Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Hands Off

Since late 80ies-early 90ies women in Sweden, of a certain age, in a certain age group, have been "invited" to on a regular basis take part in a nationwide mass mammography screening of healthy women. Until now I haven't belong to that age group, and I don't, luckily and touch wood, belong to any risk group, so I haven't given the procedure all that much thought. Yes, until now that is. When I suddenly have stepped over a dreaded threshold and find myself belonging to that particular age group. I'm talking about the age group of the new twenties.

And not only do I belong to that certain age group, now, I also in my letter box found a summon to this mass screening. A screening you have to pay for - certainly a reduced price, and of course I don't mind paying a reasonable sum for a doctor's appointment and medical care. If I myself chose or have to make an appointment that is.

What I really do mind is that you somehow, as a woman, a healthy one, in Sweden, is suppose to be so extremely grateful for being offered this chance of a very painful procedure. A procedure that is *said to* make all the difference when it comes to detecting early stages of breast cancer.

What there's little talk of - and woe the ones that dare to think differently, and actually have reinforcing research to prove their point. Woe the ones that have a different view on the reasonableness of this kind of mass screening - is the research findings that show there are other procedures, less painful, like MRI that have a much higher percentage of detecting the early stages of malignant cellular changes. Whilst the mammography screening apparently has a tendency to miss about 50% of those malignant changes.

Not only that, what are benign tumours fairly often through this mass screening lead to many serious implications such as unnecessary treatment, surgery and suffering for many women. I just can't seem to shake off the feeling of this mass procedure being a very strange web of horror propaganda. For a whole lot of different hidden agendas.

A sad and worrying fact is that the medical attendance, research and treatment of women in the health care realm in general lag the care and treatment men gets. And somehow I don't think it's all that far fetched to mull a bit over the possible scenario that if mammography being a thing when men had to pull out there nuts and have them crushed in a screening machine, I bet they wouldn't be all that grateful for that golden opportunity. I'm rather convinced they'd scream loud and clear demanding other less painful, intimidating and degrading procedures to be established. Right now.

Whilst women are bunched together as a group of moo cows, up for screening. Here's your appointment, stand in fold, pay please, out and up with the breast, crush. Honestly, I think it's not only insulting I also think its a violation of integrity, masked in concern for women health issues.

And those were and are the multiple reasons why I, after thinking it through over and over again, turned this debatable *offer* down. I'm now going to read and learn more about the pros and cons, the alternatives and different views. That I said no this time, doesn't mean I won't change my mind in the future. But in my world, a healthy amount of scepticism is never ever wrong.

I also want to mention that I by no means live in the it-doesn't-happen-to-me-illusion. Awful, horrible, tragic things happen to most everyone. Lightning strikes. Things fall from out of the blue above. Most accidents happen in the home. And so forth. I'm probably no more imperishable than my neighbour - well, perhaps two or three of them, but...

I do have friends and acquaintances who have had both chemotherapy and mastectomy due to breast cancer. So yes, things happen. Terrible, devastating, overturning events. However, that doesn't mean I have to concur with the seemingly well-meaning mass herding of women and their body parts into a questionable procedure. Moo.

In Desperate Need Of A Furcut

A perfect example of someone badly in need of a furcut. I honestly don't think it's very humane to groom a dog the way some breeds are *suppose* to be groomed. So for some years now I've had a friend who's good with the shaver come by and give him a snazzy look a couple of times a year instead. Snip, snip and Malte has got a brand new look. A look the adorable furball is in desperate need of now I believe...

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Green Jacket & Red Bureau

When taking the c-train to and from my suburban homebase and the city one passes a huge warehouse were the charity organisation Erikshjälpen opened up a store a few months back.

For quite some time now we've said that we ought to pay them a visit, but somehow never got around to it. Last weekend we did though. And at the same time we gave away some boxes of miscellaneous stuff, that will hopefully bring in at least a few bobs for a good cause.

And then we had a browse around the place, which was indeed large. Jampacked with furniture, clothes, china, books, fabrics, pretty much everything really.

When it comes to second hand clothes I'm far from a keen shopper. Partly since I'm not very good at finding the right garments, partly because frankly I find it somewhat grody wearing some unknown person's old disused clothes. Never mind they're most often washed, I'm still uneasy about it. But if I was better at finding the good stuff, at the right place, for the right price, I'd probably be willing to overlook that feeling... As I actually did last weekend.

First, let me give you a bit of background to this. Silly as it may be, I still like it when strange, coincidental (?) things happen, being at the right place at the right time, looking the right way and so forth. When in Amsterdam last autumn taking a riverboat trip we passed a large vintage market on the quays, and from the boat I saw this green leather jacket, in a certain model, a perfect nuance.

I usually shy away from buying leather garments - well, obviously certain handbags and shoes not included in that then. Yes, my normally not very lax conscience has a perfect excuse for those buys... But if it's inherited clothes or second hand, well then I might consider at least looking at them, possibly trying them on, and yes, even buying them if they fit and don't smell too musty.

*Of course* I just couldn't find the jacket when we roamed around the quays, but ever since then I've had this notion in my head of me having a green leather jacket. In a certain model and a particular nuance. When I've happened to pass a second hand shop I've most always had a browse through the leather jackets. Until last weekend without any luck whatsoever. And I wasn't even going to look in the upper floor clothes section of the warehouse, I was strictly in to possibly finding some odd furniture pieces. I might add, at simply crazy low prices. This is what it looks like at the end station for the tear and wear mentality of instant gratification and shop til' you drop.

Anyhow. M lured me up to the upper floor and I just happened to walk by a mannequin dressed in quite ugly clothes, but for this. Leather. Jacket. In a particular. Green. Nuance. And strangely enough it happened to be in an ok size. At a silly price. And it really can't have been worn much. If at all. Made in Sweden too. Isn't this almost too weird to be true? Not that I complain. At all. I just happen to be a proud and happy owner of a certain green leather jacket. Which of course will go very well with a certain blue handbag. And possibly some red shoes. Or boots. Perhaps even purple.

We also looked through the furniture section, which had a whole lot of interesting pieces. And then we walked past a very red bureau. Nice model. Really nice nuance. Very well made. Not scuffed. But perhaps it would be a bit too *obvious* in that size and colour? Um. Better think about it and hope it'll still be there later.

Luckily it was. Since I just couldn't stop thinking about it. Instead of the (in)famous Panic Bags - you know the ones you frantically stuff with all the bits and pieces you don't want have lying around when guests are arriving and then cram in the closets... - I now have a very red, and very lovely bureau in my living room to fill with all those thingies.

My green jacket. My red bureau. With a red cat on top. Life can be good.

Castle Garden in Blue


Monday, January 28, 2008

Swedish Authors, part 1 (3)

This time it's going to be all about Swedish books, or more accurately three Swedish authors. Who will be graced with one blogpost each. *What an honour*

First out is one very insightful novelist who adeptly reads the human nature, and all its deviants, and translates that into stirring, compassionate, endearing, sad, harrowingly novels. About the little grey, odd, prosaic ones that exist all around - and sometimes inside - us. He is also one of Sweden's gay *icons* and by many loved comedian.

This was the eighth book by him, Jonas Gardell, I read. And in all its briefness, a mere 175 pages long, it was absolutely heartbreaking, chilling, skinless and impressively tensely written. Not a single word not carefully thought through.

The book, Jenny, is the third book in a series about the life of a boy, his friends and the school hazers around them, growing up in a Stockholm suburb in the 70ies. But this time the book concentrates on what happened to Jenny, the boy's friend back then, the last day in junior high school. The terrible, almost ungraspable, event that took place when all the wrong choices were made and noone took responsibility for their atrocious actions, or non-actions. And yet there is hope, a relentless will to live.

A mandatory book for everyone. And not only some, too many, parents that seemingly in a casual way frantically reproduce without any long-term planning of retransmitting ethics and moral concept to the offsprings. A book for all those rotten ones who do reprehensible things and then aren't even man/woman enough to admit to and take responsibility for them.

A novel to cry bitter tears over. A novel to get flipping mad over. A novel that makes you adamantly wanting go out and fight the good fight for all the little grey ones that barely make it through the day. A novel to read.

Tiny Tenant Dwelling


Sunday, January 27, 2008

Cauliflower Times Three

It's been a while since I last wrote about my kitchen concoctions. One might say that my inspiration and desire to try out new things kind of petered out after the Christmas happenings - when the things cooked and eaten came back to visit a bit too soon, so to write... Therefor the things I've cooked since Christmas have mostly been old, dependable things, maximum nutrition and flavour with minimum effort. If possible.


Yesterday I did try a new soup, from a simple recipe I found in the local newspaper. And it turned out absolutely delicious, creamy cauliflowersoup. And from the three cauliflower soup I've tried as lately I must say that the one I made myself was by far the best. Really. In other words, my gratitude to the local newspaper.

The other two soups were sampled first at that lovely little place in Gustavsberg - remember my marathon man? - that once went by the name Skafferiet i Hamnen (The Pantry in the Harbour) now called Café Tornhuset (Café Towerhouse) where they serve a really decent afternoon tea at certain hours. A place perfect for soothing any sore gum after seeing the dentist a k a the marathon man.
Anyhow. This time it was lunchsoup, or a sandwich, and I opted for the soup. Which happened to be cauliflower. Alas not a very good soup, strange watery consistency and a weird aftertaste. Which is plain silly since it is so easy to make a good soup, and one should think especially when you have a place that offers food...

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The second soup I only had a spoonful of - since that time I chose a sandwich for lunch, which turned out to be, if not the very smallest, at least one of the smallest sandwiches I've ever seen/had. A snack-for-a-not-very-hungry-seagull-size sandwich, and most certainly not something to satiate an ordinary hungry human lunchguest after a long walk. On the other hand, had I gone for the soup I most probably wouldn't have chose to have a cake too. And if I hadn't had that wonderfully flavoury, delicious pumpkin cake I would have been a much more sullen after lunch human Piaing... -

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and it was at the well-reputed restaurant Momumat at the Museum of Modern Art. The food is often inventive and very well-made, a bit pricey now and then, but mostly also quite tasty. Though a *slight* minus for all the coffee being made and "served" by a machine... Nasty naughty lapse in otherwise quality thinking. The espressobar at the museum's main entrance is said to serve decent coffee instead...

The cauliflower soup then, how was it? So-so, a bit too tangy in aftertaste, due to the apples included I gather, and to serve it with whipped curry cream was... well, a rather unpalatable thing to do. If you ask me. And of course you do.

Conclusion - cauliflower soup is best had at home. Local newspaper style. In this case a conclusion both underlined and with exclamation mark.

January in Sepia


Friday, January 25, 2008

The Crowning

Now and then I ponder about which views and motifs that are most common when promoting Stockholm. Or, for that matter, when you visit as a tourist. Where do you get the most Stockholmian view, the ultimate view that captures the essence of this fair city, where, where, where?

Well, since Stockholm (love) is all around us I don't think there's any obvious answer to that question. However, I think one can distinguish some sights, some angles when zooming in on a certain object of besottedness, that are more commonly occurring than others.

Like Riddarholmen (Knight's Islet) seen from the City Hall.

Or the view from Fjällgatan overlooking a whole lot of Stockholm.

And perhaps this one, the lovely gilded crown and the Royal Palace and parts of Old Town in the background. Ah for once I actually did get a bit of sunny weatherly benign cooperation when trying to capture a royal glimpse.

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Soaker Interrupted

For ages now, a friend and I have planned to go out for a soaker - and this is of course said with the uttermost irony since I'm rather far from inclined to alcoholic beverages, but a drink or two or so now and then in the right company is jolly. And *having a soaker* sounds so delightfully plebeian, and so very merry us. Kind of not.

Anyhow. Today we had finally reached a day which worked for both of us, but we then felt pretty worn, perhaps we should postpone it for next week... Somehow an early night with a good book sounded so much more appealing than the girly spring drink chatting and people watching.

Besides I had to get home and take care of my new little blue family member, my Stina Smitten, my handbag blue, who after a *slight* muddle finally reached her final destination at mi casa travelling all the way from Edinburgh - which of course proves that if not all, at least a whole lot of many fabulous things come from Scotland. She arrived safe and sound in a big brown box, have been inoculated (proofed), and will soon be introduced to her family of bags as well as her new home in Stockholm, Sweden.

Oh, I'm absolutely thrilled about my new blue friend, especially since she was most probably the very last one to be found, available and sold. To me. My special, precious, superduper Stina Smitten. And if she adjusts well to her new surroundings, she'll most probably want to join us for springdrinks next week. Yes, adamantly, spring does come early this year.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Colour Innocent

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You might remember that after having to rescue Elvira from the nasty lizards of Amsterdam, we we're offered the look of innocence? In the shape and flavour of smoothies - and a rather horrific thickie ie the yoghurt version, sorry, blah, never again - from Innocent.

I'm so happy they finally launched their drinks in Sweden last Autumn, now I'm looking forward to the big carton version to keep in the fridge plus some new flavours, please. Even though I think my favourite, the bright yellow mango & passionfruit one, is pretty darn difficult to beat...

Ever since I stumbled over these fruity smoothies in UK years back I've been completely smitten by them and their ingenious, sweet, cool, funky, witty whatever kind of message on the bottles as well as on their website. The whole business concept, the friendly do-good-in-the-community-thinking as well as global ethics. Me like. A lot. A whole lot of lot actually. Wouldn't mind a bit of a job at the Fruit Tower, as what I'm not completely sure of, but I can definitely be a spreader of office joy in the shape of great cakes, buns and cookies! And ok, a bit of snazzy writing with a legal twist, if so required.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Add a Dash of Milk

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Add a bit of milk to this and you get the best comfort in liquid form there is - and no I haven't, only, been watching to many British TV-series...

Monday, January 21, 2008

Almost Blue

For a number of reasons I - obviously - haven't felt very inclined to actual writing these past few days. And that's a rather ominous sign of that things aren't all that well in the world according to undersigned. I have absolutely no intentions in sharing any details as to why I'm feeling, well, blue. Let's just say that sometimes one less than pleasant thing gives another and that thing gives... And suddenly there seem to be a whole lot of things on the scale of unpleasantness to deal with.

And no it's not because I'm the great procrastinator, it's simply a case of getting a bad hand from life now and then. As usual all things are relative, and it could be so very much worse, but for me, right now, it's a bit too much of the blue thing. But what doesn't kill you makes you stronger - and that's a cliché I can truly endorse.

And I'm constantly aware of the fact that things have a tendency to work themselves out, that the look of life is once again auroral after a good night's sleep. That there is a long and exciting, promising and extended road forward. At least I still try and keep that good, comforting thought always close at hand when things get a bit too much. Come spring, come new beginnings. Come life.


Friday, January 18, 2008

A Necklace Left Behind

Today I got some sad news, someone I have had rather a brief contact with, had tragically and very sudden passed away a few months ago. The only reason I learnt about this is because his colleague was cleaning out his desk and found a necklace of mine he had bought as a thanks-for-a-job-well-done-gift to a former employee. A gift he had obviously never gotten around to giving. What is it with those details in life, those things that can either be so very endearing and lovely or just so completely sad and lonely. The things we leave behind.

Through a lifetime we usually meet an impressive amount of people, tie different kinds of knots, brief or more profound, everything, everyone a large, smaller or tiny part of the web called life. Some people we never really get to know, for various reasons, others we get to know a whole lot more, sometimes very much more than we'd like to perhaps. Some people we would like to get to know more, to metaphorically pick their brains, and often we think we have all the time in the world to finally do so. But in a wink of a moment that possibility is taken away. Once again we're reminded of how fragile life, plans and thoughts are.

I didn't know very much about this person, other than that he was a never seize to amaze veritable goldmine of information when it came to music, movies and television. That he was some kind of technical nerd with an inventor's mind. That his neighbour's cat used to wait for him outside his local grocery store, follow him home and saw him as the perfect new landlord and servant. That he played the guitar and taped his worn shoes together just because he couldn't be bothered with getting a new pair at the moment. That he had a sister living in the US and his parents a big, black semi-menace of a cat named Tristan. That he had a very dry, often bull's eye kind of humour.

And that he left a necklace behind.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Outfits That Do Fit

When in high school I was very into making my own clothes. Sewing - think Alaïa inspired jersey dresses and skirts, powersuits made out of old curtains (yes!), flower power or tartan trousers - knitting, crocheting. Oh I too did buy a bit of the "must-haves-fashion-brands" back then too, couldn't help but being a tiny bit influenced by the trends in that posh sort of high school.

But most of all I've always been a mix-n-match-kind-of-gal. I rummaged through both my dad's, mum's and my grandmother's closets for interesting clothes and accessories. Both for economical as well as personal reasons, I mean, can you think of anything more utterly boring than always buying a complete outfit kit at a high street store near you...? Which, imho, is pretty much the typical-Swedish-way when it comes to clothes and dressing (not the kind you sprinkle on your salad).

The H&M/Filippa K-syndrome I think someone once called it, named after the most prominent Swedish high street store and one Swedish clothes' designer. A designer that perhaps uses nice materials, and sometimes designs pieces I too find appealing, but in general makes very bland and unoriginal clothes. Clothes for people who just want to blend in, being one in the grey populace.

I think that benaming was bull's eye. Unfortunately Swedes in general seem to be *very* inclined to wearing clothes that *everyone else* is wearing, walking the streets of Stockholm there aren't many people dressing beyond the templates. Oh it doesn't matter if the pieces suit or flatter your body type or not, wear it anyway, blend in.

And if you reach a certain stage in life, especially for women, it's borderline capital punishment if you don't dress in a certain *required* uniform according to age. With slight variations depending on which circles and social class you "belong" to.

Needless to say I have never been, and most probably never will be, very interested in fitting into any templates. Clothes- or otherwise. I've gone through my fair share of different styles of clothes over the years, some very less than flattering in hindsight. I have bought way too much clothes over time - yes imagine I actually admit to that! I have cleaned out my closets on several occasions - and thereby hopefully made a whole lot of people happy on the other side of the world. Mustn't forget; and fueling the Swedish economy.

But I've matured - and not like old cheese, thank you very much - and I think I know now, what kind of clothes I both like and at the same time flatters me. That accentuate what's worth accentuating, and hopefully hides what's best left hidden. The kind of clothes that scream "buy me!" buy me!" when I walk by or step inside a certain shop. And mind you, very rarely a high street one...

There are clothes I'd very much like to wear, but I just know they don't fit my body type, I never bother looking at them, anymore. I simply shy away from those departments, those aisles. I've come to terms with that. And there really are so many gorgeous clothes out there that tempt me into trying them on, perhaps even investing a few crowns in them. Clothes that can actually lift my spirit on a particularly gloomy day. Clothes that make me happy. Comfortable garments that comfort. Outfits that fit.

And to round things off, I've said it before and I say it again, I think the Danish designers approach to fashion in general is the most appealing there is. The playfulness, the ingeniousness, the details, the materials, the colours, the celebration of individuality, that certain kind of oompf makes Copenhagen the outstanding best place for inspirational, fun and personal clothes and accessories shopping, all price classes.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A bit of Food in Amsterdam

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I haven't quite finished writing about that weekendish birthday trip to Amsterdam, apart from still having that third museum to attend to I've hardly written anything about the food. Food that says a lot about a country, about a place, about its people. And even if I wasn't completely charmed by the city of Amsterdam, I think the food, the variety richness, the ingeniousness, good, fresh ingredients overall was a pleasant surprise indeed. Especially since the food wasn't a thing people had really raved about when I said "Amsterdam"...

Unfortunately most of the food pictures turned out really lousy, so I just have to try and give an idea of how it looked, tasted and felt. The perfect little breakfast place I've already mentioned here. And if you dare to look past that rather touristy, shabby part of street after street of just restaurant upon restaurant near Leidseplein square - although admittedly we did have a great encounter with tapas at a Spanish restaurant there, and nice pasta at an Italian place that actually didn't make my tummy go all balloony afterwards, like it usually does - you can most certainly find little gems.

Like the vegetarian restaurant De Waaghals (The Daredevil) we went to on my birthday. A rather small and crowded place, with a creative, cool, mostly organic menu and friendly staff - although rather absentminded... I'm not sure what I ate actually, they change most of their menu every month, but it was a plate of different small courses and really lovely.

Slight minus for not having a decent substitute for some interesting organic cider which was on the menu but had been sent back to the brewery for some unclear reason. And a huge minus for the rather disgusting, and disappointing, dessert of Waaghals Banana Pie. Which consisted of a very dry pie shell, sliced, not very ripe bananas and covered in a huge dottle of whipped cream. Not to mention that weird non-caffeine *substitute* for coffee called... well, something that has completely slipped my mind. But it tasted like hot water with a pinch of cinnamon plus froth on top. Far from the perfect round off to a meal, but still overall a pleasant, and different, vegetarian experience.

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And no, this wasn't a very nice creme brulee either - at Marriott Hotel, Amsterdam, with a perfect view overlooking the busy street and pedestrians, nothing whatsoever like that sinful one I had last summer - but it made a rather perfect ending to this food post.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Not A Strawberry Girl

When I contemplate personal problems I try, when possible, think of things, situations I at least don't have to deal with. The things-could-be-worse-scenario. Both for my own sanity's sake as well as getting a true perspective on life. Especially when it comes to those oh so important, oh so superficial, I-country problems. Here are some vital examples -

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I don't have to walk miles and miles to reach water. Muddy water at that. My water comes from a tap, close by, both hot and cold. And even if my water heater leaves *a bit* more to be desired, at least I have my own shower, my own bathtub and I don't have to share with an impressive amount of big boned, dirty relatives.

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I can prepare and eat pretty much what food I like in the vegetarian realm of things, I don't have to wait for leftovers and crumbs from the table of the more fortunate.


My size, height and intellect allow me to open my own doors, climb over most obstacles, do my own deeds not having to be overly dependent and clinging. Although I very much see the virtues of friendship and loving family ties. We all need a helping hand now and then.

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Most of all though, I'm very grateful for not being a strawberry girl with stick legs who wants to travel the world, see and do things from another point of view, but being stuck with living the limited life of a bookshelf inhabitant with a constant look of surprise on her face; Was this all there was to life?

Monday, January 14, 2008

Knitta Has Come To Town

Perhaps you remember the caring city by the water from last summer? I think it was then I saw the first sign of Knitta coming to Stockholm town. Since then I've stumbled over little Knitta projects here and there, and they always leave me with a smile and the thoughts of me too joining the ongoing project of wrapping and taking knitted care of the details around us. So far just a thought, but such a nice one it is!

The latest Knitta discovery was this colorful, artsy wrapping in celebration of a loved mother (mamma). Which is actually a crocheted piece, but who cares, it's still a caring, lovely, handmade detail.

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It seems like that particular part of town is very fond of their mothers, just look at this luminescent loveliness of a pink bench just for mummy! Just the thing to brighten up any bleak, damp January day. I'm now contemplating getting one of my own, in the garden. Such an eyecatching moodlifter. Perhaps if I'm really good, the hairy herd will bring me one for next birthday?


The text "Jag ska måla hela världen lilla mamma" translates to "I'll paint the whole world, little mummy" and that's also the name of a well-known Scandinavian hit from the 70ies, sung by a Norweigan childstar.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Stockholm A Month Later

I thought I'd give you a photographic update on how the sun also rises and sets on these Nordic latitudes, how it changes ever so slightly every single day and sometimes the changes seem so very sudden, due to overcast one day and clear skies the next.

However, Flickr is apparently having a massage it seems and the accessibility to photos that way is *sort of* limited at the moment. So this post will have to do with words only. Or, wait, I think that massage is actually finished, phew, that saved me from coming up with something clever and witty. Once again, saved by some pictures.


So. Perhaps you remember this place, mid December, just around 3 o'clock in the afternoon? This is what it looked like today, almost exactly a month later. Quite obviously we're heading toward a brighter future. De-lovely. In many ways.



If you're hungry and want to keep this gorgeous view in sight when inside, I suggest you head over to Herman's. A vegetarian restaurant, if my memory serves me right the very first proper vegetarian one in Stockholm, where you can either enjoy their buffet - a bit expensive and uneven in quality, although when good, very, very good... - or just some coffee and cake. Unpretentious place with outdoor area in the summers too.

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Saturday, January 12, 2008

And Now Some De-lurking...

Last year I completely missed the De-lurking Day - even if I did managed to de-lurk myself here and there in the blogosphere - however now it's apparently a whole week of de-lurking, so I thought I'd at least hop on the last trolleys of the de-lurking wagon. I have no illusions of this blogworld of undersigned being swamped by comments just because I ask nicely in the most delighful of ways.

And honestly I'm not sure the grumpy ol' one all dressed in the Last Endeavour will do the trick either. But well, what the heck, I'll give it a try -

Happy continued de-lurking week!
And remember, a *measly* "hallo" will do just fine...
And if you're feeling adventurous, why not reveal your dream travel destination...?

Of Hairy Loaves & Lenten Buns

When out walking the hairy loaf in a leash today I got this special feeling that very much reminded me of something I managed to capture in writing a couple of years ago. The difference is that it was cold, dark and lots of snow back then - now it's just clammy and dark. I thought I might republish that little episode again, but when I looked through all those pages of this and that I couldn't find that particular one. And the ones I did find didn't exactly fill me with pride. Being a *slight* case of too pretentious in a nerdy over elaborated way. But, I suppose that was just something I had to get out of the system back then.

So this entry will, as usual, be in the Anglia lingua. And no I won't even try to capture that feeling, those thoughts, I had while walking the doggie, in English. Instead I will just admit that today I did something that might actually be consider something like a slight dash of mortal sin - eating this year's first semla (Lenten bun) before Fat Tuesday... Since I am a weak-minded goose I of course completely blame this lapse from the narrow path on the company of not so strong-principled ones I keep. Although it was a rather palatable lapse...

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As I wrote last year every year it's the same procedure as the year before; the newspapers have different lists and choices as to where you'll find "the best semla". And for many years now Bakery Bananza has, if not always won, but at least been on the top five-list in almost every noteworthy paper in Stockholm - yes, this is obviously a really very important issue! - and they even get orders from the US. Can't help but wonder how the buns will look and taste when they finally get there though...

It's far from the cosiest bakery/café, but they do make great bread, at nice prices, and it is rather a perfect place to either start off a weekend walk in the city or have a well-deserved rest afterwards. Especially on a bleak January day like today. A day which made me consider this lapse of semla to be very condign indeed.


Friday, January 11, 2008

Special Topics In Calamity Physics

When a new year begins I like to also begin reading a new book - ok I knooow I already have um, quite a few on my currently reading list, but well, I've *almost* finished two of them already so that makes room for a new one I think... And I very much want that first-book-of-the-year to be a special one. A novel that hopefully sets the standard of the book-year-of-undersigned.

So, the first novel of 2008 is a book I've kind of glanced at since last summer, mainly because of it's "very-Pia" cover, actually - Special Topics In Calamity Physics. And sometimes you can very much judge a book by its cover, I mean I have stumbled over books I've never heard of and got them just because their amazing covers and had a fabulous time reading them. So in this case I'm just fine with being so superficial.

And, well, even if I've just read about 50 pages of 670 I'm simply mesmerized. It's for sure not a book you can, or should, read casually or absentmindedly. Not a book for killing time - but what kind of book nerd wants that? - and it surely keeps you quite alert. In fact it demands your full attention form page one - and with its required reading-list you realize you are but a mere pleb when it comes to literature and reading. Kind of. From this book's central figure's point of view at least.

From that list I've read about a third since junior high, and I can't say I remember all that much from any of them... I let it be unsaid if that depends on the literary qualities of the books or my phase in life when reading them... Or perhaps they just weren't my cup of word(l)y tea.

This piece of überintellectual witty book nerdiness has just been translated into Swedish. However I chose to read it in English, since I usually think it's the perfect way to expand one's literary horizons and perhaps also the vocabulary. Besides, some wittiness and oomf often get lost in translation - though in the case of this book the Swedish title sounds, to me, exceedingly more interesting for some odd reason. Odd since it basically is a word-for-word translation... Parts of the American-English language wittiness in the novel is most probably just bypassed me, but I think that for all that's not it'll be well worth the read of this aspiring brick-novel. I hope I'm able to stand by these words when reading the last sentence on page 670...

I will return with a proper review á la me when I've read the whole book - for now I'll just refer to the book's/author's very Harry Potterish website and leave you with an interesting calamity- physics-question to ponder; what kind of Jane are you?

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

A Day of Pale Winter Sun

When you get gloomy and grumpy enough due to the lack of sun, you - read I - don't really demand much to get very pleased and *almost* cheerful again. Like a very pale, almost invisible winter sun that more than untangle the drab knot of slight despair embedded inside. And somehow, with such a mood lifter also comes small details here and there that, yet again, makes for rather a perfect day.

The details in themselves are probably not very interesting for anyone but me, let's just say that sometimes I'm a mite amazed by how well things have a tendency to work themselves out with much less effort from undersigned than expected. The coincidences - or not - is simply stunning. I suppose these easy breezy details, episodes, days may spring now and then, and perhaps when we least expect them, just so we can cope with all those moments, encounters, days of our lives that are far from sunlit.

The pale winter sun of today was just like the one in a watercolour I once painted. It's probably difficult to believe if one could see my scarce doodle of today, but in junior high school I adamantly studied art. Not a very skilled artist with the brush and paint though, and I think this watercolour is probably the only thing still worth looking at. And well, the only detail really quite good in the painting is the pale sun. Rising over a misty field. And I'm certain the elves are hiding in the background forest waiting to dance in that misty field.

Yes, that pale sun we saw glimpses of today made even the grim, dreary, grey railroad- and industrial area when approaching the city by train, look quite tempting and enchanting. And if you've seen those areas, you know that is a *very nearly* impossible and therefore a major achievement - so thank you pale winter sun!

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The Jane Austen Book Club

When I mention the name Jane Austen, or perhaps Brontë, and movies in the same sentence, it, for some odd reasons, never strikes a pleasurable cord in M - "once and never again! Completely foreseeable and boringly wimpish, not a movie for men. Go see with someone else."

Which just isn't true, of course, if you're a guy in touch with the inner you, then it's most certainly a movie for men too. Not only feminine, or masculine, but human. Admittedly, they can be *slightly* predictable, and yes goosy, silly and wimpish and... quite lovely. I far from like every screen adaption, and my favourite is - naturalmente - the classic TV-series "Pride & Prejudice" and yes, "Sense & Sensibility" and Alan Rickman isn't half bad either...

But this movie "The Jane Austen Book Club" isn't an adaption of an Austen novel, of course, but about - surprise - a book club that revolves around Austen's six novels and the life and relationships of the book club members. Brilliantly played in a very non-Hollywood way - i e wibbly wobbly parts, wrinkles and seemingly very little makeup - by well known quality actors, as opposed to overused and rubbed in *moviestars*. Ok, a few of them could definitely use a little less of the facial bronzing gel, but other than that I really liked every little down-to-earth-surface-detail of this movie, incl a whole lot of great outfits...

And human interaction, emotions, relationships, what we say, and don't say, and what we do, and don't, never seize to intrigue, fascinate and sometimes amaze, most of us. I even had a moment of self-revelation from this movie, perhaps in a less than flattering way. But as usual, food for thought is never ever a bad thing...

I had absolutely no expectations when I went to see it, I hadn't even heard of the plot beforehand - but to me "book club" and perhaps "Jane Austen" always strike a certain cord... - only looking forward to a few hours of entertainment on a rainy afternoon and nothing more. And I was just so pleasantly surprised, the movie sort of reminds me of Love Actually, though a more intellectual version, without the Christmas aspect to it, and alas, the British accent. Definitely more than a few hours of entertainment, food for thought in a pleasantly accessible movie-costume. Go see!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

A Little Piece of Jewellery Heaven

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I promised to write a bit more about this purple ring I mentioned before. Or rather the brand, which is a Swedish one, namely Yvone Christa. It's quite a few years since I first discovered their jewellery and I think it was in a magazine. And if you can use the words fall in love at first sight with a piece of jewellery or design... - and I'm not really sure I think it's the right choice of word for it, but what the heck, I adore the design and most of the pieces! The silver pieces that is, I'm no fan of gold jewellery, with it's delicate, intricate filigree art work, with an antique finish, and most often with one or more pieces of precious stones and pearls. Simply gorgeous they are!

The two women behind the design first opened up a shop in New York in 1999, where their studio is also located, and in 2000 the shop in Stockholm was opened. For some years a really tiny hole-in-the-wall-kind of shop, though a delightful hole-in-the-wall. Last year they moved next door and now it's more smallish than tiny - and all pink inside! A candy-store for grown ups, since you get all yearningly starry-eyed when you walk past the window and even more so if you dare to step inside...

The prices prevent you from investing there too often I suppose, but when and if, ah, this is jewellery heaven! And they make a darn cute wrapping too, very Love-Actually-style. And such a perfect place to wish for a gift from...

They used to have a decent website some years ago, alas now they don't, just something "under construction" which I think is more than slightly silly for a bunch reasons - but maybe that'll change, so here's the website address

The shops you'll find at Mäster Samuelsgatan 2, Stockholm and 107 Mercer Street, N.Y.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Once There Was Blue Skies

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Today is the kind of day you really have to remind yourself there is such a thing as a blue sky above - and not just a depressing shade of gloomy grey, that has completely embedded the whole city with outskirts.

I saved these summery pictures for a day like this, a rainy day that wiped almost all the lovely newly fallen snow away. And since this kind of weather also dampens the word(l)y inspiration in me, I only have a few more words to write for now - pretty, crispy, fluffy, white please, come back and stay. And if you'd be so kind as to take the sun with you, I'll love you even more.

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Sunday, January 06, 2008

WCB #135 - Living In A Box


The big, fluffy, soft, orange loveliness of a kitty Christmas present this past Christmas obviously didn't fell on good cat ground in general. But what did was the tangerine box, and as we all know, the smaller the better when it comes to cats and boxes.

The white snowflake fluff of a kitten Wilbur above liked roaming around in it, but not as much as to feeling inclined to move out and into a box. Very warm feelings for the box was showed by my sweetie Eulalia though. She adored the box and was very eager to move into it. Just look at that adamant-to-change-living-quarters-face of my creamy delight of a sweetheart, what's not to love?


So, once again, a proof of the fact that the best presents, and things in life, are the seemingly simplest and often free ones.

This weekend's catblogging is hosted by Katie & Puddy, why don't you swing by for some catnip treats!

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Chocolate Treats

When it comes to sweets I don't think there's anything that can remotely beat a nice piece of chocolate, or a well-composed chocolate dessert. The perfect amount - that is not too little, not too much - of chocolate most always gives perspective to problems that needs to be solved and can soothe, at least momentarily, a broken heart.

In fact, I'd even go as far as to say chocolate might be the ultimate solution to many of the world's problems in this day and age, chocolate, the great mediator and mender. Chocolate is wellness for the soul. Chocolate makes you happy. Chocolate makes you kind, peaceful and harmonious. The right amount that is. Not too little, and not too much. Just the perfect piece of it.

Here are three different kinds that have demanded my attention this past month -

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Chocolate truffle cake on brownie, Chokladfabriken (the Chocolate Factory). Pretty nice, nothing spectacular, just - chocolate to be shared. Spectacular though, as usual, is their hot cocoa. The best I've had ever, and I suspect ever will have. I stay happy for days and days after having one of those. Kind of. And you can chose from white, light or dark chocolate plus whipped cream or marshmallow, have it your very own way.

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Chocolate truffle, Puss & Kram (Kiss & Hug). This was a lovely wee one, perfect in size, consistency and flavour. And so pretty.

Cointreau chocolate ball, Chokladfabriken - the Friday night treat, and such a treat it was. Simply heavenly. The kind of treat that somehow feels very wicked and makes you feel guilty for no obvious reason. Divine.

Friday, January 04, 2008

2007 - A Picture Per Month

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JANUARY - this was Stockholm in winter shroud a year ago. How time flies... And how similar the weather was then compared to this now moment in time. But above all, as pretty then as it is now
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FEBRUARY - was the month of one of my most amazing experience ever, so far, the South African one. On the beach in Kenton on Sea - bliss! And yes, one of these days I will continue writing about the days in Cape Town too...

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MARCH - I discovered the joys of Kusmi tea - and it was comforting in troublesome times...

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APRIL - pink cherry blossoms in Kungsträdgården, that makes my heart go all ditty! And now it's only three months away...

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MAY - the darling buds of May gave me one of many perfect moments in the year 2007. This was at the gardens of Svindersvik

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JUNE - I befriended my favourite cookbook, and the culinary delights from that has since brought countless tears of savoury joy into the eyes of dinner guests at my humble casa

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JULY - in the rain I met a strawberry little, and I have been wondering ever since, what happened to that little one after I left...

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AUGUST - was in so many more or less describable ways a perfect month, but if I have to chose one picture - and I do - it'll be of beautiful Scanian windmills

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SEPTEMBER - showed such a lovely side, and made for ample excursions in and around Stockholm. Simply a perfect ending to an amazing summer!

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OCTOBER - gets two pictures, since it was the month of major compact living as well as my birthday trip to Amsterdam

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NOVEMBER - there was just a whole lot of cats and mittens going on

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DECEMBER - was a month of endings, new beginnings and spreading of Christmas joy

The events pictured in these photos are by no means the most important ones through my year 2007 - they're just a picture, a symbol, from January to December. If you happen to actually be interested in excerpts and words from my 2007-life, I suggest you have a look in the archives.
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