Thursday, February 28, 2008

One Perfect Moment

And just because today's such a special day, I'll throw in a bonus picture, of one adorable furball enjoying one perfect moment in the pale springish sun, overlooking the woods and the lake in the neighbourhood vicinity.

The 20000 Club

Today's the day the official blog visitor counter turned 20000 - in reality maybe a bit more or less - in the big picture it's probably small potatoes, but still sort of neat... Ah sometimes I'm just so easy to please.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

When the Last Endeavour Did the Trick

Lilacs in my garden

Remember the mind at work? Possibly also the post-interview thoughts - now we've come to chapter (post) three on this particular subject. I hope I can see this as three really very much is a charm, since... yes, I got accepted to the course. So congrats to me (I hope, think?)!

Obviously I did something right at the aforementioned interview, despite lack of sleep, feeling a bit queasy that day, not to mention my flagrant choice of something purple to wear. Well, perhaps that latter choice was actually the metaphorical cherry on the proverbial sundae? Maybe I should even show some well-deserved gratitude towards purple? Possibly even wear that same outfit upcoming Monday, the first day of course (change)?

Although being seen in the same outfit twice in a row, in the same circle of things, isn't that something of a gross misconduct in the outfit realm of life? Mm, better safe than sorry, if I once again choose to go purple it has to be another shady shape of it.

Another highly important question, first day of *school*, is of course which handbag is to accompany me and my possibly shade of purple. Size matters, which excludes some of them, and leaves the race open for Blända (oak/brownish), Tindra (olivegreen), Elvira (orange) or Stina Smitten (blue). Will have to ponder a bit over that. Don't you just love using your little grey ones for such important, life changing matters? This surely must be what makes our world turn around. The choice of handbag du jour.

There will be about 25 of us slightly mature students, from all sorts of academic backgrounds I gather. None than me with a legal one as far as I know, though a few with a stray legal course baggage - which can be rather amusing since there rarely is something as completely confident know-it-all as a person who has done a couple of casual law courses... When I mention this to M, his reply was "well, what's wrong with that, you think you know better, even best than know-it-alls most all the time" - I have absolutely no idea what he meant by that. I guess it was a feeble attempt on wittiness of some sort.

The course will range over a period of about seven months - goodbye summer of 2008 - out of which a third will be out and about as a trainee. It all looks very well on paper, I kind of liked the information-meeting, the teacher seems like a very pleasant guy, there are some really nifty sections of the course I'm so looking forward to dig into, others that I'm not all that keen on. I know it'll be quite mind boggling at first, but I also think it's going to be just great to actually be doing something which hopefully in the end will finally lead to something new and exciting.

To tell the truth I feel sort of as effervescent as I did when I began first grade. Or at least I like to think I was all that drolly as a six year old (back in the stone ages that was), since I thought school was basically a great place to be and do.

Though now, as an all matured and better-than-know-it-all Pia, the most exciting thing with returning to the school bench is quite possibly the prospect of choosing the tip-top purple shaded outfit and a matching perfect handbag for the very first day at the desk. Brand new legal pad, pencils sharpened, brain at work, here I come.

Mrs & Mr Duck

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Mrs Duck wants to continue sleeping yet for another while, Mr Duck seems however more eager to discover the new springtime world of things - *quack*

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Of Sheepish Crime & Special Calamity

So there, I've finished reading that special book, the *first* book of the year now, and oh me oh my was it a fantastic read, I just loved it!! Every. Single. Page. "Special Topics In Calamity Physics" by Marisha Pessl is officially on my favourite-books list now - although, admittedly, I found the ending rather shortened and anticlimactic, a whole bunch of questions unanswered. I suppose the "Final Exam" part was a way to handle those unanswered issues, and although gimmicky, perhaps not really what I'd have liked as a perfect finishing touch to what must be concidered a tremendously arduous labour of love for words and writing.

If you don't love words, expressions, wordplays, puns and literature you won't enjoy this book. At all. Since it's absolutely brilliantly brimming with those. I found myself again and again smiling as well as somewhat silently giggling while reading it on the train, sometimes even laughing (very silently indeed). All the wordly nerdiness, the constant references to books and treatises, the witty parables, not to mention the naming of the chapters after books (and movies) - of course I especially adored just that... And oh, those delightful visual aids.

If I *had to* resemble it to another book I could say it somewhat reminds me of Donna Tartt's lovely book "The Secret History", though more than a cut above in ingeniousness.

And even if I, as I wrote above, didn't fully embrace the ending, at least it definitely lingers on, and has me thinking, pondering, broodering over what really happen, what was the reason for Film Studies teacher Hannah Schneider's death? And is Blue really prepared to take on, by her very self, the world after her high school graduation? Did she really kiss like a tuna? What happened to the remains of all the poor pinned butterflies? And what about... The list of minor as well as major questions unanswered by the time one reaches page 668 seems slightly endless. Ah, perhaps that actually is a part of the unquestionable charm of this simply irresistable, enchanting love of a book.

I'll round this review off with a far from equally good book, in fact a book I read great reviews on last summer, had to have, but which never really caught me. After a seemingly endless time of trying to get past page 80 - imagine I actually forced myself to get that far into the book... - I decided enough was enough. I don't like this book, it's not very well written, in fact it's rather boring, a pity since the plot-inventiveness is really fresh; sheep flock solving a murder.

But if it might be difficult to distinguish 19 different human characters, imagine to tell 19 sheep apart... 19 sheep that the author frankly hasn't done a very good job in giving distinct personalities or features to. I was constantly annoyed for having to return to the cast of characters since I just couldn't distinguish one sheep from another. Thus the murder of the shepherd and its solving by sheep became unengaging and secondary.

The book I highly not-recommend to read is the debute novel "Glennkill - Ein Schafskrimi" (English translation being "Three Bags Full") by German Leoni Swann.

Since *Calamity* also is a first novel, the authors are both females and of the same age, I can't help but thinking that these books are not only written geographically a world apart, but very much apart on so many levels...

Monday, February 25, 2008

Officially Spring

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Yes, now it's official, Spring has come to many parts of Sweden, including the Stockholm area! Officially as it's after February 15th and the average temperature for a day and night is above +/-0 C during a period of at least seven days. About a month earlier than usual - ominous...? - nevertheless,

Welcome coltsfeet!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Cruelty in Wool

I just couldn't watch the whole Swedish documentary about the completely vile, repulsive act of atrocious cruelty toward sheep in the (merino) wool industry. The practise of so called mulesing in mainly the Australian sheep industry. The pictures, and the absolutely heartbreaking screams of those poor lambs being scalped...

It makes me so unbelievably mad, I've had an angry despair-knot in my stomach all evening, I've cried and have been on the verge of crying ever since I catched those glimpses of this savage abuse. Ah, who cares if the human race extinguish themselves, good riddance for planet earth.

And those guys who have the audacity to claim innocence, who play all injured and wronged... P l e a s e, if you can find it in your vile heartless human heart to do it, then you should at least be *human* enough skip the whitewash and admit to your own actions!!

Why not simply admit that you just don't care about all the pain and suffering you're willfully causing innocent and helpless animals, that their life and suffering just is a part of you making money. I mean, it's not like you're alone in the world being a brutal barbar, there are plenty of you heartless abject bastards around. All you sad excuses for decent human beings, that put yourselves above the rest of nature's creatures. Oh there are a plethora (unfortunately) of you that can comfort you and pat your back when poor you are so completely misunderstood by the rest of us who actually do have a conscience, who care about something else than our own measly monetary profit.

Being a consumer it's so easy to live under the illusion that whenever you buy something that's made in nature materials it's also something very natural, made with thought and care for animals and the environment. Really, very different from those horrible synthetics, that feels absolutely nasty against your skin, makes the clothes all burled and your hair all wired.

And then you suddenly read something here, see something there that makes you realize that just because it's called nature materials that doesn't mean it's so very eco and animal friendly. That you have to look even further when you're buying clothes and accessories, that you have to be *quite* active in your pre-store-clothes/brands research if you want to continue to claim being a human with a conscience.

I didn't think I had any garments made of merino wool, turned out I was wrong. I did get something at the post-Christmas sales that states 100% merino wool. And now I feel *slightly* queazy about that. Me being a, however tiny, part of this reprehensible industry. Ah, it's so very easy to think of oneself being a bit better, a bit - or more - superior than the average sheeple, but I guess, sometimes you're simply a sheep like everyone else.

At the Gate

No 14A is quite the captivating gate

Friday, February 22, 2008

Having A Name Of A Day

Today's my very own name day, according to the Swedish calender, February 22nd. At least the one of my names that begins with a "P" and ends with an "a" - and any excuse to celebrate being alive and kicking, here and now, having a name, being me is a good excuse to treat oneself to something extra.

Even if the extra of today wasn't anything very obviously extraordinary and remarkably grand, it was quite a delightful day; the sun was shining, it was definitely spring in the air - never mind a bit too much of that air in shape of relentless winds -, a nice breakfast coffee date with a friend, some browsing through shops - yup, imagine I can actually do that without feeling a need to fuel the economy - and a long walk. I even had the (dubious) pleasure of nearly being roped in and exchanged for some cattle in some remote place on the African continent. Imagine that. Or rather not.

Even if everyday is concidered a Pia-day, in my world, it is kind of pleasant to be officially acknowledged by Regnum Sueciae at least once - in my case even twice - a year. And sometimes even I am easy to please, a spot of sun, a dash of spring, a perfect day.


Thursday, February 21, 2008

Post-Interview Thoughts

I know, it's just plain silly to contemplate the what-ifs, should-have-said or not-said post a job interview, I went with my gut feeling, I was me, I have the papers to prove it and that's that. Being you, trying to steer pass any question-shallows, still you never ever know what the person/s sitting in front of you asking those well-thought-through - or, honestly, more often than seldom very less than well-thought-through... - questions, actually thinks or think they've grasped about you and your ability and skills.

But still, when you - from your point of outstanding clarity and insightfullness - think (know!) you've given such a perfect answer - filled with both wisdom, personal knowledge, taking a firm standpoint still hinting a touch of flexibility, and perhaps a dash of wittiness - to a rather dense question... Ah, that afterward feeling should, without a questionmark in sight, be relished.

So, what are my feelings on this morning's interview? I was apparently the only lawyer seeking new challenges - I'm not sure that's a good or bad thing from their point of view, since I completely lack the experience working within this field. However I do have a lot of "free" legal knowledge as well as personal qualities and skills that would most probably be a great advantage in this line of work.

Perhaps they think that I already have my degree and work experiences, I don't come off as desperate - no my life most certainly won't be over if I don't get to attend this course - I should be able to find a job within my realm. But I haven't. And the Swedish labour-market legislation leaves a whole darn lot to be desired, it's rigid, it's trapping, it's gloomy. Not to mention, frankly, wasting a whole lot of taxpayer's money...

When I was finally back on track looking for a job again I, with my background, thought it would be so easy peasy to get one. The ultimate job, at last a newish line of work, doing what I love and do best. Little did I know, the only piece of cake around here is the one you find at a cosy Stockholmian café or possibly being made in the oven of undersigned. Other than that, stick to what your degree says and stop wasting our time with futile applications. Would it hurt you to have a look at my portfolio, to have a chat...?

Back to today's interview, when I, answering the question of what I do in my spare time, began enumerating a few (yes I actually scaled them down) of my interests they were *slightly* taken aback and wondered how I managed to fit all that in. Well, really, while looking for a job that actually pays, I have to fill the rest of my days with things I love to do. Sure I have those days I don't do much but shuffle around the house, but I'm not much of a TV-soap-beer-drinking-scratching-my-rotund-belly-in-the-sofa-kind-of-person, I prefer to at least try and expand my horizons, amplify my intellect, enhance my skills with the spare time I actually have.

Sure, there are a whole lot of things I just can't do at this moment in life, my situation being what it is, but there are also such a plethora of things I can do instead. I think I'm blessed in that way. I don't think I would be able to fully appreciate all those details around us, which I starryeyed frequently promote, if I wasn't in the position I am in now. So I try, when the things I can't do don't get too overwhelming, to think of this as something truly, in the end, positive. With curiousness, a monthly season ticket for the public transportation system, a camera and a few bucks, there's a whole lot to be experienced and conquered out there!

And you know the highly important what-to-wear-to-this-interview-part, rather a waste of pondering-time I'd say. The interviewers probably couldn't care less by the way they dressed themselves... But I did go with a purple tenfold cardigan, and not that skyblue velvet jacket, ah maybe that should have been three's-a-charm, maybe that choice of cardigan was the one thing that totally blew my chances for a course change... Oh, the choices we make.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Haunted Castle


Well, to be honest I have no idea if this place - yes it's called a castle, even if it's basically a large villa, namely Ljunglöfska Slottet (The palace of Ljunglöf). Situated slightly offside in one of the north-western suburbs of Stockholm, nowadays conference facilities and available for privatue functions, it was originally built around 1893 by the Swedish snuff-king Knut Ljunglöf -

is haunted. But nevertheless it gives me a very eerie feeling. Pretty, but completely spooky. Especially when desolate, in black-white and snow falling. However, I'm not sure colour makes it any more homely and inviting...


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Unknown Stockholm City Hall


The Chinese photographer Yanan Li spent a year documenting Stockholm's beautiful City Hall, from tiny details to grand views, from lurid to black-white. The photoproject also resulted in a book called The Unknown City Hall of Stockholm


At the moment there's a lovely little photo-exhibition on at the City Hall, with some of Li's pictures. Quite a few gorgeous ones. And very inspirational too. The photos are soon to leave Stockholm and head out on a worldwide travelling exhibition, on which some of the stops will be Washington, Brussels and Beijing. If you have the chance to see it, catch a glimpse of Stockholm - and a waft of the Nobel Prize festivities - please do. Entrance fee to the exhibition in the City Hall is 20 sek.





Mind At Work

I had planned to write something about how curiousity most certainly didn't kill the cat - at least not when it possessed a healthy amount of self-preservation - but I'll save that for a later day. Instead I'll muse a bit about the fact that I have an interview coming up later this week. Alas, or perhaps not, just for a course that will maybe get me, quite literally, a course change into a newish line of work.

At first, and maybe a bit still, I thought it sounded rather ridiculous that you have to go through all sorts of strange application procedures for a simple course. But on the other hand it is a pretty extensive, intensive, probably expensive (and by the looks of it, hopefully advanced) kind of course. And I'm not paying. So, well, even if I, for me, personally think all this pre-course hullabaloo is a teensy-weensy bit over the top, I suppose it might be justifiable. Of sorts.

Now to the silly part, what to wear. Ah, now we've reached the most important part of the musing. Never mind what to say as far as the interview goes, being oneself gets you a long way, but what to wear, yeah, that's the real braintwister. Or - since that's never a real problem either, figuring out the *right* outfit for that particular interview, meeting, date, party, whatever - I like to think of the pre-interview-rummaging-through-closets more of a rather amusing way to pass some time and let the real issues of life relax in a sunchair, sip a tropical drink, watch the clouds sweep along the blue, blue sky and listen to the waves ripple.

So. Since it is rather uncomfortable to get some of the "chunkier" jackets under the outer garments this time of year, that will narrow the upper part alternatives down. I'm not interested in looking too somber and/or lawyeristic (ha, like that would ever be the case), even fewer alternatives then. Um, I have quite a few jackets - too many some would probably say - but nowadays I am more of a cardigan gal, so should I opt for one lovely skyblue velvet jacket and think *three times a charm* or should I concider one nearly as peachy cardigan?

Perhaps that delightful dotty silk dress that always make me think of Tant Brun (Aunty Brown) or hoots, Rappin' Granny? Well, perhaps not...

Lower part, a suitable skirt of some kind. That will work itself out. Shoes, boots, what will say professional with a twist best; purple, black, red, beige, green, brown, double-dyed. Mm, this is how a highly-developed female mind works at times. The significant life issues very much like to have their tropical day in the sun on a regular basis.

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*Mind at work*

Sunday, February 17, 2008

A Dash of Spring


Looks like Spring is more eager than ever to come out and play - we enjoyed a gorgeous day here in Stockholm today, mid February. The beautiful building in the background is Karlberg Palace - I mean, what's a weekend without a castle capture? - built in 1630 and today alas a military academy.

I've heard rumours of tomorrow being even more Springlike, perhaps a most suitable day for the green leather jacket inauguration Pia-way...? Um, will have to think about that, I'm so easily frozen, wouldn't want to take out Spring in advance. And well, I just don't look this good in blue tones ~


The Northern Cemetery


Certainly no Woodland Cemetery, but in parts absolutely beautiful and very impressive in its very own way - the Northern Cemetery. Situated, perhaps as an always present reminder of our mortality, just below one of Stockholm's major hospitals, Karolinska University Hospital.


The cemetery was inaugurated in the beginning of the 19th century, and there are quite a few wellknown Swedes been laid to the last rest there. To name but a few; lovely actress Ingrid Bergman, film director Victor Sjöström and Alfred Nobel, the founder of the Nobel Prize.


The cemetery is also situated just beside one of Stockholm's major approaching highways as well as being seen from the c-train when approaching the city. Oh, I've been meaning to visit the place for many years, but as often is the case one has a tendency to postpone visiting, doing all sorts of things that are fairly easy accessible. Seeing, talking to people that will always be around. But of course there's no such thing as always in this frail existence called life...


But then, finally I did have the opportunity to wander around this vast stretching graveyard the other week. It was a crisp winter day with a faint sun, and yet it felt like spring with all the tiny birds happily chirping of a brighter season to come. It was such a lovely walk, with time for both memories, contemplating life and death. Discovering withered beauty everywhere, as well as *rather* distasteful signs of pompous and quite misplaced superiority feelings.


Exploring a place of unusal monuments, sculptures, tombs as well as more than eerie places of morning. And in midst of all this, suddenly four shy deers ran over the path just a few metres in front of us, disappearing just as fleetingly as they had appeared. Alas I was too slow with the camera, only got a very blurry capture of that magical encounter in what is actually somewhat in the middle of quite a busy city.


Dispiriting though, was the fact that some of the newer parts of the cemetery showed appalling signs of anything but the pleasingly aesthetic and special ambiance that most parts of the cemetery have. Such a pity, and where's the Beauty Council when Stockholm is in dire need of it...?

Other than that, it's a place well worth a visit for many reasons, and I've also heard of guided tours which I'm definitely going to take one of these days. Since there isn't such a thing as always, I'm planning for it in not such a far future...


Thursday, February 14, 2008

When Tomorrow Comes

The ones who are extremly fond of cleaning and sticklers for a spick-and-span home should stop reading. Right now. Ignorance is bliss and so forth.

The ones who think it's better with a bit of dirt in the corners than a pure hell, or who share my view about a sparkly clean house being a sign of a life wasted, by all means, keep on reading.

Tomorrow I'm having a friend over for coffee, we don't see eachother often, at all. And yes, generally I do like to have friends over, but at the moment this home of mine looks *slightly* like a disaster area. Um, the easy way out would be to come up with some lame excuse and cancel the date, but she seems quite eager to come over for a chat, and yes, I too think it would be totally neat to meet up, so I don't really see that as a comfortable option.

Of course I could have done a bit of cleaning here, a bit there earlier, but that's not really me. I like to swirl around at the very last minute doing what has to be done. Can't help it, it's in the genes. I have to swallow that bitter pill, lick the dust. Literally.

But, then, almost without exception, at that last minute, I tend to realise I ought to clean a tiny bit more than I first set out to do. Maybe I should use the toothbrush for the doorframes, perhaps the living room floor would like to have a wax, the windows would probably better serve their purpose if one could actually see some daylight through them.

New curtains should be ironed, some new table cloths too. Maybe a few hairballs should look, and smell, better with a bath. The bookshelves should be re-arranged, and dusted. It's always neat to be able to offer homemade cakes, it would be nice to have seven of them. The list of cleanly musts seems quite endless.

So, right now, the late evening before tomorrow afternoon I should be practising my busy bee skills swirling through the house like Pippi Longstocking on two scrubbers. At this very moment I should be vacuuming, mopping some floors, dusting, putting things in order, putting stuff in panic-bags - or in a fine specimen of a red bureau - washing a very hairy and not very clean dog, baking a cake, or two, or three or seven...

Oh my, ho-hum I think the magic threesome right now is bed-book-lights out.

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Have A Heart

Ok, honestly I'm not much for the commercialized hullabaloo called Valentine's Day, but anyway, you have a hearty, cuddly good day out there!

photo by

Odd Phoney

Sometimes you just have to deal with things you really would have wanted to avoid, life gets in the way of plans. The things you would have liked to avoid, at least for once, for now, can be the silliest, most mundane things imaginable. But somehow that mundane thing/s can become a real heart-pounding, mouthdrying, lump in the stomach obstacle that demands a whole lot of willpower to overcome.

Myself I have this complicated relationship with telephones - well not the phone itself, now that would be completely scary and probably quite decadent, but the calls to and from it. And, mind you, this is a sort of semi-secret so I'd appreciate if you didn't pass it forward.

First, a bit of background to this *oddity* of mine (ha, ha, as if I have to explain myself);

I love the company of my very self on my own, but I also love to interact with people - preferably intelligent, thinking, acting, compassionate, caring, wonderful people and friends I've found by pure luck, chance, destiny and whom I am fortunate enough to be able to call friends, family and acquaintances. But hey, just fairly decent ones can be fun to hang out with too. When I can't meet these persons irl I'm happy just chatting on the phone with them. Sometimes for a lengthy period of time.

Furthermore, I have no problems interacting with new people, make my voice heard at meetings or negotiations, making public speeches or doing my thing, whatever that might be, if needed in the open. So, in general terms - even if I also like my privacy and time for solitary contemplation - nope, I'm no fuddy-duddy recluse, the neighbourhood's hermit catlady - though some might disagree - the anti-social oddball. I'm just me.

However. Telephones. This amazing invention that we have come to depend so very much upon, sometimes leave me with some or all of the above symptoms of anxiety. Or well, not the telephones but the step I'm forced to take by calling somebody. Or by all means, answer my own phone sometimes. Do I have to mention that I'm a great fan of answering machines and that I simply adore number presentors? Ah, the endless screening possibilities are truly heaven-sent.

And yes, that one actually make a decision not to answer the phone is a very distinguished sign of inner growth and maturity. I'm a grown up, I can decide for myself, I can actually chose to screen my incoming calls, pick the ones I like to talk to, or at least pick the appropriate time for me to return the call. This is progress, this is me being on top of things. Manoeuvring my own ship of life.

But sometimes, alas, there's no escape, the only way to get things done is by making, or recieving, a phonecall. And yup I'm completely aware of the fact that it's only me, myself and I who blow this phoney business right out of every reasonable proportion. And when I actually will myself to pick that phone up, make that call, take a stand, do the deed, I never stumble, rarely hesitate and most often get rather a buzz by doing, finally having made, that silly, foolish little call I've anxiously put off for varied periods of time.

I think and hope I've come to terms with this phoney part of me, it's not that it delimit my life - even if one might get that impression by reading a whole blogpost about it... But hey, I do like to put things, thoughts and ideas into words - and secretly, deep down, I sort of think that I rather like to carefully nurture this case of phoney phobia. It's actually kind of fancy, the notion of me being a bit of a nutter, having a dash of odd phoney.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A Touch of Food (incl recipe)

As I've mentioned before, inspirational kitchen witchery has been put on a low flame for some time now. So when I've pottered around in the kitchen it has mostly been those fail-proof, ol' favourites. Such as this simple, rustic carrot - soya sausage pasta *thing*. Thing as it isn't really a sauce, but it should be served with tagliatelle. I suppose this simple dish doesn't appeal to everyone, it is indeed very straightforward, wholesome and well, earthly one might say.

Grated carrots - lots of it! - minced onion, mushrooms - tinned actually works better than fresh. Fry it in a bit of sunflower oil. Then add soya sausages - yes this is definitely and only a vegetarian dish! - and in the end a few tablespoons of not-cottage-cheese-not-créme-fraiche-but-something-low-fat-in-between-which-I-can't-seem-to-remember-the-English-name-for. Let it get warm, salt and black pepper, voilá, serve with tagliatelle.

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Saffron beans - um, one of the thing that returned up very quickly on Christmas Eve, even if it wasn't the beans fault I really, really won't be making this dish again. Ever. The first impression definitely lasts in this case...
Delicious veggie wok with halloumi
Creamy broccoli, soya sausage and carrot *thing*
Beetroot/carrot/corn pastasalad with soy nuggets,
nice one!
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I wish I could say this parsnip & potatoe soup was as delicious as it was easy to make - I can't. It had a very weird and tangy aftertaste, I'm not sure if it was the parsnip, the touch of lemon juice or the generous amount of turmeric that caused it, or the combination of it all. Bottom line, it didn't make for a pleasant soup. Won't make again.

Now, what will it be for dinner today then...

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Swedish Authors, part 3 (3)

The latest three books I've finished just happened to be by Swedish authors, hence the somewhat "pretentious" title of this post. The other two you find here and here.

This writer, John Ajvide Lindqvist, is quite often referred to as the Swedish version of Stephen King. Yes, he writes horror fiction, but I don't think Lindqvist is as studiously splatter and gore fanciful, as King tend to be - and I've so read my fair share of King-books and I really, really like many of them. When they're good they're great, inventive, nail-biting well-written pieces of literature, when they're not they're repetitiously slobbery and boring. I also think Lindqvist has a more sophisticated way of writing, he's very good at connecting the really bad, or weird, or exciting things that happen to very ordinary people amongst us, to very mundane surroundings.

Surroundings and situations that most of us can relate to, in one way or another. Not only because it perhaps takes place in a sleepy suburb close to home, but also because there are everyday people involved, a usual place of work, a perhaps sad and grey way of life, a normal reaction to a certain abnormal occurrence. Always written with a social awareness and a certain undercurrent of sadness.

His first two books "Let the right one in" and "Handling the Undead" have apparently already been translated to English. The third one, the one I finished some time ago, is called "Pappersväggar" (Paperwalls) where the first half of it is a collection of short stories - nine of them - and the second half is a closure on the "Handling the Undead".

I enjoyed it immensely! The diversity of the stories, the ingeniousness, that special groundswells of melancholy. Couldn't stop reading, finished it in two late night readings. And I still ponder over some of the stories, they do have a tendency to linger on. Definitely a recommended read! Although, if read in the non-original language some of perception of it might be lost in translation, alas.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

WCB # 140 - The Heat(pump) Is On

Even if the ungrateful human showed a more than unappreciative side when she first learnt about the heatpump as a birthday gift a couple of years ago, we immediately knew it was a perfect thing to install. Not only does it save a whole lot of money, it's environmental friendly and gives a very nice indoor air and warmth.

Though the most important thing, really, is that it's so darn kitty friendly, the best thing ever is to lie beneath it and enjoy the warm air - which makes our eyes glow in that special from-outer-space-greenish-way - and it also miraculously collects a piece of fluff here and there so we can play with it, there in the warm air. And no, we don't look silly, lying below the heatpump, we just know how to appreciate life in full, in our special catty way. You should learn from us. So thanks, M, for this perfect gift for all furry us! We, who actually can pick upon a good thing when we see it...

This week's cat blogging is hosted by Kashim & Othello, so head over there if you want the latest on the Valentine's edition WCB.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Afternoon Tea at Ester's


As I've mention a few times before, finding the perfect afternoon tea in Stockholm, if you don't make it yourself, is pretty darn difficult. If the tea is good, then the scones are non-existing (!) - like at Chaikhana the last time, and I must say I wasn't very impressed by neither the service nor the food/tea that time either. A pity. Since it's a more costly place to go, one also likes to get exactly what one pays for... - if they have good scones the tea is average or below.

And if they have whipped cream - I'm no fan of the clotted version so by all means omit that - then they don't have strawberry jam. The jam which I think is THE only jam to have with cream tea. The cucumber sandwiches are rarely to be seen at all, and I think the places serving afternoon tea - or at least claiming they are... - in general are rather preoccupied with offering too much of bread, buns, cakes and cookies instead of making decent scones, sandwiches and serving good quality jam.

Having gotten that off my chest - what a relief - I had a rather pleasant experience of a *new* afternoon place the other day. New as in they haven't been serving afternoon tea for that long, but the place in itself has been around, at that very address, since 1899. And it's reputedly the oldest tea & coffee merchant in Stockholm, namely Ester's The & Kaffehandel (Ester's Tea & Coffeeshop). I've been meaning to stop by for ages, but for various reasons haven't. Until now. And I will definitely return. And not only because I think their website is perfect in all its simplicity, with a lovely picture play and just the right amount of information, only in Swedish though.

It was just really cosy, homely, unpretentious with a charming old-fashion feel to it and a very accomodating, sweet female proprietor. The afternoon tea was lovely, lacked a few details perhaps but very tasty. Even though you had to ask for whipped cream and the strawberry jam was non-existing. But the other jams were nice ones, they had a Swedish touch with a delicious crispbread served with brie - the French twist - and grapes. Best of all, the scones being perfectly scrumptious. The tea of your own choice from the vast selection also for sale.

There are only six-eight tables there, quickly filled that Friday afternoon. I'd imagine it's even worse on weekends. A limited assortment of cakes and buns, but if they were anything like those scones they must be great. The place is closed on Mondays, and afternoon tea is only served from 2 pm Friday and during Saturday and Sunday.

If you want to read my views on a few more or less worth-visiting for afternoon tea places in Stockholm I suggest you click the label "afternoon tea".


Edit - at Ester's we're now known as the ladies who want whipped creams with our afternoon teas. What can I say, remembering such details about guests who don't show up all that regularly (really) is very much thumbs up as far as I'm concerned.

Friday, February 08, 2008

China Girl

At the beautiful Konstnärshuset (Art House) in the city centre there's a small but urgent, sad and beautiful exhibition - by artist Maria Ängquist Klyvare - on at the moment called China Girl. The exhibition revolves around the shocking fact that 50 million women are "missing" in China, thousands of girls are being literally eradicated each and every day. Murdered and neglected. Not considered as valuable as a boy, and this tragedy is ongoing still in this day and age.

Such brutality, the extent of ignorance and yes, pure ungraspable evilness, its painful to be faced with. Makes one shudder both in horror, despair and immense sadness. Read more here (both in Swedish and English) about this very flagrant form of gender discrimination and its far-reaching consequences.

For all its faults and flaws, such malicious phenomenas and cultural tides makes one very grateful for being born, loved, living and existing in this little country in northern Europe. Oh yes, there's much room for improvement here too, on many levels indeed, but all and all, as a society, we're blessed with the evident lack of such troglodyte behaviour without an ounce of compassion.

This pressing exhibition is on at Konstnärshuset until February 14th, then it'll go on tour throughout Sweden until 2009. Address is Smålandsgatan 7, open Tuesday-Sunday, free admission.




Thursday, February 07, 2008

The Day After


- Hey, I'm not sure it was such a good idea devouring that semla the other day, I feel bloated...


- Um, I know what you mean, there's like something not... feeling quite alright...


- Oh, here it comes, I feel giddy, oh no, I'm turning upside down, the world is swirling, please make it stop...

We all have to live with ourselves the day after - choose wisely. And live well.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Swedish Authors, part 2 (3)

The so called Millennium-series is a suspense trilogy with a social criticism edge by a Swedish journalist/author, Stieg Larsson, who suddenly and unexpectedly passed away before even the first of them was published. Larsson was one of the founders, and editor-in-chief, of the research foundation and magazine Expo, which you can read more about here

The screen adaption of the first book will begin filming in Sweden this Spring. The series has been sold to many different countries and the first book "Män som hatar kvinnor" (Men who hate women) has already been translated into English. But as far as I know it got the title "The girl with the dragon tattoo", which is a title that refers to the tattoo of one of the main characters in the books. A very strange choice of title for this book though, and in that case more suitable for the second book, the one I've just finished, called "Flickan som lekte med elden" (The girl who played with fire). The third book, "Luftslottet som sprängdes" (The air castle that was blown up), hasn't been released in paperback yet. And yes, I mainly read my books in paperback form nowadays. Much more convenient both in size and price.

The books have been a huge success with critics as well as readers. And yes, I really, really enjoyed the first book, quite without reservations, I think. Well written, interesting characters, the political edge, the plot.

This second book though, I either read with a more critical approach - unintentionally - or perhaps it was simply less well written. Oh, of course it was thrilling, and with a good overall plot. But it was also *a bit* overfed with words - and mind you, this notion comes from someone who adore words! - quite a lot of the unnecessary, blab kind. Not witty, not needful for the storyline, just plain too much. Annoyingly superfluous passages and characters. A bit too sapient, too know-it-all-goody-two-shoes. Qualities which can be entertaining and even great, more than great perhaps, in moderate doses. With a fair amount of self-distance. In this book I found it to be just rather overbearing.

Yes it's an easy read, good suspense, and the "quirky" details of this street, that café, those shops in Stockholm, which makes it fun, if you know your city, to follow the events and characters *at close range*. But for my personal taste, I find the book to be a slight case of too crudely written. Myself I like my favourite suspense novels written with more refinement as well as a sense of dry wittiness. Especially so when it comes to those books that have that certain social criticism and political twist to them.

So, in summation, perhaps not on a book on Pia's suspense-novels hit list, but well, rather interesting and entertaining read just the same.

Pretty in Winter


Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Fat Tuesday


I hope you got your fair share of lenten buns today, being Fat Tuesday which traditionally is the first day for feasting on this typical Swedish lenten bun a k a semla. Read more about the tradition here. Now a very washy tradition, alas, and admittedly I've already lapsed...

Hrm, and I think I also have to admit, for strictly purgatively purposes, I actually had one and a half semla today. One was far from good, and yes I was practically force-feed, for social reasons. The number two - which was a very good one - made me feel *slightly* queasy, and now, no more semla for me this season. Brr.

The good one - which two tiny, adamant silhouette cats also feasted on - was from Gunnarssons Specialkonditori (Gunnarson's Special Confectionary). Perfect in taste and consistency, although a bit silly big in size. Hence the queasyness... Here's an article (only in Swedish) on a semla-try out from last year, where this semla was in first place. Yup, this is serious business in Sweden. Indeed.


Monday, February 04, 2008

Colourful Residential Quintet

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Just because they - and many more in their vicinity, but you have to draw the photographical line somewhere - were so pretty in the pale february sun I'll share this colourful quintet.
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080204 014
080204 015
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I could *probably* be persuaded to live in whichever one of them, but the latter one - imagine, not the pink one! - is my definite favourite, the pale yellow wooden one, the ornamented facade, the plethora of glass verandas. And it comes with the car of my first choice - if I one day would get one of my own and it was environmental friendly... - the bright green VW Beetle. Ah, dream on.

Which house is your favourite? And why?
The place where all these wonderful houses are found; Vaxholm - home of the world's best vanilla bun
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