer letting Amazon know that I was the website that referred you. That cookie will last for 24 hours, and in that time if you buy ANYTHING on Amazon, I’ll earn a small commission.
So say I link to ashwaghanda powder and you’re like, hmm, what’s that? And you click on it, decide it’s not for you, and click away.
Then a few hours later you go on Amazon and buy an Air Fryer. Or a treadmill. Or a Barbie doll. I’ll earn a commission on the sale since I’m the one that brought you to Amazon in the first place.
Affiliate income isn’t a huge part of my blog income, but it does add up!
4. Say thank you! Writing a food blog is relentless, never ending work. As soon as you publish one post you need to start working on the next on.
Each recipe you see on this site is representative of about 20 hours of work, between keyword research, recipe testing and retesting, photography, editing the photos, writing the post, and social promotion.
We’re putting our work and our lives out there, and a lot of us face pretty harsh criticism, internet trolls, negative comments from people who didn’t actually follow the recipe, etc. Very rarely does anyone actually say thank you, and I’m willing to bet you’d make your favourite blogger’s day if you took the time to write a sweet comment or email.
See how easy it is to give back to your favourite bloggers? Simple! Spread the love!
ON HEY NUTRITION LADY THIS WEEK
This was one of those weeks where I found myself on Friday morning still working the post that was supposed to go out on Tuesday. Instead of trying to bang it out and do a half-arsed job, I published a guide to My Favourite Kitchen Tools that I started working on last November. Glad to finally get it out there!
WHAT’S TRENDING ON HNL
Yeah, yeah, we all know that Mung Bean and Coconut Curry is in number one. So let’s look at what else is trending.
1. Homemade Pumpkin Purée. It makes me happy people have been cooking pumpkins this week.
2. How to Cook Mung Beans. Still holding strong through the holidays!
3. Amazing Vegan Gravy. This was the star of the show on Thanksgiving.
4. Naturally Sweetened Pumpkin Pie. Mmm, so good.
5. Cinnamon Roasted Apples. Always delicious.
COMMENT OF THE WEEK
Christine left the following comment and 5-star review on my Instant Pot Stuffing recipe:
I have no baseline for stuffing prep because I’m a spoiled adult who’s never been in charge of Thanksgiving, but pandemics have a way of changing things. This is awesome stuffing. I had Penzeys poultry seasoning, so I subbed that for the herbs. Otherwise, no tweaks. I’m still too afraid to learn how to use the Instant pot, but my husband set it up no problem. Probably should have halved the recipe for our little family (2 adults and a small child who doesn’t understand the joy of stuffing). Thankful to hear it freezes!
So glad to hear you enjoyed this Mashed Potato Stuffing as much as I do, Christine!
THIS WEEK’S MENU
Well last week I tried out a new recipe on the kids, herby zucchini fritters, which they gave two enthusiastic thumbs down to. At least I tried!
This week I've got a lot of Thanksgiving leftovers to use up, but am also doing some batch cooking to help keep things simple during the week. Here's what I've got on the menu:
Monday: Warm Brussels Sprouts Salad.
Tuesday: Leftover soup with Air Fryer Grilled Cheese with Broccoli.
Wednesday: Spaghetti with a lentil ragu I'm testing out.
Friday: Flying solo, so probably takeout + Netflix for me.
Saturday: I have pizza on the menu again, but may change it up. We'll see how the week unfolds!
WHAT’S GOOD AROUND THE WEB
3. Vegetarian or vegan? Watch your bone health.
4. Why you shouldn't count calories (and what to do instead).