LC Forstén Fotograf

Capturing life's moments, big and small, through portraiture and documentary story telling.

Photography in Stockholm, Sweden. Documentary photography focusing on families and weddings. Portraits of maternity, infants, children, families, professionals.

Advent Calendar 2017: Hem

Dec 4th – Välkommen to our home! 

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We would love to have each and everyone of you visit.  In lieu of the long journey, let us welcome you in for a virtual fika instead.  If you followed along on facebook over the summer, you saw the exciting journey and conclusion of finding the right place for us.  In the end it came down to a lovely, fairly large house a bit outside of town and the apartment we chose closer in.  We let the house go because it was more expensive, was a lot more space than we needed, had an undefined but short rental period, and was not in a community where we were likely to make as many friends, our kids or us.  We chose this apartment because it is easy to get to the city center, is in a family-saturated neighborhood with a higher-than-average queer family percentage, and in general was a cute area. 

We live on the first floor of a three story “trapphus”, literally Stair House or Many-floored House.  There are two apartments on each floor, good for knowing at least WHO your neighbors are.  There are 6 of these connected in a horseshoe around a small play area with a grill and a lot of bike parking.  The last is crucial as it’s completely full, as are the two bike storage rooms in the connected basement under the houses.   One of the bike storage rooms is a long bomb shelter with a crazy door with a big wheel on it.  There is also little storage places in the basement, ours is filled tetris-style to the brim. 

At any rate, when you see the play area, you might be in the right place.  Every small group of apartments in the area has one, so look for the 6 above the door.  You’ll need the door code to get into the front door.  Once in the heavy wood and glass door, come up a half flight of stairs and our door is on the left, our name is on the door.  And check out the security on this thing!!  Two different locks and the deadbolt involves 4 posts that go from the door into the wall.  The brick wall.  Not a lock we put on when we’re home, imagine opening that in a fire.  No. I’ll just not. 

Come in!  Take off your shoes, everyone does here to protect the floors and just keep from tracking in all the grit and sand from the streets.  This time of year is gnarly with the rain and snow.  Please excuse the entry, we haven’t been able to paint it yet.  The décor is not permanent but we are happy with our choice of lamp.  We had to buy lights for every room in the house except the bathroom.  People take their lights WITH them when they move here.  Most of them are just plugged into a ceiling socket. 

Let me show you around!  We’ll come back to the living room.  Down the hallway of storage cabinets with cute 50’s handles is the bathroom and kids’ bedroom.  It is a corner apartment, which makes for the oddest shaped rooms I’ve ever decorated.  The kids room includes two right angles, one by the door frame and another by Freja’s bed.  We brought the cabinet we bought from Jan Alexander, always a fun reminder, Freja’s crib and mattress and Felix’s mattress.  We bought the exact same bed we had in Portland for Felix but the mattress standards are different here, so the bedframe is a little longer and a little narrower than Felix’s mattress.  One of the many things I didn’t expect to be subtly different!  Before we knew that we built Felix a Lego-building and small-toy play area for him to escape his sister in the lofted part of his bed. Thank goodness because the mattress never would have fit up there!  He’s into Batman and space, so we decorated with our Halloween bats, a birthday card from Elizabeth from last year and to remind him of Whole Child, a counting work he and Oliver did last year. 

Freja is in a toddler bed, she loves to climb in and out.  She sleeps half the night there and usually comes into our bed when we have to change her diaper in the middle of the night.  We’re looking forward to one day being done with interrupted nights!  She loves animals, books, balls, and is getting into babies.  She likes the cars and trucks but doesn’t reach for them first. 

Their room has the only closet in the house which is the oddest polygon in the house.  On the door is our growth chart so beautifully made by Jessica Koenig of Fika Craft.  The big windows give good light in the whole room, the blackout curtain makes it possible to sleep in the summer and with so many streetlights outside.

If you need the bathroom it’s here at the end of the hall.  The window in here is the coolest because based on how you turn the handle, you can open it by hinges on the bottom OR by hinges on the side.  We’ve put down wooden tiles because here the bathrooms are sunk in a bit and are just tile or linoleum wall to wall with a drain in the middle.  With no tub that means your feet are always getting wet when someone has showered.  We have two little IKEA tubs for the kids and so far, until Felix gets too big for his, it works. 

Come into the kitchen!  It’s long with a couple of odd corners (of course) but warm and we’d love to have you join us at our table.  A lot of our pictures are from here, not shockingly we spend a lot of time in the kitchen!  The light is good and so is the storage.  It’s newly renovated.  Our only complaint is the induction cooktop.  We miss our gas stove.  None of our pots and pans work with it, so we had to buy new.  Even second-hand purchases failed to work.  Ugh.  Apparently, many of the apartments had gas originally but they have shifted most of them to some form of electric as they have renovated.  Induction is popular.  You can boil food quickly.  I like food that is NOT boiled.

Our room is off the kitchen and the living room.  It’s actually square!  We painted and put up a stencil on the wall.  Everyone here puts up wallpaper in at least a few rooms, but it’s expensive (though so is paint!) and we aren’t familiar with it.  So instead of wallpaper we thought a stencil would be a good option.  It’s a huge pain, so do not enter into stenciling lightly!!  But our king-sized bed and the headboard I made fit as well as our dresser and two new wardrobes.  A relief!  It’s cozy and a good place to rest. 

There are large windows in every room with views of the inner courtyard and the street going past the houses.  They just renovated the apartment houses to add new insulation and fancy windows that have the blinds build into the middle of the two panes.  They almost all open at least a little and have vents so you can always get fresh air.

Come, sit in the living room and I’ll tell you about how we got settled in.  Cora will bring coffee and treats, a must in Sweden.  We’ll have Fika.  The kids will probably interrupt us and if we’re lucky we can send Felix out to play with a neighbor-friend in the play area outside.  We’ve got some time before sunset at 2pm.

We have managed to fit more than we expected in the house.  Due to the odd corners the living room is still a challenge.  This week we took our last box down and got the Christmas decorations up, all except the tree, which we’ll get after we get back from Finland’s 100th Independence Day celebration on Dec 6th.  I’ve hung some of the ornaments around the house and on our “tree” of holiday cards… who is going to be on our wall of fame!?  So far Anabel and Louise are the winners!  We’ve also received amazing mail from Whole Child, our Portland preschool that we miss so so dearly, and a letter from Gus, Felix’s friend and now pen pal!  In the kitchen there is a small stack of creations from the students and letters from Felix’s teacher.  The absolute best. 


We left with 5 enormous suitcases, 4 carry-ons, one enormous stroller bad and two car-seat bags.  Of course the stroller bag and carseat bags were stuffed with whatever else could fit in there.  That’s A LOT of stuff to get through 5 airports, with a 3 day stop in Maine.  It took Cora’s dad driving his boat from Stenskär to Stockholm for us to get that and the 3 foam mattresses we borrowed to sleep on for 3 months and various other small items we picked up over the summer.  And then we put it into our empty apartment and it echoed for weeks.  We slowly filled it with something from every other bin at IKEA and this awesome second-hand shop where I found a beautiful writing desk and some lovely things for the kitchen, some of which I needed. 

When we moved we sent 11 feet of a giant truck that was packed so blessedly by Jerry, Tamara, April, Jaime, Harris, and Megan.  It was a marvel to watch them work.  They saved us and will always be Angels in our book!!  Then it went to Texas and waited and waited and then waited out several hurricanes and with good foresight by Mike, survived undamaged.  Cora’s brother’s and their crew unloaded the truck, loaded a 20ft container, and then reloaded it into a 40ft container that was put on a ship bound for Finland.  Once it arrived there, one company had to move the container to a moving company’s warehouse where another crew unloaded the container and loaded it onto a moving truck bound for Sweden. 

And then it all arrived on November 4th and we hardly knew how to get everything settled. It’s been a slow organizing and reorganizing to fit everything!  Now, on December 4th, we’ve taken down our last box and are almost finished finding creative homes for everything.  And we pared down by at least half before we left!  The most eagerly anticipated things were our real mattresses, our winter coats, and Felix’s Legos.  Least excited about – the huge box of clothes that Freja grew into AND out of in the 6 months that our things were in transit!  That’s ok, we can sell them for quite a bit here; I do not understand the market for used stuff in Stockholm!  We were pleasantly surprised that nothing broke, we only lost two yoga mats and a photo light bouncer, and a box of cast iron cleaning/handling supplies that would have been useless with the induction cooktop anyway.  Next place – must have gas.

So this is how it settled out!  We have a few more things to put on the walls, but overall we are happy with it.  Can I get you more coffee?  Bröd med smör?  Thanks so much for coming over, really, it’s been too long!   Stay as long as you can.  We’ve missed you.