Thursday, May 31, 2007

Hallo, sandman

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This little chocolate-white longhaired british shorthair- yes that is a contradiction in terms, but there it is - dreamer, is a just the image of what I'm feeling right now. Off to bed, a few pages of a good book and then hallo, sandman!

Life is full of choices

Life is brimming with difficult choices, decisions to be made. Should I attend that extra annual meeting of the common association concerning the new waste disposal units and their placing, or not?

I don't know why, but this annual meetings in tenant-owners' societies and common associations just brings out the worst in people, if not the worst people. Those who seem to be biding their time all year to get their 15 minutes of bitching fame at the annual meeting.

All these litigious kind of beings that have a tendency to crawl out from under the rock they've been all year, just waiting to have a word in the matter... - guess what, I just couldn't be bothered to attend.

Should I cut my hair really, very short bob-style or should I just have a trim and go for the goal of once again being able to put it in a ponytail? - I went for the later.

Should I have a muffin or Haägendasz for dessert? - I went for the icecream.

Should I continue to push through with the extremely annoying case of wrongful claim of debt for waste disposal fee, which I have paid, in full, when I got the bill. I know I'm right, and I sure know *work-experience, not me being the litigious kind* how debt collection agencies work - to put it kindly, they most often have more than their shares of brownies in the loft *I wonder if that's an expression worthy of getting into the Practica Pia...* -

so it would be interesting to take it to the court. But on the other hand, do I really care for that kind of pittance, do I have the energy to bother with it?

On the third hand - see, typically lawyer-thinking... - for every time the waste disposal company Ragnsells do this kind of thing they get a little sum here and there, not to mention the sum the debt collection agency gets, it amounts to a lot of money... And they really shouldn't get away with that!

So I'll give it some thought...

And now to the most important thing of should I watch CSI: Miami and tape that semi-crappy-English-detective-series-that's-just-mindless-relaxing-in-the-sofa-kind-of-TV called Murder in Suburbia or vice versa...?

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Vintage cherries

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When I moved into my house, about six years ago, there was an old cherry tree in the corner of the garden. The first year it blossomed and offered cherries, which were picked, the second year I'm not sure there were many cherries, but still it blossomed.

The tree mainly consisted of an old, wrinkled stock and it wasn't a very lively corner of the garden. And there wasn't much of a bloom anymore. And the cats were far to eager to use it for climbing. So I decided to cut it down - I hate killing trees and plants like that, but it felt like it wasn't really happy about its place in the world anymore. So down it came. And I haven't planted any new trees.

But what happened to the cherries picked sometime around the first summer after I had moved in? They were tucked in the freezer. Actually they've been in the freezer right up until yesterday... I'm not sure when things in the freezer can be called vintage - but I'm pretty sure that something like six years definately is vintage...

I've been meaning to do something really nice, something quite remarkable with them, I just haven't had any great ideas or recipes. Then yesterday I made a rhubarb compote, with sugar syrup and cinnamon. After having put the compote in a bowl there was some really yummy syrup left, so I decided this would be as good time as any to defrost the vintage cherries and make a sort-of-compote of them too.

I seeded them - my battle with the seeds leaving parts of the kitchen looking a bit like a slaughterhouse - and threw them into the syrup (water, lemonjuice, vanillapod, cinnamonstick) added some more sugar, and a bit of tequila - I felt like experimenting, but it probably evaporated while boiling - and let it come to a boil and then boil for some minutes.

The result? It tastes sooo incredibly goood!! Sort of tangy rather than sweet cherries, with a hint of vanilla, cinnamon and of course the rhubarb I cooked in the syrup before.

Serves really well with cinnamon muffins and whipped cream, and most certainly teams up well with good vanilla icecream.

Maybe the heavenly taste is enhanced by the fact that this really is a once in a lifetime vintage cherry compote. I hope the cherry tree that now lives in another world is proud of it's achivement of giving such good cherries in this world, my world, that ended up in such a nice compote. Thank you so much for your kind provide, cherrytree!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Meet Stevia

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This is Stevia, a South American herb that's 300 (!) times sweeter than sugar. It has been used by Indian tribes in Paraguay for centuries, mainly as a sweetener in tea and for medical reasons. Apparently the use of it hasn't been completely without controversy, mainly in the US.

More interesting details and studies concerning this plant, and links, you'll find here and here.

Myself, I had no idea such a plant even existed, until I stumbled over it at the garden festival at Street some weeks ago. One plant came with me home, since I find it really interesting to try this sweet thing out. She - of course it's a she! - still lives in a flower pot and awaits her place in the flowerbed. I haven't tried to sweeten anything with her yet - but as far as I've read I'm once again impressed by nature's ingenuity, Stevia kicks!

Malte, posterdog for Schnorfolk

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Meet the new - and only? - spokesdog for the new breed of Schnorfolk (miniature Schnauzer + Norfolk terrier) - Malte! Today he got his summerstyle and seems to be happy with it, me I'm not sure if it's a good look for him or not... What do you think? Any suggestions on the finishing touch for this seasons look?

Monday, May 28, 2007

it is the time of blisters

It's the best of times, it's the worst of times - I've just ordered a bunch of books online, so I felt like playing a bit with words.

By the way, anyone but me who thinks it's almost to easy buy things nowadays, and I'm not even too keen on ordering online or through catalogues, I want to touch the fabric and feel the texture, try on and scrutinize the work, but when it comes to things like that book or that CD I just have to have it right now, when I actually manage to find it... And some other trinkets now and then, no to mention pearls and stones, oh my... I shouldn't have brought that up, it was ages ago since I last browse through those websites...

Anyway, back to those best and worst of times. That it is now, this particular time of year, that weather and temperaturewise is so lovely in Sweden - but also rather hellish when it comes to my poor feet. I know, I've been proned to get blisters easily for ever, but last year was worse than that for ever.

Every shoe, new as well as old, brought me new scorching blisters on almost every part of my feet. Even some parts I didn't know I was blessed with... I've tried the patches that in Sweden go by the name of Compeed, they worked well in the beginning, then they sucked too - or perhaps didn't suck, since they didn't attach to the feet properly which resulted in worse sores than the blisters themselves...

I've tried to wrap adhesive tape around the Compeed patches - didn't work either. Tried regular patches, surprise, didn't work. Changing shoes everyday, new blisters kept appearing. Tiny socks in summer shoes - new blisters in new and exciting places.

The weather in South Africa being all warm and sticky, but I actually didn't get a single blister while there. I wonder why? Since the warm and sticky weather in Europe is complete hell for me blisterwise.

Mr M is totally convinced it's all due to the fact that I do take care of my feet, too much care of the feet just isn't good for them. This comes from someone who can't spell to the word footfile, whose secret middle name most probably is cheese rind and whose feet easily could be mistaken for an elephants... Baby elephant, but nevertheless an elephant.

And since the blisters usually doesn't appear in the areas that you use a footfile on, well, I don't give a lot for that idea of cause and effect.

The first blisters have already appeared this season, that sure didn't take long, poor feet, all sore and unhappy. I'm not sure which shoes I can lure them into now. And what bait to use... Tomorrow I have an appointment for a pedicure, I hope the tootsy-wootsies will be happy about that surprise and the pampering they'll get! I know I will.

And I'm totally welcoming any suggestions on how to avoid getting blisters, any new ones I haven't tried yet...

Beautyproducts update

Time has come for an update on the what-do-I-use-pre-in-post-shower-front I think. And why not first look to your left, where you find a pic of a couple of really lovely, fresh soaps from the Swedish textile company Himla that mainly works with linen fabrics - love those linen cloths!

The soaps I actually bought last summer I think, but I haven't had the time to use one until now. But they have laid very patiently waiting in a bowl in the kitchen and have reminded me of their existence by sending out tiny messages of lovely scent now and then.

* So first up is the pale green soap to the very left; Himla Feeling Green Tea - gorgeous scent (I adore green tea products!), gives a smoooth, clean feeling afterwards. Long lasting, and I really like the way the soap is cut in a very basic, handmade style.

* Revitalising shampoo, Molton Brown - it's a tiny, old bottle, I'm no sure that particular product exists anymore. And just as good is that, since I think it's a really ordinary, too-much-of-a-after-shave-scent-shampoo.

* Sure Crystal Pure Silver Julien Macdonald limited edition antiperspirant deodorant - phew, was that a long name or what? Lovely scent, not sure about the longlasting effect though. But I bought it mainly because of the bottle...

* Pink Happiness, Revlon - bodylotion with aloe vera and chamomile, love the scent and its creamy texture! And yes it reminds me so much of South Africa, haven't seen the bottle here so I suppose it's a country-specific product/scent.

* Moisture Rich Foot Lotion with aloe vera, Ms Pedicure the foot Diva! - small bottle, picked it up in Florida years ago, it must be really longlasting though, since it seems quite impossible to finish the bottle. Great scent, feet like!

* Taft hairmousse volume, Schwarzkopf - basically it's a crappy hairmousse that leaves your (my) hair all droopy and lifeless. Some days it does shows it capacity to boost volume though, even if those days are rare. Not much left of the bottle now, will never buy again since I want everyday to be a good hairday!

* Black orchid lipgloss, Laura Mercier - don't you just love those lipsticks and glosses that has an appealing scent to them? This one does, so every time you put some gloss on you're also sort of revitalised by that certain scent of something irresistable sweet and yummy... Also love the colour and the modest gloss-effect. What I don't like is that it's actually rather drying and needs a lot of reapplying.

If your a member of the Club of Interest and is are more than keen to read the initial beautyproduct list of mine, you can begin here and then work your way back from that.

Any tips on products that ought to be tested or questions, I'm all eyes and fingers on the keypad!

WCB - The Bird butcher

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Yes I know, technically the weekend is over, here in this part of the world anyway. And I did miss the deadline for the "official" WCB - so I'll have my very own, and I'll have it whenever it pleases me!

Since we had the pleasure of meeting a bunch of cats yesterday, I was going to write about the fact that I wasn't a very popular catphotographer amongst that gang, they just kept nipping their eyes closed, go away, leave me alone, get that thing out of my face, no, no, no!

But I'll save that for another day, since I have my very own trauma to write about. This is BIG news, scary news and one subject I'd never, ever thought I'd write about. Since my cats are completely wellbehaved, caring and respectful of other species. Except flies and the odd wasp that is. Posh pure-breeds. Too good for doing dirty catty deeds. Or so I thought. Until this evening.

When a bloody drama took place in my garden - the murderer of birds you can see in the pictures. Knut, the very esteemed fourlegged prime minister of Sweden (read most all about it here, only in Swedish though). He obviously thought it would be a proper achievement to add to his CV, something to boast and brag about amongst his fellow ministers. Perhaps being something that would really show his furry chest and his manly instincts.

I didn't see the actual capturing and killing - and believe you me, the whole dramatic aftermath will give me enough food for nightmares many nights to come... - it was all just a fact when completed one might say. We first thought it was a toy, he had brought with him to the garden...

Then we thought it might be a mouse, scary enough, but then M ascertained it was a tiny bird, very dead. So sad. Or well, why should a bird's life be more valuable than that of a mouse... In my world a life is a life is a life, at least when it comes to the innocent in the shape of an animal.

The death of a bird, caused by the cat known as Knut a k a known as the true ruler of the kingdom of Sweden, was a fact. Sad but true. I'm not sure what he did with the bird after he had played with the poor, dead one. Hid it in a shrub, maybe feasted on it *brrr* - no way I'd go out in the garden to find out.

Someone who doesn't spell his or her name with the letters p i a will surely have to go scavenger hunting in the garden tomorrow. Or maybe not. Because, when I went into the little boys' room to close the window I discovered the corpse of a small black bird lying on the scratching-tree.

I screamed, I ran out of the room, I closed and locked the door, I rambled, there's no way I'm going to have a good night's sleep now. No it's not always rosy living in the company of cats. Especially not those who perhaps have an ulterior motive and a political agenda.
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Edit: The bird-corpse on the scratching-post turned out to be thrown up grass in the shape of a birdlike body... I e, the dead bird either lies in someone's tummy now or is hidden in the garden. I feel a bit restricted in my use of the garden now. Lawnmowing is completely out of the question... Or walking around in the grass. Or dibble in the flowerbeds. Nope, this really isn't my cup of tea...

Sunday, May 27, 2007

All about the dogs

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Yesterday we visited friends who live about two hours drive from us. Malte doesn't always come with us when we're out driving or visiting, he has a tendency to making the day revolving around him, like a little annoying, spoilt child who hasn't gotten any rules to live by...

Partly due to his breed, partly his personality, partly perhaps, just maybe, the owner - I'm not sure who that is... - didn't set completely strict bounderies and rules for him when a pup. He just bounced out of the transportation-box when moving in and became a cat. Sort of. He thinks so, the cats don't.

The puppy-school I enrolled us in when he was a pup was just a complete joke - Malte thought so too. He behaved really well, did every exercise right the first time, then thought it was utterly boring and acted all can't-we-play-now-please.
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I love him dearly, he's all happy and playful, and a complete cuddly charmer. I don't think there's a mean bone in that little cobby body of his. But he also demands so very much more than a cat, and he mostly has less patience than a sewing needle "I want that, and I want it NOW!".

And even though I guess he's far from being a really pestilent terrier kind of dog, all yappy and tiresome and superenergetic, the energy is still constantly there, and in the right kind of company he gets all hyper and winded, and more than difficult to get to calm down.

Yes, of course he can be ignored when away visiting, and then he'll mostly just settle down on a blanket and fall asleep. But since he's a little herding dog - at least he thinks so - he always want to feel he has control over the whole herd, so noone can leave the room, or the path when out walking, without him being upset and irritated over the lapse in the herd.

So, well, sometimes it's just much more rewarding and restful for everyone that he stays at home, watching and guarding "his" herd of cats and the house.

But this time, since he has really been pleading and nagging us for ages to go and visit his friends Isak and Herta, two lovely brown labradors, he came along. On a wonderful sunny day in late May. And as the title reads, this entry will be all about the dogs and their funfilled day. Here comes a little cavalcade of pictures;
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Isak welcoming Malte dearly
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Being very dangerous...
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Do you think she needs help out there?
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You just need to give a bark and I'll be there, you know!
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I can at least help you the last inch or so
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Hey, guys, shouldn't we think about heading back home now...?
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Now we think it's high time for that little fellow to get in the car and let us get some rest...

Friday, May 25, 2007

The Mission

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I've come to realise, that my current mission in life is to try out new places to eat - not necessarily very fancy places (since well, frankly the price for eating out rarely goes hand in hand with the quality of the food and experience...) but more the places everyone can afford. Now and then.

And since one has to eat, everyday, one might as well, when the opportunity occurs or one is in the mood, seek out new places to have lunch, dinner or coffee at. I'm not really interested in cooking, but I've always loved to try out places for food while travelling, while at home.

And as it happens I've sort of gotten a bit of a special sleuthic sense for stumbling over - when not on a true mission with a designated goal - the neatest places. If I may say so myself. And I may indeed!

One of my most memorable moments is having lunch in the greenhouse at Badger's Hill Farm just outside Canterbury, UK - such a precious oasis!

And I just loved the ambiance - and tasty food - at Sirocco in Kalk Bay, South Africa (top pic) - drove by, the glimpse of it all just drew me in like a magnet...
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Not to mention the tasty, extremly good value for money, with friendly staff, miniature of a restaurant nestled in a residential neighbourhood in Cape Town - The Daily Deli *miss a lot*

But, my life mostly revolves in and around Stockholm - and I really think there are a lot of good restaurants and cafés here - in every price range - so this mission sure keeps me going, walking up and down the streets of Stockholm (which is of course the perfect way to excercise some food off!)

Since there's absolutely no way one can try out every place - I'm not really sure if that's a good or bad thing... - one, a k a yours truly, really has to depend on ones own ability to ferret food-things out, as well as recommendations from friends, family and acquaintances.

I'm not really much for getting tips from magazines and newspapers - and that's the reason I probably would have missed out on today's great lunch-experience if it hadn't been for Anne *thanks for reading the newspaper and taking me there*
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A tiny place called Café Lola, which serves fantastic hot and cold sandwiches with quite the inventive stuffing - I had grilled halloumi on ryebread with chili/lemon mix and lettuce. Soo good! The coffee wasn't very enjoyable, but with that kind of sandwich sensation I don't really care.

Café Lola was also one of the cafés being nominated to the Golden Dragon, café-category, an annual competition held by the largest Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter (The Daily News).

At the moment it's quite an enjoyable thing to get a break now and then, from the musts in life, and sniff out these food-gems for my very personal enjoyment. But hey, I wouldn't mind getting paid for doing this...

Anybody interested in getting a Pia-approved - or not-approved - stamp on places to eat and drink - just give me a twist and shout!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Lunch at Café Kajak

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Kajak means kayak and it's also the name of the most adorable little café/restaurant I had lunch at today - this day, yet another glorious pre-summer day in Stockholm! It's situated close to Smedsuddsbadet (a bathing place in the middle of the city) in a listed building from the turn of the 19th century. With a most wonderful view over Riddarfjärden and parts of the city.
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Café Kajak serves well-made food, with an organic touch, and coffee plus sweets. It also has its own bakery. The portions were l a r g e, so I really think, if you're not v e r y hungry you might as well share one and then have a cake as dessert.
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Veggie grilled sandwich, yum, yum, really nicely spiced. And then a chanterelle soup - I must confess, chanterelles are far from a favourite mushroom of mine, apart from having a sort of slimy texture that makes it difficult to swallow and well, keep down, it has a certain aroma of wet dog to it... - which was equally spicy and creamy.

And yes, even I enjoyed it! Served in a large bowl - and as you can see we had some really eager spongers visiting...
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Some of the food went with us in a doggy-bag - yes, we just had to make room for sharing that mouthwatering really nutty carrot-cake with the coffee...
And after we had finished eating it was of course free food for the spongers!
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Café Kajak is situated just below the bridge Västerbron, which has one of the most amazing views overlooking Stockholm. Which gives lots of opportunity for good pictures to be shot. We went on the "wrong side" of the bridge - which is frequently used by cars, so you can't just skip over to the other side - that offers less impressive Stockholm-views, so unfortunately I can't show much of picturesque views...
But here's one of the bathing place close to Café Kajak, Smedsuddsbadet. Not really well-patronaged at the moment, but it sure will be in some weeks I should imagine...
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And yes, I can give you a glimpse of my childhood below, in the dark pink house block to the left, I lived the first five years of my life. I swear I hear the club of interest taking careful notes there...
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The Stockholm greenbelts - Ängsjö

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In and around the vicinity of Stockholm, there are several greenbelts which are enjoyable to visit for some outdoor-activities like swimming, canoeing, walking, running, skiing, skating...

The green oasis in the middle of the city, Djurgården, which I wrote about here, is probably the most wellknown greenbelt in the Stockholm area, and also probably the most easily accessable one.
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Ängsjö (translates sort of Meadow lake) is an outdoor-area situated about 30 kilometres northwest of Stockholm. It offers a vast recreation area as well as conference facilities. You can also rent small cottages. But one really has to ahve a car to get there.

It's actually situated not really far from where I live, but still, I haven't had the chance to explore it until pretty recently.
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It's a very unspoilt as well as unpretentious greenbelt. Great for taking the dog for a walk on secluded forrest-paths.Yes, most enjoyable for dogs it seems - even more so when you're able to take a refreshing mudbath along the way... He got bathed just before we left home - lot of good that did...
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As I wrote before I myself am not the water/boat/swimming kind of person, but if you're so inclined there are canoes to be rented at Ängsjö.
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And after having had a brisk walk - if you're not the (mud)bathing-boating type - you can enjoy a simple cup of coffee - no lattes to be seen! I'm still not certain of that's a good or a bad thing...- with a sandwich, cake, icecream, sweets at the small café.

While you're having your coffee you can contemplate on life and enjoying the splendid green, green grass of a view!
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I really ought to get out there more... Even if one definately could do without mudbathing dogs...

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Swedish cake (recipe)

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... or the Yellow and blue lemoncake I wrote about yesterday, turned out really well. And it made such a pretty picture I think, even though I missed a bit when sprinkling the greased cake tin with breadcrumbs instead of the blue poppyseeds. Don't think there'd been a major difference though, with the icing sugar on top. I also skipped the candied orange peel, can't stand that stuff.

Here's the recipe, for the easy peasy thing:

175 g butter, the liquid kind is fine
3 dl sugar (you could probably use less, I think it's a bit too sweet...)
2 eggs
1 lemon, peel and juice
3/4 dl blue poppy seeds and about 1,5 dl for sprinkling the cake tin
2 dl flour

Grease a cake tin, about 23 cm in diameter. Sprinkle it with poppyseeds - even if I think any breadcrumbs will do just fine...

Melt the butter and let it cool, or use that useful already liquid mix of butter/oil and skip the melting bit. I did, and almost always do when it comes to baking.

Then stir in the sugar, eggs, lemon peel and juice, poppy seeds and the flour.

Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake for about 35 minutes in 180 C.

Let it cool somewhat, sprinkle with icing sugar and serve with whipped cream. Enjoy!
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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Me and you and everyone we know

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Being the name of a movie I hadn't had the chance to watch until now - and I loved it! Over the years I've come to more and more appreciate that certain style of movie, unpretentious with and about windswept outsiders, but still very much like me and you and everyone we know - what an apt name of the movie!

Even the poop-part of the movie (#1), yes that was mainly about childrens fascination about such issues below the waistline, was utterly entertaining and sort of endearing. In a both sad, fun, thoughtful and strange way.

And staying with that subject, I realized that three out of four really good laughters I've had lately has revolved around that lower part-subject. I'm not sure if it has something to do with the fact that we - we in this case perhaps being me and you and most everyone we know... - consider ourselves to be far above that poopy-kind of humour, so it is with a slight guilt we indulge in such matters. And while giving oneself up to that kind of slightly guilty humour we also release tensions and get in touch with our inner child...

Or perhaps it's just so darn fun, no matter what age you're in!

And being one of the "last taboos" in this world, sharing laughters around that particular subject might actually bring people closer together - I found this entry over at dooce's to be completely hilarious as well as sort of precious (#2).

And yes I do find the way she put her witty words, with a certain cynical, ironic, clever personal lemon twist, to the blog great. In a way I'd never be able to put English words to paper. I turn more than slightly green while reading, I must admit. While competely enjoying most things I'm reading.

Another blog I now and then pop - notice, only one "o" - by and read is Konsum, a Swedish one, with an anonymous blogger who's supposedly works at a local Konsum store near me (and you and everyone we know...). And I just say wow, it's a ding ding world... Anyhow, this particular entry was about *surprise* customers pooping in the store.

Yes I'm serious, my best friend in junior-school's mum worked at H&M back then, and she shared her experiences of people having a very regular habit of doing just that in the dressing-rooms, sometimes covering it up with clothes, sometimes not...

So if you're Swedish is more or less fluent, why not pop - remember, one "o" - over and read this entry (#3) Do not forget to read all the more-than-worth-reading-comments on the subject...

And for more Swedish felicitously written entries, head over to the entry about Papegojpojken(The Parrot-boy being laughter #4, and not having anything whatsoever to do with poop) at Ett liv i exil (A life in exile).

Yellow and blue comfort bake

I've just realised - well, not just now, M has been telling me for years, put I've just not put it into words/writing until now - that whenever I want to put things off for a while, or feel a bit low, or have a lot on my mind that need to be sorted out and dealt with, one of these days, not right now though...

Well, then I tend to either bake some old goodie-cake or try out some new recipes for cakes and pastries. Never cooking, just baking. And when they're fresh from the oven I always shoot a picture or two or more, just to make sure there's some photographic proof I actually made that cake, bake, bun, fun thing to keep thoughts from getting too close to the truth. Whatever that truth might be. Or perhaps it's just a figment of my imagination. Whatever.

I might sample a piece or two of the thing fresh from the oven, but mostly I just give it away or put it in the freezer for days when the longing for something sweet for teatime is overwhelming. Which happens now and then.

And when I sample I just have to have that matched with the perfect tea, and as you all know the perfect tea, if you want just the teaish tea-taste and no flavoured stuff, is without hesitation Yorkshire Gold.

M has a colleague in England who always is kind enough to bring me these XL-sized packages of the stuff that make my tea-addicted heart to beat a little faster. he hasn't been here for a while though, my stash of the it-tea was quickly running out. And well, let me tell you, I wasn't exactly pleased with the fact that M for some mysterious reason found suitable to help HIMSELF to the LAST teabag of the tea-Gold the other day...

My when one is ready to pull ones Yorkshire Gold-addicted-hair off, then there's actually help to be found. At The English Shop they sell all those must-have English food stuff, mainly for expatriates I'd guess, but also for us, the others, the ones who really can't live without a certain brand of tea, a certain kind of jam, a certain kind of biscuits etc etc.

The prices aren't really comparable with what you'd pay for it at the superstore in the UK, but hey, do I want my hair to be still attached to my head or or not...?

So, yesterday I had the opportunity to stock up on the Golden tea, as well as finding som new one I hadn't tried before, raspberry flavoured - will get back to you on the consumer analysis on that one.

So opening up a brand new package of the golden stuff, that really deserves a brand new cake bake I think. So right now, waiting in the oven is a very Swedish indeed-cake - blue and yellow, like the colours of the Swedish flag, poppyseed and lemon cake. The recipe I got from The Garden Café at Rosendal Cookbook - a lovely book, mainly for its pictures and the sentiment I think. Perhaps not always the recipes themselves... Or perhaps, very perhaps, it might have something to do with the baker P, the cook P, not being a good baker, cook enough. Sometimes.

By the way, I found a fun little piece in The Washington Post, on three places to eat when in Stockholm. I don't necessarily agree with the journalist's oipinion about the places, but still, it's always fun to read what a visitor to Sweden chose to eat and appreciate.
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And just so you know, this is the time of lilacs in bloom in Sweden. This should also be the time of lilacs in bloom in my garden. It isn't. I dressed the lilac hedge just the way it should be dressed right after blooming last year. It should bloom this year just because of that. It doesn't and it won't. And I'm not really happy about that.

It has grown very dense, very green, very leafy. No lilacs to be seen though. The air should be filled with that sweet, lovable scent of lilacs in bloom. But in my garden it isn't. Alas, I just have to enjoy the colourful teatime without any lilacs in my arbour.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Pizza boy

I'm not too keen on pizza. Either the crusts are too thick and doughy or too thin and more or less cremated.
They are either too greasy or too dry, too much cheese - yes there can be... - or too little, foul tasting tomatoesauce... Yes the list of reasons for not liking pizza seems to be endless...
And I really don't care if the Swedish pizza buzz-word is stenugnsbakad (stone-ovenbaked?) - they most often are scorched beyond pizza-recognition.
The best pizza I've ever had was at a little "nameless" family restaurant in Venice. It was called Tricolore and had the amazing topping of carrots, spinach and mushrooms - a perfect crust, a perfect tomatoe-base, a perfect amount of cheese and baked in the (perfect) oven at a perfect temperature for a perfect amount of time.
But if I can't have that perfect pizza of three colours, I have only one place, in Stockholm, where I know I always enjoy the pizza I get on my plate. And I always have the same one - the vegetarian. Which always is made with fresh - not those disgusting tinned ones - veggies like mushroom, paprika, artichoke and red onion.
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Oh, and the name of the place that serves this most flavoury pizza in Stockholm - well it's Ricardo's, at Timmermansgatan 40.
And what about you, do you enjoy eating pizza or not? And where do you think they serve the best pizza ever?

Three literary females

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Right now I should *I will, I am, promise, just ponder a bit over the perfect wording* - be writing job applications. I'm doing this and trying to convince myself not to get too bored out of my wit and approaching it in a salesman-way *that's SO NOT me*;

Every "no, thank you" is a step closer to a yes, yes, yes!

And I really, badly need a break from thinking-like-a-salesman...

So what can be better than to think wordly thoughts on what really pleases me, that certain something that fills me with joy and warm-hearted thoughts, that paint the whole world with pink happiness - well, sort of, mostly - that certain something that goes by the name book.

And yes I did promise I'd review a few books, mainly giving you the name of my newfound favourite writer - at least I hope she'll be, that the rest of her books will be equally amazing... - but I'll get to her in due time. First out will be another newfound writer, namely

* Jacqueline Winspear - Maisie Dobbs is a female private detective in London in the 1920ies. She's been a nurse in the WW1 trenches and the full extent of her experiences there isn't revealed until the very last pages - that's a really neat way to keep the interest going!

And yes, I guess that if I wasn't eagerly awaiting that, I'm not sure if I'd continued reading the book all the way to the end... The first third of the book was showing so much promise, but then there was a flashback to her childhood and how she took her first steps towards enlightenment. And really, that was described in such an irritating fussily way I squirmed every time I turned a page...

The last third of the book picked up, but that middle third part had partly ruined the reading experience and yes, my overall impression of the book is FUSSY and sort of patronizing. And lo and behold, what a surprise, the ending and the plot was a really slapdashjob.

I love the paperback cover though. And well, yes, these kind of nice, sapient detective stories almost always give me sleuthic ideas of becoming one myself... Which is of course completely ridiculous... Isn't it...? Pia-mark: 2-3/5

* Marian Keynes gets me Further under the duvet. I'm not really sure why I continue reading her books, I think she repeats herself again and again and again AND again... But I suppose it's a rather entertaining repetion, in smaller doses. Even if the stories are but meager.

Since the Keynes-dose in general absorbs through one eye and sort of evaporate through the other, i e it's hard to even remotely remember what you've read after a minute or two, you can start all over again and convince yourself you've never read someting like it before... Sort of. Well, in parts she does write very entertainingly and humorous - but in parts her writing really bugs the * out of me.

And yes, you're allowed to indulge in your passion for shopping, shoes, cosmetics, HANDBAGS as well as being a concerned consumer with a conscience *I think*, but sometimes all that just goes a bit excessive in her books, for my humble taste... And this book only basically being previously published magazine-articles, well... Pia-mark: -2/5

And now the piece de resistance;

* Ensemble, cést tout by Anna Gavalda, with the lovely translation into Swedish being "Together one is less alone" (and the English translation for some unknown reason being "Hunting and gathering"...??). After one page of the book I was in tears. After a few more pages I was deeply in love. And having finished it - with many underlines! - I have a certain feeling of undeniable loss.

It is just that kind of book you both fervently want to finish, want to see the very last sentence of, want to absorbe in full as well as wanting to savour every piece of, every syllable of, every letter of for ever and ever... Truly, madly, deeply loved every page of it! Pia-mark: +5/5

Sunday, May 20, 2007

No Fun Light at all

I'm not a fan at all of these Swedish sugar-free fruit syrups called Fun Light. I have friends who swear by them and M happily gulps it down -
myself I'm a tap water or fruitjuice kind of gal. I think these artifical flavours are pretty revolting and horrific.
But hey, I'm all up for trying most things at least once - so when some new flavours appeared on the market I thought I'd give it a consumer research, just for Fun.
Peach passion - well, the flavour is sort of ok, quite nice. But I'm not really sure if it reminds me a lot of my favourite peach bodysplash from Bath & Body Works and the lack of opportunity to get a hold of that -
since they for some annoying reason don't ship abroad and for some other even more annoying reason don't open up stores in Europe... And why did they close down the shops in England and Scotland?? I could easily have tide them over if it was a shortage of customers that was the reason for closing down. But they didn't ask... -
is the reason for me appreciate glugging the liquid down.
Darling Rhubarb - lovely name, horrible, awful, disgusting, repulsive artifical flavour - smells like industrial window-cleaner, tastes - which I only imagine it does of course... - like industrial window-cleaner. I seriously doubt they've made any trial tastings. "What the heck, fun, light, rhubarb, pink, darling and a silver cork, of course this will sell!"
Crystal Cranberry Lime - this is apparently something one is in desperate need of, some flavours to enliven pure tap water, the TV-comercials for this particular light of Fun are shown on TV a l l t h e t i m e. And it tastes sooo goood!
Completely bogus marketing, since tap water in general in Sweden tastes rather lovely, and if one - for some odd reason - would like to have flavoured water one could just as easily buy bottled water with a decent kind of flavour. And not this completely foul tasting thing.
Amazing Grape - actually, this was kind of drinkable with an appealing abrasive edge to it. Me like!
But well, as you might have guessed, I'm not the least bit Fun Light-converted. Not at all.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

WCB #102 - The Thinking companion

Years ago I got this great poster sent to me from my friend K in Berlin, it's a black and white picture of a cat and the words "Man kann in Leben auf vieles verzichten, aber nicht auf Katzen und Literatur" -

you can live without many things, but not without cats and literature.

And of course I couldn't agree more!! There's a reason she sent me that poster I guess... I framed it and it still hangs on the wall in one of my rooms. To glance at that poster and see those words sure is a mood-enhancer!

And I think this wonderful little tortie tabby kitty in the picture illustrates this marriage between cats and literature perfectly. Since she spends most of her time being a helper - and famous attraction I might add - in a bookshop in Norrtälje.

In the back of my head I just know there's an endearing story to this bookstore cat, but I can't seem to neither remember it nor find it right now. But I'll keep trying, and then update this entry!

Another thing that I do find rather appealing with cats, that being owned by one or more of these furry little charmers, is to be in very distinguished company. Since so many catlovers through the centuries have been and are famous writers, poets, artists, singers, musicians, painters and designers.

Cats do seem to be very popular among the intellectuals and the cultural elite, and isn't that delightful?! That there seem to be a common quality in cats that strike an influental cord in many great thinkers -

yes, perhaps one might be as bold as to say that it's actually the cats themselves, as a beings, that have had so many great and talented ideas through the years. Ideas that they have communicated mentally to their human adorers... That grand humanistic progress, and wonderful art, might actually be grand and inspirational cat-istic thought-waves, that have been translated into human language...

Now, isn't that food for thought!

This week's WCB is kindly hosted by Kashim and Othello over at Paulchen's Food Blog, and if I'm not mistaken there are some yummy snacks and a sunny spot to lie in, on offer there...

Spork & design

When I bought this little ingenious thing - pink of course! - at Designtorget (The Design Square) I had actually no idea that the spork was such an old invention. Every day is a learning day.

There are apparently different fanclubs, for example The slighly less than official spork page, and you can perhaps get your fervent spork-questions answered at The Spork FAQ.
The spork I bought - and who always travels in the vanity bag - is a Swedish designed one, which goes by the name Light my fire.
At Designtorget you can find some really nice, inventive and sometimes so useful items you really don't know how you once could manage without them. A great place to find gifts for yourself or for others. And definately for those others who seem to have almost everything imaginable already!
I'm not really impressed my Designtorget's website though.
And not always their ability to chose the right mix of products for the shops.
And most definately not their consignment agreements, which is the way they always sell the different designer-stuff. If you don't have a design that's easily massproduced at low costs, well then this isn't the place for you since they take a whooping 45-55% in commission fee...
But the spork I like, a lot, and yes, it is a fantastic place for finding presents that don't come thirteen to the dozen.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Road trip - Norrtälje

Today has been what we in Sweden refer to as a general, not for all but for many employees, bridge day. To make a little road trip we drove to a small town, very much a summer town really, about one hour's drive north of Stockholm called Norrtälje.

M's family derives from that part of Sweden, called Roslagen which mostly consists of archipelago. It's also a very common part for Stockholmians to have a summer house in. Norrtälje is the "capital" of Roslagen one might say. So now and then we pop by and "do" the town, and of course always enjoy a "fika" at one of the numerous cafés there.

There are also quite a few interesting interior decoration shops to be found there - and be warned it's rather impossible to leave town without having bougt something very *necessary*... - the most prominent probably being Akeba - who has really lovely wellmade furnitures, kitchen ware, fabrics, details, toys etc etc. Just be sure that you get the right price as discussed written down if you order something not available in the store right now since they have a tendency to jack up the price when you pick the ware up...

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And if you're interested in books as well as cats - and of course, any sensible human being is. The two things in life you just can't live without! - you should pop in at Ekbloms bookstore and see if their beautiful tortie girl is resting in her basket at the counter (you see her in the picture above, I bought a really sweet picture of her today).

Some other small, specialized, fun shops can be found as well as the usual boring chain stores stuff like H&M, Lindex, Duka, KappAhl etc.

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It's quite a cute town with many old wooden houses and picturesque sightings. A creek runs right through it. I didn't get any great pictures today though, the hazy weather made it difficult. But at least it gives you an idea of the place.

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And having walked up and down the streets, browsing through the shops, jostled with the crowds on this bridge day with grand weather one most definately deserves some lunch! And as I said before, there are a lot of places to chose from - they even got a dog café with free fill up... - some rather overrated though...

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We headed over to Landkrabban (The Landlubber), who serves excellent sandwiches and lighter meals and munched on these sandwiches with seafood stuffing.

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The dessert we had at En liten smula - wordplay in Swedish that means something like A little bite/bit/crumb - a periphrastic little place that opened in 2001. My opinion about it is that yes it's a very cute place, friendly staff, everything looks amazing - unfortunately the savour hardly ever live up to the mouthwatering finish... Pretty, but also pretty hyped. As was their price on the Kusmi tea-tins. So disappointing, since I had my eyes set on a couple of new flavours...

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The cinnamon buns usually is an exception to that rule - and aren't they just awesome looking?! - we bought some right from the oven today, still warm when we arrived back home hours later... Unfortunately, they were just boringly flavourless and doughy...

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But then we enjoyed the very exception to the rule-of-not-living-up-to-its-amazing-looks at the café today - the wild strawberry pannacotta cake wasn't all that, but the chocolate toffee pie with wild strawberry icecream on the side was just d i v i n e!

By and large, a pretty fine day, I'd say!
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