Saturday, 29 March 2008

I Heart Swedish Meatballs

So yesterday being Friday, husband was working from home. It's my day off too but I am not supposed to interrupt him, though obviously I do if at all possible. His study door stays firmly shut with a "Do Not Disturb" notice hanging from the doorknob. I view this as a challenge to get in there and cause havoc, my excuse being that as he is working away so often when I do have him at home I can't leave him alone for long. It drives him crazy.

The good news is that in the aftermath of last week's home improvements debacle, he is rapidly going off the idea of strapping on his toolbelt and getting stuck in personally. My subliminal put-off lines have been seeping into his subconscious mind throughout the week and now I think we've reached a stage where he too can't be arsed with the hassle of DIY. So, wishing to strike whilst the iron is hot, I needed him to come with me to one or two kitchen shops and view some units. With fridges. And sinks. And of course, cookers, or more specifically range ovens, with those trendy chimney thingies instead of the old-fashioned cooker hood that we currently have which threatens to put my eye out when I lean forward to stir the gravy. And I need his input re worktops - Formica, wood, marble? And of course, tiles.

Now I've discovered the only way to do anything as hideous as this is to suggest it whilst he is doing something else even more mind-bogglingly boring than looking at kitchens. Yesterday he was doing his expenses, a task so mundane that he needs multiple coffees throughout the morning in order to stay awake long enough to get the stamp on the envelope to Head Office. Coming up to lunchtime so bored is he that he's usually desperate for diversion, so if I want to distract him at all that is the best time to do it.

Coincidentally, my daughter is off work too. She has had a vile affliction called labrynthitis which brings with it dizziness, nausea and general debility. She's had this for a while but is now on the mend, thank goodness. It's ages since she's been out and about so she was getting a bit stir-crazy - there are only so many episodes of Bargain Hunt one can tolerate before madness sets in, so I asked her if she'd like to come along for the ride and look at kitchens with her Dad and me. Being so desperate to get out of the house, she said yes.

So off we go, visit a few showrooms and stare at a lot of kichens. The range is mind-boggling and very, very expensive. I'm not sure we're up for that sort of outlay, so Daughter comes up with an idea and suggests we go to Ikea where kitchens come in kits with cute names such as Ulriksdal and don't tend to cost as much as Third World Debt. And hey, it's Ikea, so what's not to love?

Now it's quite a long time since we've shopped at Ikea. Back in the days when our kids were small we kitted out bedrooms galore with Billy bookshelves and Leksvig beds, but we haven't been there for years despite the fact that a massive Ikea (is there any other kind?) is about half an hour's drive from home, so I don't really know why we've been away so long.

I LOVE IKEA. I love the fact that someone really clever can design a whole flat pack living area, including kitchen, bedroom, lounge and bathroom in the space of a double garage and it can still look incredibly trendy and welcoming. I love the way you get drawn round the winding walkways with lovely goodies either side, room settings containing stuff you don't need but which demands to be bought. Can anyone walk through and Ikea and buy nothing? Not me, for sure.

So impressed were we with the ingenious drawer dividers, the pull-out breakfast bars, the subtly lit glass shelved cupboards that we almost failed to notice Daughter looking a bit pale and wan. Her vertigo had obviously kicked in and her internal gyroscope was throwing a bit of a wobbler, making us wonder if this trip was just a step too far in her recovery process. She sat for a while on a sofa called Ektorp while I fussed around her. Shall we go home straight away? Was she hungry? How about a piece of chocolate cake to raise the blood sugar? She took one of her tablets and said that maybe a cup of tea might help. So off we went to the Ikea Cafeteria trailing a drugged-up daughter who was weaving around looking like she'd OD'd on tequilla slammers.

I've got just one thing to say to you about the Ikea Cafeteria.

Swedish meatballs with cream sauce, lingun-berry "jam" and thin fries.

Despite the fact that I was obviously concerned about my little girl's health and welfare (she is only thirty after all), I couldn't help but be distracted by the pictures of very appetising looking food at very reasonable prices displayed around the servery in the cafeteria. I checked again to see if she was hungry, but the mention of meatballs in cream sauce made her go even paler than before, and anyway she was feeling better now, courtesy of a very sweet hot chocolate. She was fine and ready to continue. And no thanks, she didn't want anything to eat, at all. No Mum, definitely not. Couldn't face it.

But I just couldn't get those meatballs out of my mind, which is very strange for me because I am usually a bit sniffy about factory produced processed meat-products, especially frozen ones, declaring this type of food "nuclear waste" and refusing to have such spawn-of-the-Devil in the house. (If you've ever seen those programmes about how such meat is "reclaimed", you'll know exactly what I mean). But husband assured me that, being Swedish, the food standard would be high, the ingredients would be wholesome and the meatballs would be great. Apart from which, he fancied them too.

So in our large blue recycled Ikea carrier bag, alongside the kitchen brochures, we had one manly looking apron, one matching oven glove, one three way plug adapter with timer, twenty-four Dime bars, 1 kg of frozen Kottbullar Swedish meatballs, two packets of Graddsas cream "gravy" mix and a jar of Lingonsylt lingunberry jam - all for less than fifteen of your English pounds.

And even better, husband says he'll cook so that he can use his new apron and oven-glove, while I browse through the kitchen brochures.



Casdok said...

Great result!!
Im an Ikea fan too!

Lola said...

I sneer at Habitat for being too posh, I aspire to John Lewis, but end up with Ikea. My bookcases are Bonde. Have you tried the salty liquorice? My suggestion is: Don't.

Milton Jones (comedian) says he used to work at Ikea. He says he can remember every item in the catalogue, "go on, give me a number," he asks the audience. Someone shouts out a number. He comes back straight away: "Out of stock."

Swearing Mother said...

Casdok, think it's an addiction!

Hi Lola, how's life in lovely Leamington? Will avoid salty liquorice on your recommendation, but those meatballs were gorgeous.


I most definitely think you should heart hubby's expenses too!

Don't suppose he could stay home and do them more often - it sounds like you'd get lots done round the house if he does !

Journey of Truth said...

I don't know how I have managed to have only been in IKEA once. Once! I was with my hubby and kids. It's a fabulous place and I wanted to shop! I think hubby saw the "deer in headlights" I became and rushed us out of there quite quickly! I haven't been back, because: A) the one in College Park - I'd have to figure out how to get there even though folks say it's easy as pie, and B) the one in Whitemarsh - there's a stupid toll to pay both ways - about four bucks! I hate to drive in the Baltimore/D.C. area and avoid it as much as possible. I guess I should pull up my britches and just drive!

Hope your daughter gets better soon!

Maggie May said...

So you're no nearer to getting the kitchen done but full of meat balls!
Flat packs are not easy to put together, though & other people must feel the same because there is a firm who comes out to rescue people who can't put the things together ... for a price mind you! They do nothing else but travel to people's homes to assemble or put right other folk's attempts, (& save people's marriages), as it the one thing that many couples can't do ..... decide on the first step of flat pack assembly, without killing each other!
Have you tried it?

laurie said...

i have never been to Ikea, but coincidentally with you, Doug is headed there right this minute!

his mother has moved into a senior apartment, and she needs a new (very small) dinette set.

he didn't want to wait for me to exercise and shower, so i'm missing what might be my only opportunity ever to go to Ikea.

Swearing Mother said...

Hi Mzungu Chick, let's hear it for expenses! At least we've been looking at kitchens in his lunch hour.

Hello Journey of Truth, if I had to drive to Ikea myself I guess I'd never go either. It's only a short distance but the traffic queues are huge and I haven't got the patience for them.

Hi Maggie May, we're getting some good ideas together and the meatballs were such a plus!

Oh Laurie, that's a shame, but at least you won't end up with tons of bits and pieces that you didn't need in the first place and can't fit in your home anyway. Ikea's like that, compulsive.

the mother of this lot said...

I knew there'd be a few Dime bars in there somewhere! Since I seem to be the only one concerned, hope your 'little girl' is feeling better abd that her mother managed to drag herself away from the meatballs long enough to look after her!

Tina said...

How on earth did you get out without a bag of those tealight candle things? I thought they were compulsory.

I have about 200 of them. Bags, not candles.

OvaGirl said...

I think Ikea must be the most terrifying place in the world for a sufferer of labyrinthitis... and yes, no such thing as a less than massive Ikea. Ido like their free little pencils and paper measuring tapes.

Sweet Irene said...

My husband loves the Ikea meatballs in the cafeteria and, whenever we go there, they are his reward for a good round of shopping. I love Ikea products and we have many of them in our apartment. I think they are the best invention since the Holy Sabbath, because they are even open on Sundays when many shops in the Netherlands are not.

CrazyCath said...

What a result!
Can you train me to train mine?
Perfect. :0)

Swearing Mother said...

Hi MOTL, she's getting better slowly thanks. Regular Dime bar dosage is helping.

Tina, have already got a pantry full of those tealights, but forgot to mention several packs of lime green table napkins, only 50p a pack!

Ovagirl, hi! You mean those little pencils and tapes are free? Damn, must go back and get some.

Hello Sweet Irene, IKEA on a Sunday is my idea of hell, the traffic queue takes longer than the shop.

Hi Cath, it just takes persistence and guile. I am a natural.

Kaycie said...

The closest IKEA to us is a three or four hour drive away. Sigh. I am reduced to buying online.

Swearing Mother said...

Probably best, Kaycie, then you can avoid the lure of the meatballs.

Suzy said...

Too bad we just couldn't move right into IKEA.



Expatmum said...

Ah IKEA. There aren't many in the US, and the nearest one to me is an hour's drive each way. I just can't face it. Will have to wait until I go to my mother's in the summer. She lives about a ten minute drive from one. Then of course, I can't buy anything too big because I have to ship it back to the States. Oh no.

the mother of this lot said...

DO NOT buy Tesco's meatballs in gravy on the grounds that you have just read swearing mothers post and would kill for some IKEA meatballs. There is no comparison.

Swearing Mother said...

Suzy, it would be great apart from the crowds at the weekends.

Expatmum, guess that's the same sort of thing as not being able to get bacon and marmalade.

Hi MOTL, no, you are quite right. There just ain't no substitute for the real thing. Do they do them mail order?

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

Isn't Ikea one of the inner circles of hell? It is in my house. Still, sounds like you had a nice day out, and what's wrong with the herring mopheads (or is it mophead herring?). Let us know how you progress with the kitchen. I'm terribly nosey, you know.

travelling, but not in love said...

I heart meatballs and I heart Ikea too, but prefer to call it Dykea, on account of the way that there's always a lesbianic couple arguing in there somewhere (usually over light fittings, it has to be said).

Anyway, their kitchens are good - you should go for it.

My Mom had suspected Labyrinthitis a while back - turned out to be a mild form of epilepsy. It's all very much under control now though.

And can I just say, I had a curious encounter once with a man in a tool belt (in Washington DC, but five miles from the White House). He was only wearing a tool belt. Nothing else. It was quite disconcerting.....

Mid-lifer said...

I LOVE IKEA too..where we used to live in Abu Dhabi they had one in the shopping mall - you could just walk in and it was always wonderfully empty. I'd always come out with an array of random stuff I never knew I needed but were so damn cheap! ah...those were the days.

Don't know if i dare brave one over here..

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

I HATE SHOPPING! ABSOLUTELY HATE IT. The gene passed me by. I can't even understand people that go window shopping when they don't have any money. I would rather have my piles clipped than go shopping. Am I making my point here?!

But.....IKEA YES, YES, YES.. For anything inexpensive, quirky,throwawayable and replaceable. I am with Tina on the compulsive need to leave with a stack of tealights and various scented candles! It is a great place if you want to spend less than you normally would and you don't feel the pinch.

I hate the psychology of having to snake around every department forcing those impulse buys so my husband and I take the shortcuts through the little known hidden doors that are legally required for the fire safety. We can get through there in a quarter of the time that is normally expected!

Good for us as we probably save a whole tenner at the same time!

Swearing Mother said...

Hi Wakeup, herring mopheads, yeuk. Don't like the sound of them at all. Did you mean rollmop herrings, I hear they're delicious.

Kitchen progress coming along slowly. I am trying to decide between cottagey or Shaker at the moment. Think I might have a Rangemaster cooker, but then I might have to cook actual food which might be a disadvantage.

I feel a post coming on about this. Ta for the idea.

Travelling, I might have known you would have already had an encounter with a bloke with a toolbelt, sans other clothes. Get that book started!

Mid-lifer, it must have been strange being able to just walk in to an Ikea without a two hour pilgrimage first. How weird.

MOB: You hate shopping? How can that be? Just don't understand that at really don't like shopping? At all? Are you unwell?