Stockholm gardens Apples at Rosendals. All photos copyright 2015 Sandra Carpenter.


It was a perfectly gorgeous autumn day, so we decided to get out and make the most of it. My requirements were to be on the water and in a garden, so we went to Rosendals trädgård. This beautiful garden is a great spot to wander around, whether it’s through the pick-your-own flower garden, the apple orchard or greenhouses.

The sunflowers and zinnias were huge and the apple trees were loaded with fruit. We hung out in the garden cafe and then I had to get some of the apples. As soon as I got home, I made the pie using my friend Bryn’s recipe as I really like the crumbly texture of the flour and oats crust and topping. (And I also like the depth of flavor you get by adding a bit of bourbon to the fruit!) I substituted apples for the peaches called for in the recipe and was pretty happy with the results. (As was Robert.)

As for the “water” part of the day, we walked along Strandvägen by the Baltic and then took the Djurgården ferry home.


Rosendals Sunshine picnics.


rosendals The inspiration dessert at Rosendals was made with creme frache  and apples from their gardens.


home baking And the completed apple pie at home was also made with freshly picked apples from the gardens.


Stockholm Clouds and shadow view of Waxholm. Click on this photo to see it in full. All photos copyright Sandra Carpenter.


I am most often happiest when I am on the water. While I did not get to spend as much time as I would have liked to in Stockholm’s archipelago this summer, I did manage to squeeze in a few trips. And when my friend James was in town for a visit this summer, we took an afternoon cruise into the close-to-Stockholm archipelago.

The day was sunny and warm, so I could not resist leaving work just a tad early to join James and Anthony, a friend of his. I had done this boat tour before, and the guys had spent the morning touring, so we were all happy to just sit back and relax. We had a traditional Swedish style lunch of herring and shrimp, together with a bottle of white wine. It was a perfect way to spend a summer afternoon.


Waxholm Boat’s-eye-view: Heading into the archipelago.


Stockholm Lunch on board with Anthony and James.


Stockholm Skagenröra–shrimp salad.


Stockholm And a sample of herring, too.



archipelago Boat passersby.


Copenhagen My friend Zanne at the start of our amazing evening at Radio. All photos copyright 2015 Sandra Carpenter.


It’s been raining for about 24 hours and suddenly, it feels like autumn in every way here in Stockholm. As I’ve had a brilliant summer filled with travel and adventure, I am not feeling too down about the change in season.  And the rainy weather means I can get caught up on some writing, at least.

At the end of June, I had one of the best meals that I’ve ever had in Scandinavia. My friend Zanne and I went to Radio, the Claus Meyer restaurant in Copenhagen, and I can’t even begin to say how fantastic our meal and service was.

The menu is simple: you order either three or five courses, let the chef know if you have any allergies, and then are treated to a selection of locally grown and sourced food that blew my mind with its creativity and taste. We decided to splurge and got the five-course meal with the accompanying wine menu.

Rather than just throw a bunch of adjectives at you about how amazing each course was, I will just tell you what we had and share a few pictures. And I do mean just a few pictures–everything was so good that I actually forgot to take any shots after the midway point in the meal. I can’t tell you about what we drank either other than to say it was all perfectly paired with each course.

To kick things off, we were given sourdough bread with Nordic cow butter. It was so good that we both kept having more, even though we knew that we had quite a meal ahead of us. And then there was an amuse-bouche with root vegetables. We were happy at this point, but then the first course came was seared scallops with seawood, crispy chicken skin and asparagus. And then we were hooked.

The second course was plaice with pointy cabbage, dill and cold cream. Next came the potato course. Of course they weren’t ordinary potatoes, but Danish potatoes with sprouts and juniper on top, potato foam and potato chips. The crunchy bits of texture in this dish and actually throughout the meal were just so dang good.

For the fourth course, it was flank steak with grilled onions, cucumber and BBQ sauce on the side. Dessert was licorice and apple cider sorbet, pickled lettuce and meringue with licorice powder. Different, yes. But so good. Everything was.

Radio is cozy, stylish and the decor is simple: Scandinavian cool with black tables and chairs and gray wood paneling on the walls. And if you are in Copenhagen, try to get a reservation.


Radio restaurant Sourdough bread with Nordic cow butter.


Radio restaurant Seared scallops with sea wood, crispy chicken skin and asparagus.


Copenhagen Danish potatoes, potato foam and potato chips with sprouts and juniper on top.


Copenhagen The dining room at Radio.





Aarhus, Denmark There’s a rainbow on top of the art museum in Aarhus.



SAS The Good Issue from Scandinavian Traveler is available on SAS planes now.


Aarhus Somewhere over the rainbow skies are blue.


Recently,  I was given one of the most fun writing assignments I’ve had in quite a while. My mission: to find happiness.  The premise behind all this was that Denmark is supposedly one of the happiest places on earth. So Scandinavian Traveler, the in-flight magazine for Scandinavian Airlines, sent me there to find out whether it lived up to the hype.

I had a fantastic time.

But of course you want to know if I found happiness. Well, read the article on the plane during the month of September. Or  check out the on-line version by clicking on this link.




Santorini The strong colors of these fishing boats in Ammoudi were perfect set against the volcanic rock and blue sea. (Click on the photo to view it in full.)


Santorini Fuchsia pink + Mediterranean blue. These are some of the colors I’m talking about.


Santorini was one of those places that made me want to be more creative. I wanted to stay much longer and write, paint, take photos. The sea air, sunny skies, volcanic rock, swimming in warm water and those Mediterranean blue colors juxtaposed against the stark white houses all came together into a perfect mixture of  inspiration.

More than anything, I think it was the bright intensity of the colors that worked for me. (That said, the sunlight was so bright that during the afternoon, my eyes were often teary unless I had a wide-brimmed hat on!) The colors were so strong, so vivid. I really just wished that I had my watercolor kit. Oh well, next time. Because yes, I have already decided that I need to go back.


Santorini: Ammoudi I loved how the bright orange of the chairs looked against the sea in the fishing village of Ammoudi.


Greece More blue/orange inspiration  in Santorini.


Santorini In addition to begin huge, the basil plants were very green. Here, morning prep is getting done at Mama Thira’s restaurant.


Santorini Riding around on an ATV– I dubbed it the green machine–was the perfect way to get around the island. And look at the the color of the sunlight.


Santorini Donkeys were the other preferred method of transport on the island. Even they were typically brightened up with color and had beaded bands on their heads.



Santorini dining Tomatokeftedes or tomato croquettes–often just called tomato balls– quickly became a favorite starter.


We ate well in Santorini. As the island is known for its wine, fava beans and cherry tomatoes, we did our best to sample all the local produce, along with fresh seafood, olives, cheeses and of course, Greek breads and pastries, and a few Greek salads thrown in for good measure, too.

All in all, we really liked the Santorini wine–a very mineral tasting white. And the fava was generally served mash as a kind of dip that was good with bread. As for the tomatoes, we often found them made into tomato croquettes and called tomatokeftedes or simply tomato balls. Made with cherry tomatoes, onion, garlic, parsley, oregano, salt, pepper and flour and then deep fried, I am sure that these tasty appetizers weren’t all that good for us, but they were really good. As for the seafood, it was amazingly fresh. For the most part, we ate right on the water and the fish had been caught that day. Actually, now that I think about it, we ate every meal outside and for the most part, with a water view. You can’t live much better than that!

Enjoy the pics…  (All are copyright © Sandra Carpenter 2015.)


Santorini The seafood in Ammoudi was super fresh. Click on the photo to see it unobstructed.


Sunset Ammoudi Our lunch at Sunset Ammoudi was literally right on the water. I got to choose which snapper I wanted to have grilled.


Sunset Ammoudi And with such a nice lunch view, how could we not have some wine to celebrate?


Mastelo The mastelo, a white goat cheese, was also good. At Fish Tavern, it was served warm with honey and sesame.


Santorini One of the many stops on my birthday was to do a “wine flight” at Santo Wines.


Santo Wines At Santo Wines, we tried Santorini Assyrtiko, Santorini Nykteri, Santorini Nykteri Reserve (one of our favorites), Kameni, Santo and Santorini Vinsanto. The wine flight came with cheese, fava beans, tomato spread and bread sticks. Yum.


Manos Small World Breakfast would be served at Manos after we stepped out the door onto our terrace. There was always fresh-squeezed orange juice, freshly baked bread and pastries, fruit and Greek yogurt.


Santorini birthday I was surprised with a chocolate birthday cake, complete with sparkler, twice. This one is from Onar Cafe Restaurant.


Santorini My birthday sunset view at Panorama Restaurant.


Santorini The ouzo was always served up with ice and olives–here it’s from Onar Cafe.


Santorini Cliffside living in Santorini. All photos copyright Sandra Carpenter 2015.


In what has become a bit of a tradition, Robert and I decided to take a last-minute trip for my birthday. The criteria for where we wanted to go included sunshine, warm temperatures, good food and wine. We then searched for where we could get inexpensively for a few days. The result was Santorini.

This was my first trip to Greece and I think I fell in love as soon as we landed. The island was true to what I imagined  it would look like: all those painted white houses stair-stepping down the cliff to the so very blue Mediterranean.  It was paradise.

Our hotel (Manos Small World) was in Firostefani and right on the rim of the caldera cliff. Thus it had spectacular views of the volcano that gave Santorini its shape as well as the surrounding village. It felt like there was a photo that needed to be taken no matter what way I looked.

And on top of all this, I was spoiled. Robert had let the hotel know it was my birthday and so there were red roses and wine waiting for us on arrival, as well as tea and cake. Now that’s nice service.

Santorini The view of the Mediterannean from our terrace.


Santorini Morning tea view from our hotel, Manos Small World.


Santorini The path to Fira.


Santorini Welcome cake from Manos Small World.


Santorini A break from the heat: Santorini wine and beer at To Kafenio Wine Bar.


Santorini It seemed that no matter where I looked, there was a beautiful view.


Santorini birthday Robert arranged for birthday wine and roses to be waiting for me in our room.





Katarina Bangata marknad Chanterelles were for sale at many of the booths at the Katarina Bangata market.


I returned home to Stockholm last week and since the weather is finally nice (by Stockholm standards at least), I decided to ease my transition back and worked at home for a few days before going into the office on Monday.

Thus I took the time to get work done, but also readjust to the time zone and finally enjoy some better weather here in Stockholm. After enduring the worst spring and summer weather we’ve had in quite a while, it’s felt like the right thing to do. So we’ve picnicked  out in the park behind our apartment, hung out with friends, bicycled, taken long walks, gone to the farmer’s market, cooked, baked a pie, read lots and in general just enjoyed myself.


crayfish Crayfish season has also begun and a kräftor booth had the right ingredients for a Stockholm party.


Katarina Bangata Just a few of my farmer’s market purchases.


pie It didn’t look great, but the blueberry pie I made with freely picked blueberries was fantastic.


Tantolunden A park blanket gin and tonic and a little inspiration before cooking dinner.


Cincinnati The Cincinnati skyline, as seen from Karen and Jay’s backyard with Theo the dog posing in the foreground.  Click on the photos to see them unobstructed. All photos copyright Sandra Carpenter.


Hot and sunny summer days. Big fluffy clouds that turn black and bring on thunder and lightening. Fireflies and the sound of lawnmowers.

Eating tomatoes and cucumbers right off the vine and getting fresh corn on the cob, green beans, peaches, blueberries and cherries from the farmer’s market.

Going to baseball games and doing the seventh inning stretch. Watching a polar bear cool off in the pool with a backstroke at the zoo. Having backyard BBQs and drinks outside with friends. Devouring raspberry chocolate chip ice cream and drinking gin & tonics, but not necessarily together.

Hanging out on the patio looking at the lake. Stopping at the neighborhood kids’ lemonade stands.

Sitting on car seats that stick to your legs and trying not to scratch my mosquito bites. Hating the air conditioned restaurants that freeze your fingers and toes in your warm weather clothes.

It’s summer at last. And that’s no thanks to you, Sweden. It’s all Cincinnati.

Reds baseball The Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati.


Cincinnati Findlay Market on a hot summer day.


Findlay Market Jalapeños for sale: $1 a box.


Cincinnati My niece Kate fending off the zoo alligator.




Major league baseball Even the buildings in downtown Cincinnati are decked out with a old-style baseball hat and mustache in honor of  the All Star game.


After an hour of pouring rain and tornado warnings, there’s still a low rumble of thunder in the distance here. The thunderstorms have happened several times in the days that I’ve been back home in Cincinnati. And while I have enjoyed them, they have been wrecking havoc with all the festivities going on in town for the baseball All Star Game, which will be played here on Tuesday.

I like the old-time look of all the banners, mustaches and signs around the city. They give a nice nod to Cincinnati’s legacy as the first professional baseball team.


Cincinnati This mustache is just one of the many that are all around town.


Cincinnati Reds Cincinnati’s Great American Ball Park, the major league baseball stadium.


Cincinnati Classic baseball.


Cincinnati Reds And another one of the ‘staches around town.


Cincinnati Street banners.