Monday, April 30, 2007

Our man in Rome

As I briefly mention earlier M had a bit of a holiday in Rome, playing golf last week - the golf part I'm not the least bit green about *no pun intended* but the Rome part I was sort of greenish over.

But as we all know, when someone near and dear is on holiday or away on longer business trips that someone always comes home bearing gifts - even though the gifts vary from excellent to what the f**k, it's the thought that counts. Mostly.
So you can imagine my sheer horror - as opposed to Sheer Stella, which I had asked the man in Rome to bring home a new bottle of. Well, apparently its not the same fragrance as the last Sheer Stella from 2005, but a new limited edition. The bottle looks rather alike the other one though and the scent seems wonderful... -
when I learnt that he actually had bought me nothing!! Not the tiniest little pearl, no scarf, not a magazine, no tea, no chocolate, not even a gift on the f**k-end of the gift-scale...
Still, sin carries its own punishment to nitwits... And guess who has been in bed all day complaining about stomach ache...? Can't say I'm surprised. I think that should be a lesson learnt, don't come home without gifts for yours truly.
Myself, well I've enjoyed a day more or less by myself, watching the newly planted pansies in my flower pots grow (see pic above).
Cleaning the house - partly, you don't want to overdo that. And well, a completely clean house is a sign of a life wasted - don't want to go there, do we?
Tried out some new style of muffins - apart from the cardamom/mixed berries & creamcheese ones, also some extra chocolate ones. With some Polish chocolates (yes a gift from business-tripper M!) that really wasn't very good to just eat. But turned out rather delicious when embedded in muffins!
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I still ponder whether to be magnanimously forgiving and save some for that non-gift-buying nitwit as mention above or not...
I've also made some kitty butts more than happy today - and myself, since I just love the colours and shape of the fab three new style of litter-boxes I invested in last weekend at the cat-show - by doing a real spring-cleaning in the cat-toilet.
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I wasn't sure if I should get two pink and one green, or two green and one pink, or one of each colour. But my distinguished fellow showgoers said a fab tricolour was the thing to get. And I must say I think they were absolutely right! Even if the pink-green combination is so Pia, I do believe the blue one matches just right.
And isn't it just fantastic that you can even get your favourite colours and funky design all the way into the kitty toilets?! And well, a good woman gets her own gifts I suppose. And eats her own muffins. And have a generously forgiving and sharing nature - sometimes.

Walpurgis night

Today is the day/night when Sweden traditionally celebrates that Spring is officially here - though it really has been for quite some time, even if the weather doesn't always agree - Walpurgis night = Valborgsmässoafton.

St Walburga was a nun who lived in Germany in the 8th century, and it is from her the name Valborg derives. The ancient custom of lighting bonfires at Walpurgis night was originally done to scare off evil beings that was said to worship the devil on this very night.

Now it's more a fun way to meet and celebrate the coming of Spring, and most of all I should way, a way to get rid of winter debris. In university towns like Uppsala and Lund, the way of celebrating Walpurgis night are pretty traditional and includes choral singing, speeches and wearing those typical Swedish white-topped high school-graduation caps.

There's also one really sad "tradition" surrounding Walpurgis in Sweden. And that's the fact that so many, far too many teenagers has quite a misguided way of celebrating Walpurgis. With an excess of alcohol. Apparently this night is by far the worst night in Sweden when it comes to alcohol poisioning and drunk and disorder incidents. So completely unnecessary. And the obvious question is of course, where are their parents?? Where are the grown ups who can set an example??

Unfortunately it seems to be too easy to have a child - and then what, whose responsability is it to bring that child up with good values, empathy and a sense of self-respect and respect for others? Me, the parent, why so?

Sunday, April 29, 2007

What to write

Sometimes when I'm lying in bed, sitting on the bus or train or in the car I come up with the most wonderful ideas and wording of a new entry. I know, I know, one really should write that down, or record it or have a personal assistant to take notes...

- If I could chose whomever I want in the whole wide world to be that assistant, always a timeserver, who would that be...? -

But since I suffer from a phenomenal memory I tend to think I will remember that certain way of words, that certain fascinating idea - when I wake up I realise that even phenomenal memories have their phenomenally bad days...

So, the entry of today won't be as sensationally fascinating as I would have wanted it to be - but since I'm a great believer in the theory of relativy I suppose this too can be a mindblowing thing for someone with a whole other way of life. Perhaps. With a bit of imagination. And a flair for the smaller pink things in life.

Just the other week I discovered that we actually have pink cherry blossoms much closer than Kungsträdgården. On my way to the bus-stop I saw the loveliest little tree just beside the parking-lot in all its tiny pink glory.
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It's these smaller things in everyday life one just has to appreciate! These things very often being those, sometimes, tinier than tiny things nature has in store. Most of the times they appear when the seasons change. Almost all the times you notice them they lift a mood that badly need to be lifted. And when you don't notice them and appreciate them - that's when you're REALLY in trouble...

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But you don't want to be mossy and tired of life and all its wonders, do you? A mossy personality isn't as appealing in a human as in nature...

If you take a deep breath, open your eyes, really open, and look around you there are so many things to be grateful for in life. And to enjoy.

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If you lift your eyes there's amazing arcitecture to be seen.

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If you lower your eyes there are tender flowers to be enjoyed.

There are small, innocent beings that need to be swept up and cuddled.

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There are sweets that makes your tummy sing a dittle of joy.

My dream of tweed with a Skye-button
There are delicate, handmade details in a handbag to be proud of.

All these things that are so easy, too easy, to see past. But when you learn to notice them, to apppreciate them, it's those small things that makes it pretty difficult to wipe that silly smile of your face.
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Saturday, April 28, 2007

WCB - Suncats

Not a weekend without WCB, so here comes my contribution this time around. Three kitties enjoying the sun in the living room - one on that another type of household pet was really ungrateful for , the Fat Boy cushion. Qlara seems to be enjoying it quite a bit, she's even made herself a corner on the cushion that fit herself just right.

The other two - Prunella, cousin of Qlara, and her mother Sigrid - have occupied one old, hairy, ugly sofacushion each. When we threw out the two old sofas last year I thought it would be a good idea to keep a cushion or two for the fourlegged.

And as it turned out it was an AMAZING idea - everyday a "new" cat and Malte, enjoys a nap or a bit of sun through the windows on one of the cushions. They also carry and push these anything but nice looking items around the living room, just so it lies in the exact right place for the exact right nap. For the exact right cat. Or Malte.

So the last thing that I see before I go to sleep, and the first thing that catch my eyes in the morning, are these cushions with cats on top. All in the life of one woman with cats - catwoman indeed!

Bye, bye Tracy, Stephen & Val

I'm sure - I think, I hope? - that I'm not the only one who perhaps read one book by an author, maybe the first one they've written. I find it rather appealing, I then buy the next one, it's sort of ok, the third one might be a bit better than the second one, but the fourth one basically sucks...

I've actually no idea why I bought and read that third one since the second one wasn't particularly good, and to buy a fourth or perhaps up to five books of the same author that I'm not very impressed - to say the least - by is a total mystery!

Perhaps I live in hope, the hope that they might pick up and return to what made the first book quite a good bedcompanion? Or is it just routine, I know what I get even if it isn't very good reading, at least I can just relax, read and don't have to bother with thinking?

But the thinking I of course do, I'm constantly thinking about what a lousy read it is, badly written, a more than strained plot, why do I value my time and money as low as to buy and read that less than worthy to read literature?

So I now make my official goodbye to three writers that I've bought too many books of, spent too many hours reading. Here comes the threesome, the books I have, the books I've read and my witty (weeell...) comments last.

  • Tracy Chevalier: Girl with a pearl earring since the book was so, so, by all means go see the movie instead. Time spent with Colin Firth on the screen is never a waste of time in my world. Or perhaps, if we're not talking about horrific exceptions like "Hope springs" and the low-water mark "Trauma". Falling angels, equally so-so. The lady and the unicorn, the best in the bunch, but since the rest isn't much to say hooray about... And then we've reached the worse of the bad, The Virgin blue... Think a not very talented high school essay with a historical twist and a stupid lovestory. It actually took be over two years to get through it - and since I'm sometimes too stubborn for my own peace of mind I just had to get through it. I actually think I deserve a prize for that!
  • Val McDermid: The Mermaids singing this book was quite chilling reading and the plot was a pretty unique and good one. I thought. At first. Having read some of McDermid's other crime novels in the series of Jordan-Hill after that - The wire in the blood, The last temptation - I've come to re-evaluate it. Not very well written, the relationship between the two main characters are completely frustrating and the author's fascination for really over-the-top-horrific-ways to kill and mutilate just gets... too much. Same goes for Killing the shadows. Sometimes there's an exception to the rule and, even if it's some time now since I read "A place of execution" I think it was a rather good suspense novel and not as "gooey" as the others.
  • Stephen Booth: now we've reach an author whose kind of crime novels should appeal to me (the publishing company is Minotaur, fantastic covers and, above all, they take place in the English countryside) and apparently I've convinced myself they have. For about five books. The Black dog, Dancing with the virgins, Blood on the tongue, Blind to the bone and One last breath. But enough is enough. I'm just more than annoyed about the relationship between the two main characters (have you heard that before?), it's not the least bit charming, intellectual and witty like Reginald Hill's pair-horses Dalziel and Pascoe. Just tiresome, immature and incomprehensible. And the unravelling of the plot mostly leaves me with an "so? Was that all there was?". So, bye bye Stephen!

That's it. I've wiped my book-plate clean of those three. This evening I'll hopefully discover a, for me, completely new favourite-to-be writer instead of ravel in the past. One that's more than well-worth her pocket-book-price. Review will come later.

Today's picture shows some of the tulips with friends in my garden. I've inherited most of them from the previous owner, yellow really isn't my colour. Not to sound ungrateful, and of course I'm happy I have flowers that seem to take pleasure in sticking their tender noses up in my garden every, but I really must get down to planting some new bulbs this Autumn. That'll grow up to be beautiful pink, pink and more pink tulips next Spring...

Friday, April 27, 2007


I had every intention to write an insightful and witty (all things are relative) bookwormy review-blogentry today. But after a simply glorious day here in Stockholm - how about those daffodils to the right! - with too much sun, too much fresh air, too much walking I feel I've just been springcleaned out of all my wit and will enjoy an early night instead.

But before that I'll probably enjoy some raspberries along with Häagendasz raspberry-cream icecream (never is there such a thing as too much rasberries!) and the movie "Wimbledon" on DVD. Not really sure why I chose that movie, I'm as far from a sporty animal as one can be - praise the forces of nature for that - but it has some good actors too it and I'm sure it's just as easy-watching as my newly springcleaned mind can take right now.

By the way, I'm a bit excited about the fact that that fun little Cluster-gadget seems to be working now, the wonders of the computerworld never seize to amaze me...

Thursday, April 26, 2007

A Coffeebreak Named Fika

It is said that Swedes are particularly fond of their "fika-stunder" - which means coffee-breaks, fika being an old slang-word for coffee. But the coffee in case of this coffee-break can be any kind of beverage. So popular that many work-places have even institutionalized these coffee-breaks, one in the morning and one in the afternoon...

Oh yes, it is just as stupid as it sounds, you actually get paid for just drinking coffee and beware if you're an employee who actually want to WORK at work and prefer other ways of socializing with colleagues than in the fika-room...

But except for those kind of institutionalized events for the simple minded, it is rather a nice cultural (?) thing in Sweden, to have a pleasant chat and a "fika" ever so often.

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This caffe latte is served at Wayne's coffee, Barkarby outlet. Apart from having a heart to it it's made by one of the semi-finalists of the Swedish 2007 Barista cup. My opinion of it was that I've had far better lattes as well as far worse - I wouldn't go out of my way to have it, semi-finalistic or not.

Now over to a couple of other encounters of the coffee kind I've had as lately - some time ago some very fika-hungry Stockholmians more or less stumbled over a little café in the southern parts of town. My first impression was that its interior was very clinically "decorated" - or rather without decorations or any kind of welcoming feeling to it. But one doesn't want to be too prejudiced, especially not when hungry like a wolf, the food and drink might be the best ever...

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The simple bagel was quite tasty, so was the tramezzini with tuna - but hey even the way the food is served is clinical, and on paper-plates... And then we have the coffee, the latte, and it was just awful! I've no idea how long ago it was since they cleaned the coffee-machine or what kind of horrible brand they used for coffee, it tasted like industrial window-cleanser (not that I've tasted that *promise* but I know the smell...).

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And the name of the place where you shouldn't have your coffee, or expect a cosy environment for fika, well it's Café Neo...

Today we enjoyed a fantastic pre-Summer day in Stockholm, blue skies, sun shining and mild breezes. Of course it was an absolute must to have a fika outdoors! Since we'd never actually sat down for a fika at the Muffin bakery (in a part of town that's called Kungsholmen/King's islet) we thought that was a good idea. And since their muffins are suppose to be of the functional-food kind one might perhaps be eating them with a good conscience...?

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Albeit the latte was of a very nice kind, the muffins we choose promised far more than they could deliver. A muffin with the popular - and yummy - Swedish milk chocolate Marabou usually never fails as far as tastiness go. This one did. Just dry and boring. The one with blueberries and cheesecake I opted for was just too sweet and equally dry.

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Since both the company and the weather was outstanding I didn't much care for the fika itself being such an unsavoury experience - but I sure won't visit again.

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And there are so many places all over town, all over Sweden that serve far better fika. And fika with muffins. Like Chez Pia to mention but one. A place that also promise a secluded garden, a cosy homely environment and ample opportunity for cuddles with the four legged staff.

Shampoo & conditioner, please

You know your bathroom drain needs cleaning when the thing hiding there starts to demand its own shampoo and conditioner.

That dirty deed was done this morning. I swear I heard a little voice saying I was overreacting when I flushed the thing found down the toilet.

And just so you know, that thing didn't look anything remotely similar to the little one on the right, who once upon a time also was in need of schampoo and conditioner.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Happy feet and a bit more

Good customers relations are the keyword for good sale-figures.

And I'm one of the ones who keep returning for more at Kiehl's due to that (and of course their many good products) -

last week it was birthday boy M's time to experience the Kiehl's-feeling.

And this is what I gave him (apart from a pair of really snazzy shorts with bright green flowers):

* A bottle of alpine herbs shower gel - smells divine and rather unusual.
* A bottle of all sports footcream. For those those oh so neglected feet. What is it with men and their in general quite... in lack for better words, disgusting and non-pampered elephant-feet?? And I simply insist - since the footpolisher seems to have a repellent effect - on a pedicure before summer...
* Shaving cream
* A sample of musk edt
* A sample of face cream for men - ha, ha, good luck in getting M to hop on that train of men with beauty regimes!
* And - since he's actually on a trip to Rome for playing golf right now - some samples of sun blocker (hm, I wonder if that made its way down in the suitcase or not...)

Can't leave Kiehl's without anything for myself of course - so I got some samples of
* grapefruit hand & body lotion - haven't tried it yet, but the shower gel I've used and it smells divine,
* shaving cream - for when it's time to do the Spring felling and plugg the pipes in my neighbourhood... - and the
* facial scrub with pineapple praised by my friend A. And after using it only once, I can't but agree - it was just super! Of course its on my shopping-list for next time!

And even if most things I've tried from Kiehl's have been good or even great I've also tried some far less than impressive products. I rave about the creme de corps - the best bodycream I've tried for my dryer than dry winter skin - but I'm not impressed by the creme de corps washing cream. Non lather, very un-lasting and non-moisturizing like any old shower gel. It's definately a no-buy! Perhaps the creme de corps light weight body-lotion works well on a non-dry skin type. But for me it wasn't enough to keep my skin happy. I also felt it was quite non-lasting. Another no-buy.

Strike the pose

I thoroughly enjoyed the newly retired show cat 's- also known as Eulalia or Eu (at least something positive has come with those two letter woven together...) to her close friends - pose today.
Such a striking pose and that look on her face! I've seen other kitties philosophizing over life like this before, but never her, until now. She's always been more of a flying squirrel kind of girl.
Ran for the camera, the batteries were out, the lighting was poor, that part of the sofa a bit full of cat hair (reason for my artistic talent with the paintbrush...), couldn't get a really good picture in every aspect. But still, it's a pretty fun one and I'm so happy that little creamy, furry, cuddly, philosophizing thing is born, raised and living her life with me!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

I want candy

Anyone remember that hit from the 80ies with Bow Wow Wow? When I googled on the song it actually turned out that it has been re-recorded quite recently with a far-from-favourite-artist of mine and that it's also the name of a new British comedy. I had no idea... Perhaps that lack of idea derives from the fact that I sometimes tend to live in the past when it comes to candy?
And that past, or I prefer to call it a classic in the candy-department, was what I set out to write about today. The classic in this case being a toffee (kola in Swedish) that has roots from the 1950ies and is one of the products from the equally classic brand of Karamellpojkarna (translates The Caramell boys - that sounds like a hit, don't you think?
I also like their undertitle, Tre som gör gott/Three that do good. Yes, these toffees sure are soulfood in the very sweet sense of the word. As you can see, even the cats agree!
The classic toffees in question are called Hemkola (Hometoffee) and as far as I know they've been sold in the same package since the 50ies. First they were only two flavours - chocolate and hazelnut. Then came the liquorice one. Some months ago I discovered a new, remarkably tasty flavour of gingerbread (pepparkaka). And just recently the special - which turned out to be mint. In the back of my mind I think I remember a toffeeflavour of raspberry once upon a time, but I'm not completely sure it was of the Hemkola-family...
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I think they're quite the candything if your sweet-tooth like to enjoy something simple, good value for money, without frills.
Although I must admit they turned out to be quite an expensive part of the birthday-parcel I sent overseas today - the weight of those toffees made the postage rise to new, unforeseen heights. So *whoever you are* who'll get them, enjoy them as they cost their weight in gold! Well, almost anyway...

Monday, April 23, 2007

Darling buds of May

Days like these, looking out of the window, it's difficult to believe that it soon will be the month of May. When all things great and small will truly come alive.

This budding magnolia I found the other week, at a churchyard in the middle of Stockholm. Can't help but wonder if it survived all the weatherly hardship during this past week, come rain, come hail, come snow...

The weather also seem to have a negative effect on my inspiration and budding re-born ambitions...

I just get a little done there and a little done here. But even ant-steps are steps in the right direction so I try not to let that bother me too much.

And these wise words are some of the ones I've come to treasure and live (try is all one can do) by:

To worry is like paying interest on a loan that hasn't fallen due to payment

A happy birthday at Måns Ols Utvärdshus

And the "real" entry of today, you'll find here - since the Blogger for some weird reason decided to publish the whole thing under the date of April 18th instead of the 22nd...

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Outfit of April 22nd

It was really a depressingly cold and wet day today, but at least the outfit of the day whispered of Spring.

  • Light beige camisole, Odd Molly
  • Brownish tan knitted cotton cardigan, Odd Molly
  • Yellow/offwhite printed silk scarf, NoaNoa
  • Pale green, crinkled silk skirt, NoaNoa
  • Black brouge MaryJanes, Bronx
  • (Red trenchcoat)
  • (Handbag, Mulberry Rosemary)

A happy birthday at Måns Ols Utvärdshus

The month of April is one of the busiest months when it comes to birthday-celebrations in my vicinity, both the fourlegged kind of parties and the twolegged.
I suppose the two most distinguished celebrations of the month are the birthdays of M and my mother. The later we celebrated a day after the actual B-day with a nice meal out today (and of course a cat-show comes before a celebration of an even numbered birthday...).

The outing took place at Måns Ols Utvärdshus (the name is a bit quirky to translate, Måns Ols is an old fashion name and the name of a dammwatcher in the 1800 century. Utvärdshus means OutInn, since the Inn is mostly situated outdoors) - a restaurant/coffeehouse close to the small town of Sala. (Sala was founded as a town in the 1700 century, most known for its famous silver mine).

A trip to Måns Ols in the summers with the cab is a pleasant way to spend a lazy day. And the food is pretty good, with quite a bit of inventive thinking when it comes to vegetarian alternatives.
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Like this baked paprika filled with chanterelles and sundried tomatoes, served with potatoe wedges and garlic cream cheese. I did miss the minced quorn though...
They also serve some nice fish-dishes. Like the one some had today - salmontrout with lemonsauce and pressed potatoe.
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Måns Ols Utvärdshus is quite scenically situated close to the (actually man-made) lake of Långforsen. And the best way to enjoy a meal is of course outdoors and close to the lake. And why not have a nice walk, before or after the meal, on one of the many promenades close to the different damms in the neighbourhood? Even if there's no road around the whole lake.
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And having had a brisk walk you well deserve one of Måns Ols' often very nice sweets. Like this classical dessert of banana-cream pastry.
Today was far from an outdoorish day though, so we had to sit indoors. Which was pretty enjoyable too. The only real blemish of the whole experience was this lovely looking chocolate/passionfruit pannacotta with strawberrysauce I chose for dessert.
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It was just a horrible lump of tasteless jelly and far from that smooth-melting-on-your-tongue experience a well-made pannacotta is suppose to be.
But I guess even the smallest sun has its faults, and what matters the most is that the birthday-mother enjoyed her celebration with family and friends! So a massive dose of happy birthday to her!!

WCB - At the cat show

I once was a very keen cat-show goer, quite a distinguished one I might add. For a number of reasons that part of my great love for cats and breeding has ebbed away over the last period of years. These days, at a cat show and afterwards I'm just dizzy and worn-out.

And since there are so many more interesting and fullfilling days to spend your weekend - both for the cats and the twolegged ones - we usually opt for those more funfilled and less exhausting things.

But sometimes there's an exception to that rule of cat-show-free weekends and yesterday was such an exception. So the gang of three chirpy chatty twolegged showgoers and their seven cats set of to an adventure (well...) in the icerink of Surahammar (translates Sour Hammer, and if that's not an ominous sign I don't know what is...).

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To cut a muuuuch loooonger story short one of us, my friend U (who attend a catshow about once every fifth year or so) had a less than successful day with her to little furry companions. But somehow she seemed quite eager to try it again within a foreseeable future. Maybe it had something to do with the fantastic gang of three and our excellent food-breaks during the day?

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A very distinguished Dutch treat with A taking care of the breakfast, me of the lunch and U of the coffeebreak-treats (though I must say she was more than a bit of a lazy type just buying the treats in the supermarket rather than baking them herself...).

A was pleased with the result of her cats and I was too. Even though the different judgings were "slightly" disorganised, in the end of the day we ended up with more than we had hoped for. The cat-bathed-in-macademianut-shampoo known as Eulalia got her last certificate for the neuter-title GIP (Grand International Premier), she was nominated to the panel (didn't win there, but I bet she had won the class of the most-from-outer-space-looking-eyes - if there had been such a class).

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She also became Best senior shorthair female. And now she's well and truly retired from the show ring, nearly 9 years old and with a lot of showgoing and winnings over the years - and I bet she herself thinks that was the best prize to win!

Little Siri, the 1 year old, didn't much care for the show. As always a total sweetie, but not very keen to show her star-quality. She did get her first certificate and was the runner up for a nomination to the panels though. But got beaten by A:s classic bluetabby girl - and a spot of good luck that was, since otherwise I might had missed out on getting a ride back home...

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And back home we went after a looong, too looong day in the evening. Can you spot the most happy-with-being-retired-and-getting-back-home-cat in the bunch?

Friday, April 20, 2007

Little Miss Sunshine

In April, in Sweden, you should always be prepared for a quick change in the weather. So after a week or so with amazing weather, sun shining from a bright blue sky, winds as mild as a really good vanilla ice-cream, urging you to take the clothes off - we're now experience that capricious moodswing of April.

The wind is blowing from the north, it's merciless and vicious, the skies are dull and pointless, the only thing shining is the sun with its absence. And yes, if freezing rain pouring down wasn't bad enough, we actually had lots of hail yesterday, followed by a snowy, white lawn in the evening.

April days like this you just want to curl up in bed, under the duvet and go into hibernation a bit longer. But if you can't do that, you might think about starting the day with a nice fruity smoothie with different kind of seeds. And feel the mood- and energylifting little internal fellas get to work.

In the afternoon you might have the opportunity to have a movie-watching, tea-drinking, cake-eating experience in the sofa. And if you want a really uplifting, sweet movie with a darker twist to it I highly recommend Little Miss Sunshine. It teams up well with a matching cake, such as a

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chocolate marzipan covered pearmousse one.

And when it's time for dinner in the evening, you might like to get some more energy-boosting veggies. Why not opt for a really simple, but oh so tasty paprika-sauce and pasta?
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And here's the basic recipe:

3-4 red/orange/yellow paprikas
1 jar of creme fraiche (2,5 dl)
1 of your favourite onion
oil, salt, pepper, spices of your liking

some slices of your favourite soya, quorn product, like veggieballs or sausage

Slice the cleaned paprikas in pieces. Parboil them a couple of minutes. Pour them in a mixer with the creme fraiche until it's a smooth mix. Slice the onion and fry it for a while. Pour the paprikasauce over the onions, spice it up and add the veggieballs. Serve with pasta.

And I wouldn't be surprised if this comibination of moodlifters (all completely legal) will leave you feeling like a little miss Sunshine when you curl up in bed at night.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

A little fruit...

...always works wonder

Med ett schysst (h)järnrör slår man hela världen med häpnad eller Sagan om P

Ett alldeles fantastiskt uttalande av grabben grus, Socker-Conny, fullständigt vidöppet för tolkningar och samtidigt så rakt på sak. Själv är jag stöpt i den mer timida, intellektuella typ-formen och lägger mer än gärna till ett lite h innan järnet slår till. Även om det där järnröret i sin allra mest ursprungliga form inte skulle sitta helt fel just nu...

Anledningen till språkbytet - högst tillfälligt, I assure you - är att det skall handla om somliga svenska myndigheters uppenbart bristfälliga rutiner. Samt den skrattretande - om det inte hade så tragiska konsekvenser på flera olika plan - stelbenta svenska arbetsmarknaden. Vi kan även kalla följande intressanta historia för Sagan om P (som i Personen Ifråga).

Först en kort bakgrund till historien - efter sjukskrivning (även detta beroende på myndighets bristande rutiner och en fullständigt skriande undermålig "företagskultur" - men det är ett helt annat kapitel som nu lämnas därhän) är det så dags för P att ge sig ut på arbetsmarknaden igen.

Personen Ifråga besitter en mängd praktisk och teoretisk kompetens, kunskap, erfarenhet och förmåga. Lägg därtill en högst charmerande personlighet - och därom tvistar inga lärde, däremot möjligen andra... Man skulle tro att det vore en plättlätt sak att fixa nya utmaningar med hyfsad betalning. Observera att nyckelordet i sammanhanget är tro, för tro och verklighet är av någon outgrundlig anledning i sammanhanget vitt skilda ting.

Hur som haver, för att få någon form av intäkt under det fortsatta sökande efter helt rätt, på alla sätt, arbete, är Personen Ifråga (händanefter hela tiden kallad P) så illa tvungen att anmäla sig hos... *fanfar* arbetsförmedlingen. Nåja, nu skall man inte vara fördomsfull och lyssna på elakt förtal och rykten, utan vara öppen till sinnet, ta det som ett nödvändigt måste och en intressant erfarenhet att lägga i livets ryggsäck.

Sagt och gjort, P infinner sig i arla morgonstund på en af nära dig. Blir anvisad en datormodul för att fylla i sina personliga uppgifter "men det har jag redan förberett och gjort hemma" - "nej, af:s CV och denna är INTE samma sak, du måste fylla i uppgifterna på detta vis också"...

Av någon anledning kom tanken på Sisyfos upp... - men P är en duktig liten samhällsmedborgare, gör oftast saker och ting på "rätt" sätt och fyller naturligtvis i de efterfrågade uppgifterna. Igen. Och tilläggas kan, att eftersom P även hyser en - eventuellt udda - förkärlek för att fylla i blanketter, listor och frågeformulär så är det inte en helt obehaglig, om än onödig och tidsödande, procedur...

Så kommer då P fram till momentet, fyll i dina kompetenser, max 18 stycken. Men hur kan det finnas en begränsning av kompetenser? Är inte det något väldigt grundläggande i jobbsökarprocessen - och möjligheten att matchas till jobb där viss kompetens efterfrågas - att alla dessa faktiskt framgår av den personliga profilen och CV:n?

Och om lilla akademiska P faktiskt *hör och häpna* lägger större vikt vid att komma ut på arbetsmarknaden igen, med vilket pappersskyfflarjobb som helst, än den akademiska titeln och utbildningen, så är det väl tämligen lämpligt att även detta framgår bland kompetenserna? Inget jobb är för evigt (utom för Sisyfos) och alla nya utmaningar är utvecklande.

Dessutom anser sig P ha en rik fritid och familje/vänskapskrets som är mer värda sin vikt i guld än vilken tjänstetitel P har. Ingen utbildning är i onödan - förutom möjligen rent ekonomiskt i kungariket Sverige - och med en bred akademisk basutbildning slår man förr eller senare till med ett (h)järnrör var än man befinner sig i näringskedjan. Och ja, återbetalningen av studielånen är det de facto hur man än vänder sig, ändå P som får stå för...

Kompetenserna då, ja dem får man helt enkelt skala ner till max 18, oavsett hur många nyttiga kunskaper man har på vitt skilda områden, för att systemet skall godkänna det hela. Numera består P alltså av endast 18 uppenbara färdigheter - och en mängd dolda.

Så är det då dags för att tala med en livs levande handläggare. Med sig har P alla betyg och intyg - precis som det står på af:s hemsida - men se det går inte. För "nya regler" kräver att man visar upp alla dessa i ORIGINAL. Men det finns det ingen information om på nätet?? Nej men så är det. Kom hit med alla de originalintyg du har imorgon så vi får verifiera att du är den du verkligen säger att du är. Och ingen annan.

Alla originalhandlingar är bosatta i bankfack. Så turen går till banken nästa morgon. P infinner sig därefter hos af för en betygsverifiering. "Jaha, du är jurist - ja då behöver jag bara se intygen som rör juridik. För det är ju det du skall jobba med. Och så får du tänka på att du måste söka dig över hela landet med den examen. Tänk på att arbetsmarknaden är större än den här kommunen."

Men lille handläggaren, tänkte P, här har jag nu varit sjukskriven och därmed haft möjligheten, mitt i allt det eländes eländiga, att återhämta mig och tänka igenom min livs- och arbetssituation. Kommit fram till slutsatser och mål, samt vilka förändringar som behövs för att uppnå dessa.

Att efter många, långa och omständliga interna och externa diskussioner kring detta, vara nödd och tvungen att mötas av en fullständigt oförstående och titelfixerad af-handläggare gör att P antar formen av en stor och häpen suck.

Nota bene, P bor inte ens i kommunen ifråga, och är tämligen van vid att utnyttja de kommunala transportmedlen till och från sina arbetsplatser. Dessutom finns det alldeles utmärkta arbetsverktyg numera, som gör att det går alldeles fantastiskt bra att utöva distansarbete.

Lite senare var P på ett obligatoriskt informationsmöte på af - det inleddes med upprop som i småskolan, vilket härligt sätt att få känna en vuxen gemenskap! Vilket underbart sätt att få alla att känna sig delaktiga och eget ansvarstagande! - där bl a den s k Vikariepoolen nämndes. P tyckte det lät som en intressant del av jobbsökandet och tog raskt tag i saken.

Nåja, viljan att ta tag i saken var det inget fel på, felet låg hos möjligheten. För att aktivera sig som sökande i Vikariepoolen måste intyg och betyg verifieras... Ni minns väl att verifiering av originalbetyg gjordes ovan? Och att alla intyg/betyg som inte hade något uppenbart att göra med P:s akademiska examen ratades?

Arbetssökande P frågar då af varför dessa uppenbart gjorda verifieringar inte framgår av systemet - svaret är följande: Det är två skilda datasystem. De har ingen koppling till varandra. Meriter är verifierade i arbetsförmedlingens system, ej i Vikariepoolen. Därför måste du komma hit och ta med dig intyg och betyg för att bli verifierad i Vikariepoolen igen.

Samtidigt som P:s skepnad av stor suck tar sig alltmer utbredda former, ställer sig P storögt undrande till svaret. Några av frågorna som uppenbarade sig hos den stora sucken var:

A) Varför är det "omöjligt" att låta dessa två datasystem samarbeta?
B) Varför upplyser inte handläggaren om att betygsverifiering måste göras för andra system när arbetssökanden är på plats med alla betyg?
C) Varför är det så viktigt att hålla arbetssökande sysselsatta med dumdristigt och enfaldigt Sisyfos-arbete när de skulle kunna ägna sig åt mer produktiva och samhällsnyttiga ting?
D) Varför är en arbetssökandes tid och energi så litet värd?

En liten parentes i sammanhanget - någon som hört orden att man inte skall vara så kräsen som arbetssökande utan ta det man kan få? Just det. Ett slitet uttryck som inte har så särdeles mycket med verkligheten att göra. Går sällsynt bra att använda sig av, så länge man inte behöver stånga sitt s k överkvalificerade huvud mot väggen av ointresserade arbetsgivare.

En av alla byggstenarna i P:s nya liv är att komma igång med det egna företaget. Det är inget P förväntar sig gå med vinst på från dag ett, utan något som långsamt skall byggas upp vid sidan om ett vanligt inkomtsbringande arbete. Och P inser förstås att det är rätt tillfälle att starta eget nu när man oförskyllt fått beteckningen arbetslös. För nog är det vida bättre att ha viljan, och den spirande förmågan, att försörja sig själv som egen företagare än att leva på bidrag?

Men se, nu visar det sig vara som så, att startar man eget företag försvinner rätten till arbetslöshetsersättning (a-kassa). Oavsett om det lilla egna ger inkomst eller ej. Och utan a-kassa försvinner i sammanhanget helt förmågan att betala räkningar (om man nu inte är villig att söka socialbidrag...). Utan hänsyn till under hur många år man som yrkesarbetande betalat sin a-kasseavgift.

Så av vad som skulle kunna vara en fantastisk nystart - om än med en högst beklaglig och olycklig orsak som grund - både ur en högst kompetent och produktiv Person Ifråga och samhällets synvinkel, bidde det en chimär.

Det känns som om den nya regeringen med alla sina löften och tankar om en ny, modernare arbetsmarknad har en hel del att ta tag i...

Nu är förvisso inte den slutgiltiga punkten för sagan om P på något vis satt. Det finns säkert orsak att återkomma med nya vindvändande avsnitt. Men just detta kapitel i sagan var av så allvarlig art att undertecknad kände sig nödsakad till ett bloggerskt språkbyte. Även kallat ett (h)järnrör.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A bygone era

For as long as I can remember I've been a keen letter-writer. During the summer-holidays to my friends from school, during the whole year to pen-friends, family and relatives.
When I had a letter-writing peak (early to late teens) I always recieved something nice in the letter-box - and in those days the postman also worked during Saturdays...
Back then you almost always wrote your letter by hand, for special occasions with a typing-machine. And since absolutely nothing beats a handwritten, personal letter I do miss those days, much more often than seldom.
For some years now I haven't, for various reasons, been a very faithful and good letter-writing-friend. I do manage to put a few words on a postcard now and then, to send some goodie-bags (to make up for being such a lousy keep-in-touch-letter-writing friend...?), to write a (short) e-mail from time to time.
About once or twice a year I might be able to actually write a proper letter on the computer - so those lovely letter-papers I've been sort of collecting over the years just keep collecting dust in the drawers... And why do I keep them? Is it because I just can't bear to part from them since I know they won't be used the they were born to be used, since "noone" handwrites letter anymore...?
I did get a lovely handwritten letter the other day, from my friend K in Berlin. *Thank you!* It was both so very nice to hear from her again as well as to actually recieve and read a handwritten letter. I realised just how much I do miss that personal way to communicate.
The thought of there actually being someone who cares enough to take the time to sit down, take a pen to the paper, put their personal words on that paper, just for me, is both endearing and comforting, don't you agree?
And that's also why I was more than happy when I did get another handwritten, very short version of a letter, from the Kiehl's shop in Stockholm the other week. Thanking me for being a customer there and welcoming me back - wow, that's really good customer relations!!
Not the average, boring mass-emailing-list, but someone had actually taken their time to take the pen to the paper, handwriting the address on the envelope and stick a stamp on it. What a thoughful way to keep in touch with customers!
And yes, I will be returning soon, not for myself this time but for part of a goody bag for M's birthday. I was suppose to get him something yesterday, but for reasons "unknown" I ended up with mostly things for myself... Like not one, but two pieces of something to wear with a name that begins with O and ends with y. I have absolutely no idea how that happened...
Another really, really good way to treat customers is to give them the chance to return even used products that doesn't work for their skin and change them for another bottle without having to pay for anything more than perhaps the slight difference in product-price. That's also a service you get at Kiehl's.
In the picture you can see the products I got the last time I went to the Kiehl's shop - accompanied by my long-time favourite algae moisture masque - a big jar of that olive hair masque I tried out with good result in the South-African sun; the ultra facial cream which I got instead of the panthenol protein moisturizer (that didn't work well for me); samples of coconut hair masque (great, will invest in a jar!); sample of calendula toner plus creme de corps body wash cream plus close-shaverettes shaving cream (all yet to be evaluated).
So, let's just say, a handwritten and personal letter always gets an A+ in my book!

Proud owner...

...of a cat bathed in Aussie shampoo with macademianut, am I. She didn't protest too much, even if she hates the mess I made of her fur and stylish kitty appearance.

Since she's going to the shows this Saturday I thought I might as well give her a bit of a bath-experience - let's see how well the fur adapts to that... Anyway, she smells divine!

Eulalia is soon to be 9 years old, a quite distinguished showgoer, cream of colour and british shorthair of breed. She still keep up her work as part time flying squirrel, and one of her great interests in life is to keep my hair always in perfect (well...) groom.

Though I suspect the only grooming she'll be doing for a couple of days now is taking care of her poor fur which some evil force messed up badly with water and some smelly stuff. It takes time to be ones normal particular self, looking good and shine like that little star one is!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Spring in pink bloom

You just got to love the season-changes in
Stockholm, Sweden - right now the pink cherry blossoms in Kungsträdgården are in bloom for this spring-season. Extraordinary in many ways!

I just had to share that beauty in pink before I crash in the sofa after a looong day on my feet. But it's said to be the last really warm day before April shows it usual capricious face again - so I'm happy I got the chance to experience the streets of Stockholm, when that face was on its best and sunny behaviour!

Tomorrow there's work to be done from home, and since there are actually rumours of snow I'm glad I don't have to stick my nose outside then...brr...

Sunday, April 15, 2007

To judge a book by the cover

Yes, that's something I often do. Sometimes I'm wrong, sometimes I discover little wordly gems I'd never would have read otherwise. It's at least one way to be a bit adventurous *well* and experience something new and exciting!

The one publishing company I tend to buy most books from, at least the suspense novels, is Minotaur. I've just loved their book-covers from the start (1999) and I've discovered many, for me new, great English suspense writers through Minotaur.

Some books, some writers have been a great disappointment, both language- and storywise. Here are the ones I really don't recommend at all; Eliot Patterson, Louise Anderson, Mark Billingham...

My absolute favorite is Reginald Hill, because of not only good plots but also the written language and the humour with an edge. And pretty close come of course, Ian Rankin, Denise Mina, Peter Robinson. And then we have all those in between, some of their books are good, some are not... Like Rennie Airth, Stephen Booth, Jim Kelly, Julia Wallis Martin. And some I have yet to discover, they wait their turn in my bedroom-heap of paperbacks... Something they all have in common though, are their outstandingly good covers!

I shouldn't buy any more books, I ought to be a good little me and read all those I have at home I haven't read yet - but I just had to buy them because the covers called out to me... - but everytime I pass a Pocketshop some invisible force urges me to enter... And who am I to resist? Who knows what goodies I might miss if I look the other way? That's just not an option!

So home with me the other day - I'm amazed how all the things that simply demands to return home with me differ from eachother, I suppose this is one way an active intellect works *best excuse ever* though the only thing I refuse to feel gulity about buying a lot of is literature! Can't have too much of that! A well written book is one of life's true treasures.

- yes home with me the other day came the books as follow;

* A carol for the dead - Patrick Dunne
* Flesh and blood - John Harvey
* Cold granite - Stuart MacBride
* Maise Dobbs - Jacqueline Winspear (About a female private detective in London in the 1920ies, 1/3 read and a really good 1/3 it has been! I'm so curious about the TV-series...)
* The Lighthouse - PD James (can't say I've been very a very faithful reader over the years, but I do like her style and choice of words and the plots and of course Adam Dalgliesh - and yes, this new book had a very nice cover...)
* Ensemble, c'est tout/Tillsammans är man mindre ensam (Together one is less alone) - Anna Gavalda (I've never read anything by her before, but I've always found the titles of her books intriguing - finally I went for one)

To pay for things bought are seldom a joy, but paying for books - that's really for a good cause, don't you think? And even to carry the more or less bulky shopping-bag is joyful. To come home and welcome the books to their new living quarters, to caress the covers, to write my name in them, to persuade them to take their turn in the line of books waiting to be read - pure happiness from a cover!

Saturday, April 14, 2007


Agent M was suppose to start the day with a round of golf - me no, I've never been and will never be interested in that primitive kind of farming - but instead he ended up in bed with a cold. He - unlike me - almost always gets better in a couple of days, so I don't pity him all that much *sorry*.
I'm more worried that he has past on that bug to me, since I do have that cold terrible from Christmas past still haunting me... And my ears haven't really recovered completely, even though the doctor said they looked fine...
So my day has been rather tranquil, I've been a good housewife *BIG joke* and done some cleaning, washing and baking - the later resulted in these rather tasty muffin with raspberry and creamcheese. The recipe I got from Dagens muffin (Today's muffin).
Oh yes, the day has been so sunny and warm that it's almost too much - remember this coming from someone who quite recently spent some weeks in the Southafrican sun without complaining a lot... - so I did turned the heat-pump off *saving some more energy and money*. Hard to imagine it was only a few weeks ago, or so, that it was heaps of snow in the garden...
Now, I'm just going to hang some bedlinen to dry, then make som tea and enjoy that with a yummy muffin *m and f's always make food sound much more appetizing, don't you think?* and a good movie - at least it shows lots of promise - Thank you for smoking. All in the company of cats & dog.

WCB - Moments in the sun with Agnes

When spring is here one simply must do the most of it, and bask in the sun whenever one gets a chance!

What better place to do that than the strategically placed corner cabinet - where one can keep a close eye on both the home and the garden? Without having to deal with fresh air, dirty paws and bugs.

That's of course how a beautiful and appearance-concious cat like Agnes (GIC S*Rövarligan Agnes) prefer to do it.

It still makes me sad to think about the fact that she never became that breeding queen I'd so much hoped for, but as so often man proposes, Nature disposes.

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And she's really herself enough, larger than motherhood, having become a really fun and friendly, playful, giant kitty after the neutering (due to uterus inflammation).

She thoroughly enjoys life and is quite an inspiration for us humans to do the most of those little moments in life we tend to disregard. Have a look at this series of sunny photos - and please feel inspired to have yourself some moments in the sun as often as possible!

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