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.


Saturday market Copenhagen’s meat packing district.


I’m a big fan of Danish food, fashion and furniture, so going to Copenhagen always makes me happy. My friend Zanne and I went for a weekend at the end of June, and this time was no different on the fun factor–in fact, we had a blast.

A big highlight of the trip was the food and on Saturday afternoon, we went to the market in the meatpacking district – known in Danish as Kødbyens Mad & Marked. Even though the day was gray and it was often raining, the market was hopping and the atmosphere friendly.

Good music was playing and vendors were selling everything from Danish beer and cocktails to Mexican tacos, Korean bao and British fish and chips to a whole roast pig, baked breads and buns and garden-fresh vegetables and flowers. There was an amazingly good combination of international goodies to try, so we did our best to sample as many as we could.

Copenhagen market Making cocktails at Kung Fu.


Copenhagen market The tasty pork bao from the Kung Fu market stall.


Copenhagen market Market menu.


Copenhagen market Champagne tasting.


Copenhagen market Box of flowers.


Copenhagen market Vores baked goods.


Copenhagen market Rocket Brewing Company beers.


Copenhagen market Adelitas Mexican: hecho con amor.


Copenhagen market English-style fish and chips.


Stockholm A slice of the after dinner rainbow this evening. Click not he photo to see the image in full. All photos copyright Sandra Carpenter.


There’s been a LOT of talk about the weather in Stockholm lately. Basically, May went down as either: A) the coldest and wettest in 100 years or B) the coldest and wettest in 50 years, depending on what source you read. And June has not fared much better.

The warmest days we’ve had so far were 24 c and well, there were only two of those. It’s just not what I call summer weather.  And while I’ve made my peace with temperatures not being what I prefer, all this rain has meant that I have not gotten to enjoy the long hours of light as much as I would like. I live for the long hours of daylight this time of year.

We did our annual midsummer celebration at Nici and Roger’s home on the water last week. It was not only rainy, but cold too. So while we managed to stay outside in a tent for a good part of the day, we were all bundled up in warm coats and blankets.

On the balcony tonight, we were enjoying the gorgeous color of the light. Then it started raining. Again. Oh well. At least there was a full rainbow and it was a double, as you can see in the image at the top of the page.

So that brings me to Swedish summer. So far this year, warm weather has just been something I’ve longed for. But what I do love about even a not-so-summery summer in Stockholm: the fact that even though it’s raining right now, sailboats are still going by, that even though temperatures are cool, people are still picnicking and eating outside–but with warm clothing on and blankets, as you can see in these photos from midsummer.


Stockholm The light at midnight on midsummer.


Stockholm Toasting midsommar in spite of the chilly temps.


Stockholm Boat traffic outside my front window, 11 pm on a Monday.


Stockholm Big clouds on midsummer.


midsommar in Stockholm Cheers!


Stockholm Just after a rain shower, midsummer.



sculpture by the sea Den Uendelige Bro (The Endless Bridge) by Johan Gjode and Niels Povlsgaard. Click on the photo to see the full image. All photos copyright Sandra Carpenter.


Sculpture by the sea Volatile Structure VI by Geraldo Zamproni.


By the sea, along the beach and through the forest. That’s where the art show was that I went to yesterday.  I’ve been in Aarhus, Denmark for an article assignment and I was lucky enough to be in town for the opening day of Sculpture by the sea.

This show is a unique outdoor sculpture exhibition that is set up along the coast of Aarhus. It’s free, catalogs are available for purchase if you want to know more and you can look at the sculptures any time during the day or night for the next month. And of course, the “gallery” itself provides a perfect setting to enjoy the work of 56 different artists from around the world.

It was Danish national day, so people were out picnicking, walking, jogging and just hanging out with the sculptures, and depending on the piece and if you were allowed to, they were sitting and climbing on and under them and even kissing one.  This is the fourth exhibition of its kind in Denmark and it happens every other year. It’s modeled on a concept from Australia which started in Sydney in 1997. Crown Princess Mary is from Australia and brought the idea to Denmark together with her husband Crown Prince Frederik.

I love the idea and the execution of the show and if you are in Aarhus, it is well worth checking out!



Sculpture by the sea Horizon by Lucy Humphrey.


Sculpture by the sea Inner Sanctum by Ron Robertson-Swann.


Sculpture by the sea Give me a kiss by Qian Sihua.


Sculpture by the sea Divine three winds by Norbert Francis Attard.


Sculpture by the sea Divided Planet by Jorg Plickat.


sculpture by the sea Kakashi by Zilvinas Kempinas.



Stockholm There have been rainbows almost every evening lately. Click on the photo to see it unobstructed. All photos copyright Sandra Carpenter.


Even after living in Sweden for a decade, I’m still filled with wonder by the long days of summer light. Sunshine wakes me up somewhere around 3.30 to 4 am these days. I go back to sleep, then wake up with a start, worried that since the sun is so very bright in my bedroom, I must be late for work. But it’s only 4.45 am.

So I put on my eye shades and am so happy that I can still sleep for a while longer before having to get up. But then I am checking the clock again very soon. It’s a little frustrating because I am definitely NOT getting enough sleep these days. But mostly, I am too excited to sleep any more. Like a kid at Christmas eager to check out the presents under the tree, the light beckons me to leave my bed and start the day.

By the way, the official sunrise time for today in Stockholm is 4am. But the sky is light much earlier than that, of course. It’s all rather glorious.


Stockholm Garden colony house in yellow.


Stockholm Riddarholmen.


Stockholm Pink clouds at sunset.


balcony garden Both the hanging boxes of daisies have grown a lot in the last week. Click on the photo to see it without the blog roll on top of it. All photos copyright Sandra Carpenter.


balcony garden Basil, chives, lettuce, mint.


Last weekend, we bought all sorts of flowers, tomatoes, lettuce, basil, cucumber, chili pepper, capsicum, mint, chives, strawberries and planted them in containers on our balcony. This weekend, we bought an IKEA table and chairs for the space. Then Robert spent hours assembling all the pieces from the flat packs. Now we are waiting for it to stop raining so that we can move all of it outside.

Maybe it doesn’t sound like much, but it’s been such a “right” thing to do. We lived in limbo for so long, moving from one temporary apartment to another. Over and over again. Somehow, incongruously, we spent four years moving from one second-hand rental to the next. We lived in way too many temporary places. (You can read about one of the move stories here.)

It wore us down in every way possible: emotionally, financially and more. We knew that we needed to buy a place.  But it got to the point where even looking for an apartment to buy became a chore. After we finally bought and moved into our own place in October, it took awhile for us to settle down. Looking back, I think we just needed time to recover. So we moved stuff in, but didn’t do any decorating for the most part. I mean, things were arranged, but we only hung a picture or two on hooks that were already there. We didn’t add our own touches. Until now.

That’s why planting made me so darn happy. Dare I say it? It felt like we are putting down roots. At last.


rain delay As we wait for a break in the rain, the newly built balcony chairs are scattered around the apartment.


balcony garden Cherry tomatoes and peppers.


balcony garden Tomatoes and cucumbers.