Svanslös Crosswalk

Svanslös Crosswalk, showing an unusual “cat crossing” sign in the town of Uppsala, Sweden:

The road signs in front of Carolina Rediviva Library in Uppsala have something unusual: cats. On closer look, you might notice the adult cat leading kittens has no tail. He isn’t just an ordinary bobtail cat. He’s Pelle Svanslös (“Peter No-Tail” in English), a popular character from a children’s book series with the same name.

The Pelle Svanslös series—there are 12 books in total—was written by Gösta Knutsson between 1939 and 1972. As his name suggests, Pelle has no tail. A rat bit his tail off when he was a kitten. But despite this mean mishap, Pelle grows into a kind-hearted young cat. He has been loved by many Swedish children for decades.

Pelle and his feline friends live in Uppsala, Sweden, where the author also lived for many years of his life. To mark the cat’s popularity, Uppsala added some features related to the children’s literature star around the city, such as a statue, a peep-hole (his residence), and these crossing signs.

Daily Life in Winter

“The winter is so beautiful, and yet it can be so hard sometimes that it makes me cry happy-tears thinking about the summer. This winter has been extra hard. Crazy amounts of snow and extreme cold weather for over 3 weeks. It takes a lot of energy to keep up the normal life. But it also gives a lot of energy with all the beauty that the winter brings. It’s a love-hate relationship.

In this video I share glimpses of what I’ve been up to for the past month. Both the struggles, but also all the beautiful moments. I also share some behind the scenes of my previous video, when I went on a road trip to the very North of Sweden to record some footage.”

~ Jonna Jinton

Lucia Buns (Swedish Lussekatter)

½ gram saffron

1 cup whole milk

1 tablespoon active dry yeast

⅓ cup sugar, plus a pinch for proofing the yeast

3½ cups flour

½ cup sour cream

1 teaspoon table salt

4 tablespoons butter, softened

1 egg

1 tablespoon water

36 dried, sweetened cranberries

Swedish pearl sugar (optional, but so good – available at King Arthur Flour or Sur La Table) for sprinkling

On a small plate, grind the saffron with the back of a spoon until it is powdered. If you have a mortar and pestle, that will work wonderfully.

In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, heat the milk until just beginning to simmer. Remove the pan from the heat, add the saffron, and stir. Allow the mixture to cool to the temperature of a warm bath. When the milk is warm but not hot, add the yeast and a pinch of the sugar. Allow the mixture to sit until it is bubbling and has grown in volume, about 5 minutes

While the yeast mixture is proofing, in a large bowl with a wooden spoon or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, combine the sugar, flour, sour cream, and salt.

Add the yeast mixture, and knead until the dough is nice and smooth, and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

Add the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, and continue kneading the dough until it again pulls away from the sides of the bowl. It might seem like this is never going to happen, but all of a sudden, you’ll have a nice, smooth ball of dough.

Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow it to rise until doubled in size.

Punch down the risen dough, knead it briefly on a lightly floured counter, and divide the dough into eighteen equal portions.

Roll each piece of dough into a long, skinny strip, about 12 inches long. Roll the left end of the dough up and clockwise until it reaches the middle, then roll the right end down and clockwise until it reaches the middle. Your dough should now look like a very tightly rolled S.

Place the Ss on a parchment-lined baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and allow them to rise for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. While the buns are rising, in a small bowl, whisk together the egg and water. Just before baking, lightly brush the tops and sides of each lucia bun with the egg wash, place a cranberry at the center of each swirl, and sprinkle the tops with pearl sugar.

Bake the lucia buns for 8 minutes, or until they are puffed and golden. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and allow the buns to cool. Store leftovers in an airtight container.

The Wolf Song – Nordic Lullaby

This version of the lullaby from “Ronja Rövardotter / Ronia the robbers daugther” written by beloved Swedish writer, Astrid Lindgren, whose books have been read for children all over the world:

Lyrics in Swedish and English:

Vargen ylar i nattens skog
(The wolf is howling in the forest of the night)
Han vill men kan inte sova
(He wants to, but cannot sleep)
Hungern river i hans varga buk
(The hunger tears his wolven stomach)
Och det är kallt i hans stova
(And it’s cold in his burrow)

Du varg du varg, kom inte hit
(Wolf, wolf, don’t you come here)
Ungen min får du aldrig
( I will never let you take my child)

Vargen ylar i nattens skog
(The wolf is howling in the forest of the night)
Ylar av hunger o klagar
(Howling out of hunger and moaning)
Men jag ska ge’n en grisa svans
(But I will give him a pig tail)
Sånt passar i varga magar
(Which suits a wolven stomach)

Du varg du varg, kom inte hit
(Wolf, wolf, don’t you come here)
Ungen min får du aldrig
( I will never let you take my child)

…(First verse again)

Balancing Stones

“The very first time I tried balancing stones was back in 2010. I saw some stone sculptures in a park, when an old, wise man told me that it was a symbol for the balance of nature. I liked that idea, and after that I started making easy stone sculptures. After a while, I started experimenting with balance and I tried to make stone sculptures that had such small balance points so that it almost would look impossible. I really loved that. Both because it felt like a challenge, but also because it forced me to get really still and quiet, and focus on one thing only; to find the tiny, tiny balance point. It more and more turned into some kind of meditation.”

~ Jonna Jinton, Swedish artist, musician and filmmaker and I live in the beautiful woods in the North of Sweden