A Markel Family Santa Lucia Day

Santa Lucia Day is one of my favorite holidays! I love planning and preparing, especially when it comes to making the Lussekattes and setting up the night before:

The girls all still love dressing up, and while it may not be traditional, they all dress as Santa Lucia. This was the fifth year using the crowns I made for them!

We even had a Swedish dinner! I’m so glad St. Louis has an IKEA now, because it made planning our meal so much easier. We had Swedish meatballs with gravy, egg noodles, lingonberry juice, and for dessert, Swedish sandwich cookies, plus Dala Horse and Sour Viking candies:

We also read our favorite Santa Lucia stories today. It’s such a lovely holiday in the lead-up to Christmas, and one I look forward to all year long!

The IKEA Swedish Julbord

We had so much fun learning about Santa Lucia Day and Christmas in Sweden last week that I didn’t want it to end. Lucky for me, IKEA hosts a Swedish Julbord in their restaurant every year, and even luckier, we managed to get tickets even though we got there less than 30 minutes before the event began!

As soon as I saw Santa Lucia, the Lucia brides, and the lovely decorations, I knew it was going to be a special event.

And the food! There were so many options…thick-cut ham, Swedish meatballs, lingonberry sauce, gravlax with mustard sauce, pickled herring with a sour cream sauce, deviled eggs topped with shrimp, poached salmon under cucumbers, Swedish cucumber salad, red beet salad, sautéed red cabbage with apples, boiled potatoes, Swedish potato salad, Jansson’s Temptation, Swedish cheeses, fresh fruit, bread (including crisp, thin, and soft), hot Glögg, and lots of desserts, including apple cake and spiced ginger cookies.

I tried as many new-to-me foods as possible, and it was all good. Some things I loved, and some I enjoyed even if I wouldn’t seek them out intentionally on their own, but it was all quite tasty.

I don’t know if this is something we’ll try to make a part of our annual Christmas traditions, or if it was something fun to do just once, but I’m really glad we got to go, try some new foods, and celebrate Christmas in a fun and different way!

Chickadee Thursday

We stopped by church today, so the children could get a chance to help fold the bulletins. While we were there, Chickadee got to help Ladybug put the numbers on the hymn board for Sunday!

And a bonus picture from yesterday. Since Moose had a 1/2 day of school, we all went to visit IKEA in St. Louis. Chickadee and I had been there once in June, but the rest of the children were waiting to get their turn. So we made an afternoon of it, and walked around the whole store before having an early dinner of Swedish meatballs. Chickadee saw this picture of elephants while we were exploring, and made a beeline for it…after all this time, elephants are still her favorite animal, and she loved it!

IKEA St. Louis

It has (unbelievably!) already been almost two years since IKEA came to St. Louis. This was a BIG DEAL. Ever since we moved here over 16 years ago, rumors have circulated about a possible IKEA location, and in the end, they always turned out to be false. We almost didn’t believe it when the news finally came out that St. Louis was actually going to get an IKEA store! But in 2015 it opened, and there was much rejoicing. Even so, I didn’t actually make it there until I went with Chickadee earlier this summer.

We have driven by the store and seen it from the interstate lots of times, but that in no way prepared me for how massive the store is when you’re in the parking lot looking at it!

If the store colors aren’t reminiscent enough of the Swedish flag for you, there is an actual Swedish flag outside:

And once you walk in the door, you are warmly welcomed:

Did I mention how big the store is?!? The map was so intimidating, I almost turned around and left!

The store may be intimidating, but it is extremely well-planned and organized:

Did I mention it was intimidating? The self-serve furniture area puts big stores like Walmart and Lowe’s to shame!

The free lockers are an especially good idea:

And given how big the store is, I think having a planned rest area is really smart!

What I was really there for, however, was the food. I’ve heard about the cafeteria style restaurant and the Swedish meatballs, so I had to check it out. It was also extremely well-organized. In addition to the hot food line, there were also cold options, including some amazing looking desserts:

I especially loved the carts for people who might have multiple meal trays!

Chickadee and I had already eaten lunch, so we just got a side order of Swedish meatballs and a piece of Daim torte to share. We also tried the pear fruit water and the lingonberry drink. Everything was delicious (Chickadee LOVED the meatballs!), and it was SO CHEAP!!!

Here’s a look at the full Swedish meatball meal:

The store also has Swedish treats (to enjoy at home) for sale:

Once we had exhausted ourselves walking around the store, we were ready to head out, and we received a very friendly goodbye, as well!

While we were there, we bought some Swedish treats to bring home and share with everyone, so we got to have a full IKEA meal at home…Swedish meatballs with the amazing IKEA gravy, lingonberry drink, and Kakor Choklad:

I loved our visit to IKEA, and I can’t wait to go back with the whole family…it’s one of the few places I can think of where we can all have a nice walk, look at some interesting things, and enjoy a filling meal, all without breaking the bank…as long as we don’t decide to redecorate our entire house while we’re there!