Tuesday, July 12, 2016

vegan hallongrottor cookies

These simple cookies are a classic Swedish bake which is originally called 'hallongrottor' (ie 'raspberry caves'), and not thumbprint cookies as they are commonly known as abroad. To be honest I've never been a great fan, they're a bit granny-ish, not very exciting and difficult to get just right in texture if you (like me) prefer them a bit chewy.

However, after discovering there is now a liquid dairy free butter available that doesn't contain palm-oil (!) I felt I had to try a bit of baking with it. And simple cookies with few ingredients would be the perfect choice. So I made these. And I was surprised at how easy they was to make and how adorable they turned out. Not chewy alas, but still quite nice with a cup of tea and a good book.

The original flavour is vanilla, but I tried making them in a chocolate version too. But I have to say that the usual match made in heaven combo of chocolate and raspberries wasn't a hit.

~30 cookies

200 g dairy-free liquid butter (I used the one from Coop)
1 dl caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla sugar
4,5 dl white flour
raspberry jam (I love the jam from ICA, so much raspberry flavour)

(if you want to make them in chocolate add 1 tbsp cacao)

Set the oven to 175C.

Whisk the butter, sugar and vanilla sugar (and cacao) together. Then add the flour and gently whisk together into a smooth dough. 

Roll them into ~30 small balls on a baking-plate with baking sheet. Use your thumb to imprint a small 'cave' and fill them with a dollop of raspberry jam (about 0,5 tsp per cookie).

Bake them for around 12 minutes. Let them cool on sheet. Enjoy! Freeze well too.

Friday, July 08, 2016

the thoughtful life

It's been a while since I last blogged. The (over)thinking, living, worrying, figuring out, problem solving, planning process does take a lot of time. And not every day is very productive in regards of that. But I also believe that I have every right to be kind to myself when it comes to rest and relaxation. So with that in mind the progress of redefining myself is slow. Or perhaps this is just what it is, must be, a mix of faster and slower days - 

though to be honest (and what's the point of not being that, life is short...) I blame the slowness pretty much on the summer public transportation chaos for us stockholmers depending on commuter trains. I wish I could simply take the train to the city, as usual, have a change of scenery, go for walks, sit myself down on a bench or a lawn, look at different views and think, plan, look ahead. But I can't, because the chaotic stress of the replacement buses I've limited my trips to the city to max twice per week. And I always know that those days there will be a lot of hassle and time spent on hot buses, bad communication, cranky people and overall a lot of nuisance, so the change of scenery and inspiration always comes at the cost of stress and exhaustion. But there's only so much enjoyment and inspiration you can get, despite this being a beautiful suburb, from walking the similar routes with no change of scenery and being pretty much a social recluse. 

If you don't have a car or driver's license - which I usually don't miss - this really highlights how incredibly reliant you are on the public transportation working flawlessly. Especially in a period of very special circumstances.

Of course this too shall pass. And for that reason I do immensly look forward to August 8 when the trains are on again and the daily travel limitations are lifted. But I'm also sad that most of the summer will then have gone by without me really being able to enjoy it the way I would so have wanted to.

By then I will have read a lot of books though.

for things to sink in and change, real change, progress, to happen.

Since my life currently, and more than ever, revolves a lot about thinking and processing, analyzing and planning I find that the little things and delights I used to blog about seem so trivial. That by writing about them - 

How I really enjoy my new organic morning muesli.
How I took the time to complain to the customer service about the annoying time spent trying to pay for my fika with partly coffee card partly with a regular card resulted in me getting a generous amount of money refunded to my coffee card.
How I really would love to get the most adorable, happy budgie skirt but that the current financial situation doesn't allow such frivolities.
How I actually did get a cute narrow pleats skirt dress the other week which practically costed nothing since I was able to pay for it with 'vintage money' (ie a voucher check for returning old clothes I no longer use. It's a Gudrun Sjödén thing.). A dress I had no idea about if I hadn't seen it on a friend's Instagram. A dress that was sold out both online and in most stores but that I walked all over town to different shops and was able to find the right size in the perfect colour. A colour I didn't know was perfect until I tried it on.
How happy I am that there's now a liquid non dairy butter/oil (with no palm oil) which makes baking vegan so much easier and tastier.
How grown up I felt when I, after the initial hysteria, managed to sort out all by myself what was wrong with my iPhone touch display which made the phone unusable. And that the following week's major issues with the mobile internet connection not working made me finally unsubscribe from the overpriced subscription. That I did my research and realised that other companies offer much better deals. And that they have much better customer services. That I just went with my gut feeling of enough is enough. 
How amazingly delicious sesame seed breaded tofu is.
The sheer joy of welcoming the first hedgehog of 2016 in the garden.

- I trivialize the really important things and feelings.

But life really is made up of both true tragedies, unexpected incidents, life turning accidents as well as seemingly minor matters and silly luxuary problems. And that one probably wouldn't be able to cope with the former if the latter didn't exist.

I'm also struggling with two recurrent worries. One is obviously the 'this will not be a fair and decent aftermath' since I have no legal status. And how easy that worry could be solved by being open and honest in communicating and status updates (phone calls and emails). Instead I am left completely clueless on how things are progressing. And the scenarios of the hows and the whys are playing on repeat in my head. 

Should I simply close the social doors to that part of my life, the shared memories of M, just focus forward and only trust my own problem solving capacity? Or should I be open to the possibility of good will and fairness from there? Both alternatives have positive and negative implications. And honestly, my gut feeling sways from day to day. I just wish I didn't have to spend so much time worrying. Or let myself worry. Perhaps needlessly so, perhaps not.

The other worry is in the shape of how much should I actively push forward and how much should I just let myself relax and have faith (in an atheist way of course) that solutions will come when they are needed? 

And which active solution is the right one, do I really want to be employed again or should I simply adopt an aggressive (oh noes) approach looking for more clients? Granted it was really nice to get a paycheck after my May gig, not having to deal with employment taxes and such. But I know in my heart that running my own business and being a freelancer has made me so happy over these past few years. However the uninevitable unstable income curve is not something I can afford or work through now. For me getting back to financial stability is a key factor to healing. And growing.

And that's how far I've come on the path of redefining myself. Some things are out of my control, others are not. Figuring out how and what to procede with now - what can I do to worry less, and which approach is best in both short and longterm ways? Can I do something more, else, different than I already do? - I guess that's what the summer of 2016, the summer of chaotic public transport, is for.

Monday, June 27, 2016

quantum wellness

Seven years ago I bought 'Quantum Wellness' by Kathy Freston after seeing her on Oprah. She struck me as very inspirational, kind and full of good thoughts as well as having a practical approach with ideas for a better world for all. But as I'm not very big on self help books (understatement of the year), despite this one sounding so very good, I never got around to reading it.

Until now. When I rummaged through one of my big book boxes the other week for something light and feelgood to read, I picked this up and realised that actually being in a life crisis and in the process of redefining myself this would be a great time to finally start reading this bestseller.

And you now what. I'm so very glad I did. It's a wonderful wonderful book. Which has taken me on a meaningful journey from page to page. And I love how it in so many ways talk about views, values, things and facts I already live by - 

I can't begin to tell you how fantastic the feeling is when you read, talk with and hear about people who has the same approach to life as oneself! I get all soft and mushy inside, more than a bit teary actually. And given this book is a bestseller it must have touched many people's hearts with its kind wisdom

and at the same time show me new holistic ways to improve my lifestyle and way of thinking in order to move on, move up. Some chapters of course speak to me much more than others (and as an atheist I would have prefered less deity-references, but it's all done in a very kind-hearted non-pointer way), but as everything is connected - no pun intended - I chose to read it from page to page anyway. And yes, there are a lot of scribbles all throughout the book. I will go back and read those again and again and again. In the end of the book there are also a lot of recommended reading, books and research reports. Ie 'Quantum Wellness' is so much more than a simplistic self-help book.

For me personally, to be honest, these past couple of weeks have not been good. Despite fine things, experiences and people there are a lot of worries and brooding. Financial. Practical. Life choices. And sometimes there's only so much mindfullness and resilience can do to keep those worries at bay.

I'm so grateful I found this book when I most needed it. It has given me not only wisdom and kindness but also tools and thoughts on how to deal with this still ongoing emotional roller-coaster - and how quickly those ups and downs can come during one single day still surprise me... - after three plus months. Which I suppose is really no time at all, after almost 27 years.

The fact that the commuter trains out here are replaced by buses until August 8, which is very inconvenient and stressful, currently limits me when it comes to being tourist in my own summer city alas. So instead I'm doing a lot of well-needed pottering around the house and garden - money saving activities, hooray - thinking, planning, focusing (well sort of), walking, healing and reading. To be honest though, again, the downside is that it's very easy to become rather unsociable like this, thus I force myself doing a bit of socializing and actual see and talk with people (not only cats), not simply texting or emailing, now and then.

But so far I think, given all the different circumstances, summer has been good for my healing process. (Even if some days it really really doesn't feel like that.) Of course I would love to be in another emotional and financial place in life, but turning back the clock is not an option for neither. So I'm pondering, pottering, planning and slowly leaning into wellness and the future as I see it.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

my guide to stockholm

First of all, welcome to Stockholm, the capital of Scandinavia!

The city consists of seven major districts; Norrmalm, Östermalm, Södermalm, Kungsholmen, Vasastan, Gamla Stan (Old Town) and Djurgården. Read more about them here but also keep in mind that the post is from 2007 so a lot has changed since...

Second of all, I really recommend you buy a travel card, they come in different variations but one thing they have in common is that they are much cheaper compared to single tickets which basically are a rip-off. You can't buy travel cards or tickets on buses and trains anymore so make sure you have your fair in order before stepping on the trains, trams or buses because the penalties can be pretty steep. Having a travel card is the cheapest and best way to get around the city and its suburbs.

And please skip the sightseeing buses, they are appalingly bad and expensive, the routes taken unimaginative and the stories told via the headphones (if they work) ridiculously obsolete.

Instead get a good guide-book (or guide) and make your own way around the city. I strongly recommend you take the Tvärbanan tram for a really lovely suburb tour with views and different architectural styles. The Nockebybanan, Saltsjöbanan, Lidingöbanan and Roslagsbanan are other nice trams/commuter train lines too. And of course, being slightly biased, I think the commuter trains are a great way to see more of Stockholm suburbs too. Just beware that a June 11 - August 8 a fair bit of its northern lines are replaced by buses which is very inconvenient and stressful (I know this too well, it's *my* part of the commuter train lines that's affected).

I also think hopping on and off the regular blue inner city buses 1, 2, 3 and 4 is a great way to experience the inner city.

Yes, there is a subway system in Stockholm too, I rarely use it these days, for various reasons. I prefer buses, which I find is a much nicer and convenient way to get you from A to B. And seeing lots of the city while doing it.

Don's miss the Sjövägen (Lakeway) ferryboat which takes you from Nybroplan to the Nacka suburbs and even out to Lidingö on some tours, and back. It's a really affordable (since it's part of the public transport SL it's included in the regular travel card) way to see the city from the lakeside and you can hop on and hop off where you like.

This is a very condensed list of the one in Swedish on Yelp.


Skogskyrkogården (The Woodland Cemetery) - this is my number 1 favourite place in Stockholm. A Unesco World Heritage site of immense beauty and serenity all year round. Nearby you'll find cafés such as Enskede Bakgård and Gamla Enskede Bageri.

Stockholm City Hall - one of the most beautiful buildings in Stockholm. Host to the Nobel Prize ceremonies. Wonderful city views and if you dare venture up the tower it'll be even grander. DOn't miss the unpretentious cafe just outside the walls where you can enjoy a cool/wamr drink, icecreams and sandwiches in beach chairs by the water. A stone's throw from the Central Station.

Gamla stan + Järnpojken - the charming medieval part of Stockholm where everything begun. The main street Västerlånggatan is basically just a sad sight full of tourist traps and shops full of junk these days. But do head up to Stortorget and meander your way down narrow alleyways, Köpmannagatan and Österlånggatan for more authentic shops, cafes and restaurants. Do not miss the little statue Järnpojken (The Little Iron Boy), tucked away in the courtyard of the Finnish church. In Gamla Stan (Old Town) you'll find the lovely animal art shop Charlotte Nicolin and cafes like Grillska Husets Brödbod (sit on the rooftop veranda!) and Under Kastanjen.

Djurgården + Djurgårdsfärjan - take the tram, bus or the lovely ferry Djurgårdsfärjan (included in your travel card) to the beautiful, lush island part of the city where you'll also find attractions like Gröna Lund amusement park, Nordiska museet, Vasamuseet, Waldemarsudde, Thielska galleriet and not least wonderful nursery and cafe Rosendals trädgård.

Norra begravningsplatsen - another beautiful, but more old fashioned, cemetery in the northern outskirts of the inner city, a stone's throw from Karolinska hospital and Hagaparken.

Drottningholm castle - another Unesco World Heritage Site in Stockholm, this mini-Versailles on the island of Ekerö in the suburbs is well worth a visit. A boat or bus will take you here. This is also where Sweden's monarchy lives, not in the palace in Gamla Stan. But since I'm a hard-core republican (anti-monarchist) that is most certainly not a feature I'm interested in. Don't miss the pretty little Kina slott and the nearby waffle house.

Stockholms stadsbibliotek - our beautiful city library, full of not only books but also ambiance and quirky architectural features galore. Nearby you'll find Café Himlavalvet and vegetarian restaurants Lao Wai, Organic Green and Kokyo.


Monteliusvägen - near Mariatorget you'll find this gem of a walking path with outstanding views over the city. If you're lucky you can find a spot to sit down and have your picnic lunch/fika here too.

Katarinahissen + Fjällgatan - the elevator itself is no longer in use with the extensive construction works at Slussen, but you can walk out on it from Mosebacke torg and have a grand view over Stockholm and also walk/take the bus up on nearby Fjällgatan street,

Norr Mälarstrand - this is on the opposite side of the lake Mälaren from Monteliusvägen and Södermalm, at the Kungsholmen side you'll see Söder and at the end of Norr Mälarstrand you'll find Stadshuset.

Västerbron - if you are a really keen walker you can actually walk all in a long circle from Monteliusvägen, Gamla Stan, Stadshuset, Norr Mälarstrand and up on the large Västerbron bridge and continue down to Hornstull and then up Hornsgatan back to Mariatorget.

Högalidskyrkan - in my old childhood hoods of Hornstull you'll find this spectacular church which its twin towers that can be seen near and far over Stockholm. Some days they have guided tours up into the towers and that's well worth your time. A bit scary, endlessly interesting and the views at the very top is spectacular.


Needless to say, all these are all vegetarian/vegan or vegetarian/vegan friendly.

Falafelbaren - (Söder) best falafel in town? They have two locations now, but the original one is the only one I've visited so far, near Mariatorget.

Green Peas - (Kungsholmen), great vegetarian and vegan food, open both for lunch and dinner. Don't miss their fresh springrolls with tofu, delicious!

Gro - two creative chefs in a minimalistic restaurant with about 20 seats serving organic food pretty as a picture. It used to be a popular lunch restaurant, with at least one vegetarian option on the menu, but now they only serve dinner Tues-Sat. One omnivore and one vegivore tasting menu are the only options, but you will not be disappointed. If you ask well ahead they can make a vegan option.

Indian Street food & Co. - (Vasastan) foodtruck turned lunch restaurant. One gem I found at my latest gig in the hoods and quite probably the best Indian food I've had in Stockholm, brimming with flavours. The menu is short, only four dishes, where one is vegetarian, one is vegan and two are for non-vegetarians.

Lao Wai - (Vasastan) Near Stadsbiblioteket you'll find this miniscule, popular restaurant that serve Asian, vegan food making their own soy and tofu dishes. Open for lunch and dinner, booking a table for dinner is essential. Don't miss their fantastic soymilk cappuccino and amazing ice cream.

Légumes - (Söder) situated at Bysistorget square near Monteliusgången and Falafelbaren, this is a classic vegetarian/vegan buffet restaurant. I only discovered it a few years ago because I've always shyed away from it due to the shabby interior. The food is very affordable and flavoursome. Always fresh since you point and they ladle your plate with all you can eat and refills. (Imho much better food and value for money than Herman's at Fjällgatan, minus the views.)

Kalf & Hansen - (Söder) at corner Mariatorget/Hornsgatan you'll find this little organic, healthy fastfood restaurant with many vegan options. Award-winning place run by wellknown Danish chef father and son duo. Great picnic food too.

Kokyo - (Vasastan, near Stadsbiblioteket) Chinese restaurant with a generous vegan menu. They make their own tofu and it's delicious. Open both for lunch and dinner.

Minh Mat - (Vasastan) Popular Vietnamese restaurant with lots of delicous vegan options. Open both for lunch and dinner, one vegan dish on the lunch menu, more in the evenings. My favourite is the dishes with the (organic) tofu, noodles and their fantastic soy sauce. Bookings for dinner is essential.

Organic Green - (Vasastan/Norrmalm, near Stadsbiblioteket) Affordable, generous, no fuss, tasty vegan/vegetarian food.

Wagamama - (Norrmalm, adjacent to Centralstationen)British chain-restaurant with a lovely array of vegetarian (and vegan if you ask) dishes on the menu. My favourite is the Pad Thai Yasai. They used to have a divine seaweed salad starter, but alas no more. Their freshly made juices are great too, ask for more ginger in the carrot ginger one.


Älskade traditioner - (Söder) currently my number one cafe crush in Stockholm, this retro cafe should not be missed. Very popular and not only amongst the hipsters who roam the area. Their speciality is wraffles, filled food waffles (my favourite is the one with hummus, beetroot and coleslaw) and dessert waffles. There are vegan options for both food and fika. Their breakfast (small, medium, large) is lovely and don't miss the yummy cinnamon buns.

Borgs Café & Brödbod - (Vasastan) Cute cafe with an interior made up with missmatched thrifted furniture. Fika, sandwiches and salads.

Chic - (Söder/Mariatorget) Very unpretentious, liberatingly non-hipster cafe with good fika, salads and sandwiches.

Espresso House Vasagatan + Sheraton - (Norrmalm) You will find the Swedish coffee chain Espresso House all over Stockholm, but their coffee is so much better than all the other chains (and Starbuck's, really, their coffee quality is so poor compared to most any other coffee chain in Sweden). Usually very friendly staff and cosy interior, free Wi-Fi so good for working (when not *everyone* is connected, which can happen). And they make the best soy latte, to go or to sit down, your choice. My two favourite EH cafes are the big one at Vasagatan - sit in the armchairs in the window and enjoy people watching galore. Be very aware of pickpockets though, it was here my iPhone got stolen a few years back. - and the little one situated a little walk down the street at Sheraton hotel. It's small, kind of intimate and cosy. And the toilets are the ones in the hotel lobby so they're very fresh (and have Molton Brown toiletries).

Sturekatten - (Östermalm) Classic Stockholm cafe (used to hang here often when I was in high-school) with a very cosy granny flat-interior in different little rooms on two stories (thus the infamous pram mob shy away from this place). Tea and apple pie with custard is my favourite here.

Johan & Nyström - (Söder, Mariatorget) Very popular hipster cafe - the staff can be either very friendly or ignoring you because you're not hip enough, beware. Since Johan & Nyström started out as a coffee- and tea-merchant (excellent quality) you can also buy their coffee and teas here. Great oat latte or a fruit rooibos tea are my usual choices here. Enjoy their vegetarian sandwiches a lot too.

Kafé Himlavalvet - (Norrmalm/Vasastan, near Stadsbiblioteket). Situated on top of the Observatorielunden and its observatory, this cafe is rather a little secret in the middle of the city. Lovely summer cafe with both lunches, food, sandwiches, fika and not least waffles. Plus homemade elderflower cordial not to be missed.

Vete-Katten - (Norrmalm) Not far from the central station you'll find another classic cat-related cafe (katten = the cat). Award-winning pastry bakery with lots of nice things to chose from and light lunches. The old parts of the cafe and the inner couryard is much much nicer than the rebuilt part which you step into from the street, so venture further back please. Also remember that a lot of those delicous looking pastries does contain animal gelatine, but they have other vegan options too if you ask. They serve a great, affordable afternoon tea (August - mid June) and their vanilla buns are de-lovely.

18 smaker - (Söder, Mariatorget) Stockholm's best icecream? Lots of vegan options, 18 Swedish flavours every day so you're never really sure what's on offer except that it's delicious. My favourites are usually the vegan liquorice, dark chocolate and raspberry sorbet. And saffron. Free wi-fi.

Fru Marias Bak - (Älvsjö) Very cosy and cute cafe/bakery situated in the suburb Älvsjö. Lighter dishes, vegetarian options and lots of tasty buns and fika. The proprietor Maria is very friendly and so is her young staff. My favourites are the baguettes and vanilla buns. Free wi-fi.

Konditori Lyran - (Bredäng/Mälarhöjden) This cafe is situated in my second childhood-home hoods. A beautiful turn of the century villa overlooking lake Mälaren (you simply must sit on the outdoor veranda with a view!). Classic fika, sandwiches and lighter dishes.

Ulriksdals Slottsträdgårdscafé - (Solna) In the suburb of Solna, near Ulriksdal castle, you'll find this lovely, dog-friendly nursery and garden cafe with lots of vegetarian options. They have a vegetarian lunch buffet on weekdays and they've written a few vegetarian cookbooks (of which one is my favourite). A little lush, friendly oasis with its own garden-cat.


Free entrance to public owned museums now, but not to these which are privately owned.

Thielska galleriet - (Djurgården) My favourite museum, still I don't visit it all that often since it's tucked away a fair distance out on Djurgården. Beautiful building which hosts different art exhibitions and also has its own permanent exhibitions. As well as a beautiful tower room with a mural. The cafe in a bathroom is very cute too.

Fotografiska - (Söder) Fantastic photo museum with a great, award-winning restaurant with a view. It's a rather unpleasant walk to and from the nearest subway/bus station and it's still a mystery why they haven't their own bus station, since it's a popular destination. That said, well worth a visit with lots of interesting exhibitions (my favourite still being Nick Brandt's).

Carl Eldhs ateljémuseum + Cafe Bellevue - (Vasastan) Tucked away in the park Bellevueparken in the northern outskirts of the city, this little beautiful sculpture museum/home/garden of artist Carl Eldh is a well kept secret. Guided tours only. Nearby you'll find the Cafe Bellevue which is a little gem for fika and lunch.

Millesgården - (Lidingö, suburb) Beautiful sculpture garden and the former home of Carl Milles built on the cliffs overlooking one of the inlets of Stockholm. The modern building hosts different art exhibitions and the museum shop is really nice. Unfortunately the adjacent cafe that used to be lovely changed owners some years ago and is now a very animal flesh oriented cafe/meat shop.

Hallwylska Muséet - (Norrmalm/Östermalm) Lovely inner city museum/palace which is the former home of countess Hallwyl and family. Over the years it has hosted interesting and unusual exhibitions like the story of perfume, House of Elliott costumes, Downton Abbey costumes and flower artist Tage Andersen's camelia show. Recently they opened up an evening bar in the inner courtyard.


For hipster overload I recommend the shopping around Hornstull and Nytorget/SoFo with lots of independent stores in all price ranges. Slightly less pretentious it is around Mariatorget/Hornsgatan (my favourite part of Södermalm), where you'll find one of my fav shops

and many more.

Charlotte Nicolin - (Gamla stan) Fantastic animal art, both original paintings, prints, postcards and souvenirs. Don't miss!

Goodstore - (Söder) vegan, organic food store (one at Nytorget, one at Hornstull where they also recently opened a vegan cafe, Delivore).

House of Rym - (Söder) A lovely little shop with adorable pottery, home fabrics, prints and selected things like tea and chocolate.

Iris Hantverk - (Norrmalm) Great Scandinavian craft and home shop, with both own design and other selected designers.

Kaolin - (Söder/Mariatorget) Cute coop pottery shop with Stockholm designers only.

Krabat - (Norrmalm, Kungsgatan 53) Quirky, colourful interior and gift shop for all playful ages. It has a special Moomin selection corner too.

NK - (Norrmalm/Östermalm) One of Stockholm's two department stores. This one is the posh one, but I usually prefer the other one.

ReMake - Stadsmissionen's (City Mission) upcycling projects shop where they sell remade clothes, toys and clever gifts. The shop can be found in different places but the original one is situated inside Kulturhuset at Sergels torg.

Åhléns City - (Norrmalm) The largest one of the two department stores and my favourite. Great beauty department with Dermalogica, Bare Minerals, Kiehl's and alike.

For tea (and coffee) -

Johan & Nyström - (Söder/Mariatorget) The above mentioned cafe.

Stockholm Tea Centre - (Söder/Mariatorget) The first specialist shop dedicated to tea. They have their own blend, Söderblandning. Nice, but I prefer their cherry tea.

Thehuset Danielsson - (Norrmalm) Really nice tea shop in the inner city with a selection of teas and coffees, sweets, pottery, tins and gifts.

Chaikhana Teahouse - (Gamla Stan) This is also a posh tearoom, but to be honest the quality of that (if you're vegetarian) has declined over the years so I only buy tea here. Quite expensive tea, so it's not a regular thing.

For books -

Akademibokhandeln - Bookstore chain that can be found all over Sweden and Stockholm. My favourite is the large one at Mäster Samuelsgatan/Regeringsgatan, great selection of Swedish and English books. The store has a cafe too.

Bok & Bild (Norrmalm) Friendly family-owned bookstore at Drottninggatan with really great prices.

Bokslukaren - (Söder/Mariatorget) Sweet children's bookstore with a little cafe that serves miniature pastries.

Bysis Bok- & Pappershandel - (Söder)  cute bookshop with cafe and an unusual selection of books.

S:t Pauls Bokhandel - (Söder/Mariatorget) Small, friendly bookshop with an unusual selection of books, postcards and stationary. 

Well worth a visit outside Stockholm:

Drömkåken cafe - (Norrtälje) Lovely garden cafe and shop situated in an old countryside missionary house with a vast gardebPainted and decorated as if Barbie and Pippi Longstocking met and bought a house together. Lovely fika and light dishes like pies and sandwiches. My favourite is the vegetarian foccacia, but it's very filling so you might want to share if you want a dessert to (and you do).

Sigtuna - Sweden's oldest town, adorable and picturesque town which is actually more a suburb to Stockholm within reasonably easy access by public transport.

Skokloster castle - Beautiful 17th century castle well worth a visit and guided tour.

Vaxholm - beautiful little archipelago town, perfect little day trip within reach by car, bus and boat. Independent craft shops, picturesque architecture and lots of restaurants and cafes. Near the harbour you find the excellent organic restaurant Sva Marga that has a wonderful vegan Hälsotallrik (Health plate) with tofu on the menu. For fika I suggest the adorable Vaxholms hembygdsgård by the water with a mouthwatering pastry table. It's very popular and the queues are often long. The garden seating is lovely and the best seats are on the deck with sunchairs.

Växplats Nybyn - (Norrtälje) My favourite garden cafe. Organic nursery and pick your own flowers field. The fika is only vegan and vegetarian, fairtrade and organic. So are the nice things in the gift shop. A haven of kindness.

Wenngarn castle + Dammstugan Vedugn - (Sigtuna) Recently renovated castle, hotel and park with conference facilities, restaurant, cafe etc. But my favourite thing is the adorable pizzeria in the pond cottage - supertasty gourmet pizzas made from organic, locally produced ingredients. You will love it. And the interior.

Äppelfabriken & Wiksunds trädgård - (Ekerö) Supersweet organic summer garden cafe with an apple factory situated far out on the island of Ekerö. The fika is great, the ambiance too but it does take a long time to get here by bus from the city and there's a long walk to and from the bus stop.

PS Apart from my When in Stockholm-list on Yelp I have several others for different cities like Berlin, Copenhagen, Gdansk, Krakow and Helsinki and more. You'll find them here DS.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

what to see, do and vegetarian eat in stockholm

Was kindly asked to give my recommendations on what to see, do and eat in Stockholm. And since I love sharing the things not to be missed in this beautiful city, mainly off the boring tourist tracks, I happily said yes. I've been meaning to do one for years now, but never gotten around to it.

I already have several lists on Yelp on the subject but they are in Swedish and if you are like me, not a fan of Google translate, the only indications are my ratings, so I'll give you a few highlights here in blog. Some of my favourite places are a fair distance from Stockholm by car or bus, but the tips in the post to come will mainly be for inner city Stockholm and its nearby suburbs.

As I'll only chose a few to highlight in my next post - since I could go on and on forever... - you'll find the rest on the aforementioned Yelp-list in Swedish (there is one major one for "don't miss in Stockholm" but there are several others focusing on vegan/vegetarian restaurants and food-places, cosy cafes, thoughtful shopping, day trips etc).

When I began to compile the list I realised it will take quite some time to do so, thus I thought it would be nice to let you know it is at least coming along and will hopefully be finished this weekend.

Once upon a time I did a couple of Sweden Q&A, perhaps those can be of some use if you're planning a trip to Stockholm/Sweden to. Part one and part two.

And by all means, feel free to ask if you have any specific questions!

EDIT: My guide to Stockholm can now be found in this post.

Monday, June 13, 2016

redefining myself

The one thing with too much free time is that it is also too much time to think. Thinking can obviously be a good thing. But too much brooding over things you can never ever change is not. Yet you do it.

So after that first lovely June week when I had some meetings, odd assignments and overall just relished not having to do the 9-5 thing again in an foreseeable future I have been doing a lot of thinking. I guess it hasn't been all brooding, there have been good thoughts and insights too, but still. Striped.

I've also realised that what I'm doing and have to do right now is redefine myself as a solo-traveler in life. 

Because, those almost 27 years as a part of a duo in so many aspects of life are basically all my years as a grown up. And even if I have always been an independent thinker and doer, I think I would have been a very different person had I not grown up in this relationship. Perhaps better, perhaps not. But different, yes.

It's so easy to simply glide along in life, on the path of least resistance, play your convenient part in a relationship, rely on and take things for granted (noted, in both good and bad ways) without really talking about it. And with that sometimes being spoilt and petulant, annoyed and disappointed. Instead of talking things through, expectations, needs, plans, goals, highs and lows.

I'm not saying you should be completely self-sufficient in every little part of your life, there are things I would never be neither interested, comfortable nor able to do and there isn't anything wrong with asking for help or rely on your partner. Because there are always other things I'm good at instead, things I bring into the equation that the other one can rely on me doing. Life without ever relying on others would be a very unfullfilling one.

But you should always always talk about it, the whys and the hows. Communicate your inner feelings, dreams, worries, regrets and hopes. We weren't good at that, at least not these last few years. 

Or rather, I wanted and I asked, many times, because that is who I am, but M was a very untalkative person, kept things inside, when it came to deep, emotional matters. A shudder and 'It is what it is. Things could be worse.' And even more so as time went by. Is it a guy thing? I hope not. 

Grow together, not apart, share, care, discuss, figure out, plan, dream, don't just glide along since it's an easy, seemingly uncomplicated way forward. Because, trust me, that will turn complicated further down the path of life.

Yes, I'm thinking a lot about this. That I should have insisted. Talk. But in the end you are always responsible for your own life and choices, the only person you can change is yourself. You can help others grow, change, but to really actually do it they have to be open, interested and willing. If not, your willingness to help, to listen, doesn't mean a thing.

That said, I'm really grateful for our years together, of course I am. I've experienced so much, together and on my own, learnt, grown, loved. In so many ways it has turned me into the person I am today. I'm heartbroken it ended this way, it shouldn't have but it did. Sadness, anger, gratitude.

Certain days are still worse than others. There are some really good days in a row, a week even and then suddenly *bam*, here comes the sorrow. The thoughts overload sneaking up. And there's nothing you can do really but accepting, be in it but not letting it swallow you, then slowly, actively moving the thought process elsewhere. 

And there is absolutely no meaning with brooding over regrets and should haves (yet you do it if it's one of those days...), but a difficult, obvious lesson learnt through all this is that I must not let myself glide along anymore, I must insist on talking, sharing, growing.

Now is the time to redefine the person that is I, as a singular, independent human only. And define what the grown-up I need and want for a fulfilling, meaningful, loving, happy life. 

It will be a summer of many thoughts, of many lists. A summer of redefining myself. The me, myself and the new I.

Saturday, June 04, 2016

flowery solar lights

So. I ventured out to IKEA - not my favourite place, with few exceptions - yesterday to get some solar lights for a particular dark corner of the garden. Unfortunately the model I wanted is completely sold out, so I decided to get the flowers instead. Cheap looking, but better than darkness. 

I'm happy to report than after only a few hours of sunlight - as opposed to the 12 hours stated on the instruction sheet - the lights lit up at night. All prettiness, all good. 

However I decided to get only 12 flowers instead of 24 for the lights, looks alright in the dark but silly in daylight. So I have to venture back to IKEA soon again. Not a happy bunny, it was absolutely exhausting, people, mass-production, cheap stuff, I spent a good portion of today sleeping. 

Still, very pleased about my new solar garden lights that light up dark corners so nicely. A little bit of magic. Friends of the birds, the sun and the apple.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

thank you, may

Thank you, May, I do believe you've been a kind and useful month. 

Full-time work for pretty much the whole month has been quite exhausting, mainly due to the rush hour commuting. But it has also been really good for the brain having been forced to concentrate on working and learning. And socialising. 

I may be an extrovert social introvert (or closet extrovert as some might say), but to be honest, having to chat regularly or listen to others chatting every single day 8 to 6 is too much for me. And it doesn't matter if they're nice and friendly, I want more space of my own.

That said it has been a great gig, I've had a room on the opposite side of the office from rest of the communication department and that has suited me perfect (for the above reasons). Yes, the people have been very friendly and uncomplicated - and overwhelmingly grateful for my work it seems (hooray) - I've been left to my own devices in a very liberating way and I've learnt a lot on various levels. The gig is finished now and I've been able to relax a wee bit in the sun the last couple of days of May. Gratitude.

Just what I needed really. I'm ever so grateful for the opportunity and not least the person who tipped me about the project on Facebook - which is a place I rarely visit, it mainly annoys me in all sorts of ways, but see, now it has proven to be very useful too, go figure! - I'm a bit amazed really how well things aligned for me in May.

But the month of May has not been all work and no play. Oh no, the gig also helped me discover some new, great places for lunch and food in that part of town. Which is a part I've mainly seen as a thoroughfare and these days a supersized building site. But now I see it as something much more. Not least a place that helped me forward in a very difficult time in my life.

So I've discovered a fantastic little Indian street food lunch restaurant, foodtruck turned restaurant, which serves both flavourful vegetarian and vegan food too. I've discovered an organic food-shop/lunch restaurant (a part of well-known Swedish foodstore chain) which is pretty brilliant. And gotten tips about other places to explore. Which I may write a bit about later.

I went to a really great Yelp breakfast club-event and discovered a new-ish organic, muesli brand which is right up my alley from brand philosophy, copy, packaging to of course flavour. I've been munching on grand muesli pretty much every morning ever since the event. And if I hadn't worked early mornings already then I would never have decided to go up as early as 5.15 in order to be at an morning event 7.30. But now I did and did and it was such a nice experience.

The weather has been great, from really hot summer days - too hot for comfort, both personally and on an environmental level - to very cold ones - which too is uncomfortable for the same reasons - and some well-needed rain. From always gorgeous cherry blossoms, to apple blossoms to wonderful, generous lilacs, nature has been ever so beautiful.

And the charity shop's pick up of all my bags and boxes of clothes and stuff early in May gave me such a liberating feeling. I'm planning to do it again during the summer. There are lots and lots of stuff out in the garden shed which needs sorting through (many boxes which I haven't opened since I moved here in 2001. Yes, really...) and possibly in the wardrobes too. Even if granted, I've done a lot of much needed, liberating wardrobe cleansing already.

But of course I haven't been all practical and busy, I've had days off on my own with my thoughts. And the sorrow continues to be striped, a couple of months after the passing, but it also makes more and more room for self-reflection. What could have, should I have done differently and most of all of course, what can I, must I do differently from now on. To create the life I want and need.

As devastatingly sad and unexpected as the reason for all this is I can safely say that it has forced me to grow a lot in a very short time. Some days the problems and issues that need sorting seem overwhelming, others I'm just doing them. But no matter the daily mood shape I'm always aware that sorting has to be done and I'm the one that has to do it. Though perhaps I can be kind to myself today and leave it until tomorrow.

In general I'm not really good at asking for help, when it comes to everyday practical stuff, but I'm ever so grateful for the best mum in the world and her nearby friend with car who kindly help no-car-me getting the cat litter and food home. 

My next thing is to get help with transporting many big bags of garden waste, the old kitchen sofa and old bathtub to the nearby waste site. Which currently seems like one of those huge, overwhelming deals when you don't have a car or a trailer or know someone obvious who has or can. But as problem-sorting alongside 'everything will be alright because it has to' are my new mantras that will be done one way or the other.

It's interesting how the really mundane things suddenly become so complicated when you can't lean on someone else but yourself. 

Obviously I have no travel plans for the summer this year. It would certainly be good for the soul to get away for a while, just be in a new environment but any such ideas are simply not viable financially. But as the Swedish summer is a thing of wonder and I have lots of things to potter with at home I'm alright with that. Circumstances are so very different now from a year ago when we planned for Berlin in a few weeks... Instead I'm looking forward to my Schwarzwald-trip I've decided to take in September.

I have a great joint work project I hope will kick off soon, but I would also love to get new gigs during the summer. Sweden is notorious for closing down during June-August for holidays (yes, I know, crazy) but really there are always need for telecommuting freelancers and temps during the summer months so hey, Universe, please get in touch on that subject. Keep them gigs rolling in, thank you kindly in advance.

Goodbye, May, and thank you ever so much again. 
Hello, June, please be helpful, kind and soul-soothing - and full of hedgehogs.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

a pug in a mug

This teastrainer certainly falls into the category of most awesome and delightful, wouldn't you agree?

Pug in a mug. And littlest Ågot.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

to cultivate resilience

Little over a year ago I wrote a post about cultivating resilience - little did I know then that that in a not too far future I would have to use that cultivated capacity to "to greet change and difficulty as an opportunity for self-reflection, learning and growing". Because believe you me, these almost two months now, have been spent doing that a lot. In both practical and emotional ways. 

This is a really good article on the subject and how you can work on increasing your resiliance. Which is essential for your well-being.

Death appears sooner or later in everyone's life, that is perhaps the one undisputable truth in this world. There is absolutely no way to turn back the clock, act and say things differently, get answers, explanations. And letting oneself being engulfed in sorrow and the what ifs over and over and over again isn't meaningful for anyone. So despite the fact that the sorrow is still striped, but in another striped way than in the beginning, and melancholy is a constant companion, some days more than others, I also chose happiness. Because there is no way but forward and making a productive and active choice is to take control. As much as anyone of us can take control, who knows what will happen tomorrow?

And the financial worries I had in the beginning - still do, but I also choose to not let them overwhelm me, because it will be alright - perhaps they were a blessing in disguise. They have forced me to be active, to take control, find solutions, a week at a time. Instead of perhaps wallowing in sadness every day, all the time had the financial issues not been a fact. I already feel I have grown quite a bit by necessities. 

So how has the second week of May been? Grateful to say also a good one. The weather continued to be glorious. I enjoyed discovering new, fine places for lunch in the work neighbourhood. Met friends after work for long chats. Went to an informal interview. Which happened to be above the cafe were we used to have the perfect Saturday breakfast - also a place where I've had so many productive meetings both social and work related - so I had lunch there by myself, it was both wistful and lovely.

My short gig has been prolonged for two more weeks, I must be doing something right, so I'm grateful for that. Still loath the rush hours commuting, but at least my tasks allow me to work from home a couple of days. Hopefully I will be able to do that some more days the following weeks. I also find I'm even more productive at home, so it's a win-win for everyone.

May May continue to show kindness. And I resilience. Everything will be alright. Better than alright, much better.
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