Happies is a Swedish toy store that delivers exactly that: “happy” to both parents and happy kids. I’m pretty sure that the first time we entered the store my hands were immediately on a handmade, Dalahast (traditional Swedish wooden horses) ,while all 3 of our kids were on their hands and knees, down on the floor, playing hard with this sturdy wood car set. And since Happies, just wants you to be “happy,” this vrooming was only met with nice smiles and a nice “welcome in.”
In fact, I think it took more than oodles of visits to take time to focus in on the fact that the cashier’s desk is a car. There are items absolutely everywhere for one’s eyes to feast — tall or short, grown up or young.
Christmas kicks off in Sweden on the first of Advent. On this day, it is as though, every window in Sweden is lit with candles and stars. Glögg party season begins where people gather to enjoy mulled, warm wine accompanied with gingerbread cookies. The city, too, is decorated in white lights
With our short days in Stockholm, this is the time of the year to explore Stockholm’s interiors. One great destination for both pre-school, schools and families Stockholm’s Music/Theater Museum. The Theater Division of this museum has Family Workshops that currently includes a Shadow Puppet/Puppetry Workshop and a Doll Theater Workshop. The studio space is surrounded by the current Marionette Exhibit which adds just the right depth to get into the making mood. Kids get to leave the workshop with a hand crafted Shadow Puppet after working with an instructor in the studio who introduces kids to Shadow puppets. There is a working Shadow Theater, as well, for hands on experience both with puppets provided by the museum and for a chance to try out their own new creations. The Musik/Theater Museum is located in the center of the city. There is a small material cost of 20 sek. Here is their website if you are thinking of visiting!
One of the most striking things about Stockholm is how city and country co-exist harmoniously. These are the 3 top, free things to do in Stockholm with kids that combine both!
1. Gamla Stan (Old Town)
Since Stockholm is made up of 14 islands, the seashore is never far away. Starting in the city with “Gamla Stan” (Old Town) is a natural place to begin.
Pastel colored, medieval, “Gamla Stan” is located on one island which is in the center of the city and was first settled back in 1252 with an architectural visual road map evident in the buildings. The Royal Palace is here, too; and strolling it's winding medieval cobblestone alleyways, small squares, ancient churches, shops and cafes is an easy way for anyone to spend the day. The main streets can get congested but, it's easy to slip off into a quiet side street. Find “Mårten Trotzigs Gränd” which is the city's most narrow street — less than one meter wide, walk the steps to to top of the Tyska Kyrka for a great view of the city and have your children count how many lion statues they can find.
Make time in your visit to watch the 40-minute changing of the Guards. This takes place daily in front of the residence of the King of Sweden at 12:15 weekdays' 1:15 on Weekends where 30,000 individual guards work to continue this tradition.
And don't miss the Hidden play area: “Junotäppan:” A teeny-tiny hidden walled play area that you can escape to when only a slide and sand box will do. Even many city dwellers don't know if this little play areas existence.
1. Humlegården is located smack dab in the center of the city; just a hop skip and a jump away from central boutiques and shopping, making an easy break for you and your little ones. It has a fenced in equipment area that's divided into equipment that ranges from youngest to oldest so that both you and your little ones can find just the right pace — with a second smaller section of park equipment nearby, too.
2. Vasaparken is just a little further away but in Vasastan, a popular northern area of town, with a nice playground, room for picnics and running and an interesting “man-made rolling hills” area for kids to hop and to run. Miniature golf for a low fee.Both have tricycles, scooters and sleds to borrow during the park's opening hours. (Vasaparken has a free ice skating rink in the winter, too.)
3. Djurgården, another park, is a vast green island preserved as royal park. The entire island provides bountiful walks, museums, amusement park, animal park, and cafes. Rosendalstragård is one of my favorite stops on the island for a coffee in a green house and has two free favorites: 1. a little play park between it's apple orchards and 2. a hedge labyrinth.
4. Kungstragården is a city center strolling park without a play ground and equipment; however, it's perfect for strolling, watch or play with a giant chess area, a fountain; ice skating in the winter and ever changing festivals. Check out the festival schedule all summer long which includes things like Restaurant Day, a large screen that with live occasional broadcasts (Live Concerts, Opera, Sports, etc) to suited-sumo wrestling, kid swings and other special events for kids.
5. Beaches for Swimming in Town:
Rålambshovparken is a popular city park and beach with a large area for sports, bikes, frisbee playing and a children's play park, as well.
Långholmen is a real city get away. This island, within the city, once housed a prison that is now converted to a conference center, restaurant and cafe. Near this, is a little beach surrounded by old turn of the century garden homes that make the beach very pastoral and ice cream treats accessible. Walking paths on the island with small scatterings of park equipment, too.
3. Rum for Barn in Kulturhuset
The 4th floor of Kulturhuset is one of the free public centers that's one returns again and again with children. It's centrally located with big windows overlooking Sergelstorget giving it great light and an active city view. This floor has
1. on-going art exhibits that are just for kids, as well as a beautiful,
2. well-stocked international children's library with cubby holes to play in, desks to draw at and a reading area.
3. For a material fee only, the painting room is open every day where children have their own easels and never worry about paint drips. An escalator ride up to the 5th floor to the kid-friendly cafe to enjoy more of this view. Occasionally, the 5th floor is used, as well for more, free children's art exhibits.
Worth Noting. Stockholm's public transportation is exceptionally accommodating to those who are traveling with young children. If you are traveling with a baby buggy, the one tending the buggy and buggy ride for free and will find most people and bus drivers to be very helpful in entering and exiting buses or subways.
There’s just something about Danish children’s clothing that has a hold on me. I seek out Danish, everyday, children’s clothing — just so that the kids can “wear it every day.” There’s something about it that feels so good to the touch and to the eye — it’s like the Danish countryside and sea are held in the weave. Sweden and Denmark share so many commonalities, but, here I am, again, south of the boarder with a Spring Wish List from the Danish Designer, Mar Mar.
MarMar, founder and designer Marlene Anine Hamann Holmboe, was born in the Danish country side, studied at the Danish Design College, worked with Mini A Ture (one of my other children’s favorites) before going out on her own to open MarMar in 2008.
MarMar is eco-conscious, Fairtrade and Organic and produces everything in Denmark and doesn’t overproduce. So, if you find something you love, you’ll need to act quickly. Marlene explained in an interview with MyAgency that her “vision was to create a universe in toned down elegance, where romantic appearance and sharp graphic prints are the contrasts. Only the most important details are allowed, the colors are always toned down, but with an eye catching twist. She takes her inspiration from everyday moments with her own children, such as chocolate slipped on dresses and old books, movies and photos.”
You can click here to see the full line or … maybe plan a trip? Denmark is so beautiful in the Springtime…and imagine your kids frolicking in these clothes!
Rainbows of Swedish Easter Candy are appearing everywhere this week!
“Glad Påsk” from Sweden. Although there are no Peeps in Sweden, there is candy galore! Despite the idea that Swedes are healthy eaters, candy on the weekend is a ritualized event. Candy love here is so serious that I’ve seen grown adults’ faces glow as they mention “lördagsgodis.” It’s uttered with the exact same expression parents wear when they declare that “their child can now ride a two wheel bike.” I kid you not! This term: Lördagsgodis” literally means: Saturday Candy and is a phenomenon that happens every single Saturday in Sweden, like clockwork.
The selection is enormous, ranging from the now familiar Swedish Fish and similar gummy candies to chocolates; marshmallows and a large variety of salty licorice. I used to love to surprise visiting foreign guests with a little package of Swedish Salt Licorice until a few of them took first, huge bites into this pungent candy and still haven’t forgotten it. I’ve also spoken with many Swedish parents who’ve explained that this weekly candy purchasing is where they began teaching their children about budgeting, through their first allowance – which is often spent fully on this Saturday candy. Is this the key to their thriving economy?
These Paper Eggs are the typical Easter Eggs for filling. They come in small size like the American plastic versions, but they also come in such a large size that when they are filled, you need two arms to pick them up! On Easter, Swedish kids wake up to find eggs like these filled to the brim with candy, delivered by the Easter Rooster.
Marzipan is also a traditional holiday treat. The chick (above), and the egg shape are the most common forms of marzipan. Although chocolate Easter candy is not as predominant as you’d expect, chocolate can be found everywhere, of course. The best chocolate comes from one of the several new chocolate stores popping up, over the past 10 years, in Stockholm.
Swedish Swedish Wishes for a wonderful holiday weekend!
I surprised the kids this week by stopping here after school. The warm setting provides a nice space to enjoy an array of these small pretties. Give yourself a little time to choose. Their flavors ranged from Raspberry to Tiramisu to Licorice; add an Italian espresso or a glass of champagne, too. Talking to the staff, I learned that the pastry chef has experience from both France and Japan and uses special techniques from her accomplished travels and training.They taste like French pastries and look a little bit like a cake roll, but not. I think they’re such a interesting variation to the traditional Swedish afternoon cinnamon bun (bulle.) They also make me want to throw a party. Bisous Bisous, we’re glad to have you here in Stockholm. Their exact address is: Hornsbruksgatan 24, Stockholm and here’s their Facebook page.
We just caught the Gingerbread (Pepperkaks) Exhibit at the Architecture Museum in Skeppsholmen, in the center of Stockholm. The exhibit will continue through January 6 and is a great way to get in the mood for Swedish Christmas baking. Gingerbread cookies are the heart of Swedish Christmas baking. Swedes are so handy – we have so many Swedish friends at home who should have entered! The kids are determined to try to enter next year, too. As we drove home, they were so inspired they asked me “what area of the house” they could have to fill with a Gingerbread village!
Since 1990, the Swedish Museum of Architecture’s Gingerbread House exhibition has been a beloved tradition. This year, all participants were invited to participate under the slogan “I can play too! Entries have been divided into three groups: architects and professional bakers, children under twelve years, and everyone else. Participants have been granted unlimited freedom to interpret the competition theme. Awards will be given out on Saturday, December 16.
I took Francesca and Gray to Ulriksdal Gardens recently where you can pick-your-own produce. I knew we were going somewhere out of the ordinary. From the moment we entered and picked up our individual baskets and scissors, I think we were all equally mesmerized.
We returned with a bounty of kale, green and purple beans, potatoes and a whole lot more. We were too early for the fennel root and had just missed the Swiss chard, but apparently, one can go online to see what is currently available here.
Besides Ulriksdal’s pick-your-own gardens and The Royal Theatre, Konfidencen, Ulriksdal has strings of garden plants, greenhouses, artisan garden pottery and even an indoor cafe for lunches and coffee. The scents and colors feel like they wake winter senses like the Prince’s kiss did for Snow White. (Seriously, if you have ever experienced winter at 59 degree N, you would understand exactly what I am talking about!)
Grayson picked so many potatoes we were able to gift them to friends! We also left with kale, green and purple beans and a beautiful bouquet of 12 flowers.