Friday, August 31, 2018

goodbye summer, hello autumn

jaume plensa art, djurgården, stockholm, sweden, august 2018

It's with sadness one has to admit that summer is over. It was an awful, frightening summer where you couldn't breath and think at the same time, with climate angst and sleep deprivation galore. But since it was like a reality version of an episode of the Twilight Zone it's like you never really got to experience the beauty and relaxation that is called Scandinavian summer.

And then all the rain we could have used during summer seem to have arrived a plenty these past couple of weeks. Everything is very green now, at last, but even if the temperatures are around +20C it's still distinctly autumn in the air. As is melancholy.

So, time for a few highs as well as lows of these past weeks -

jaume plensa art, djurgården, stockholm, sweden, august 2018

:: The above amazing sculptures are made by the Barcelonian artist Jaume Plensa, who currently have some pieces shown at Djurgården, nearby and even in the channel. The big heads are just magical, like an optic illusion. And the life sized men hugging cherry trees are delightful - the world needs more men hugging (cherry) trees! The exhibition is on until September 23. Shouldn't be missed if you're in Stockholm.

jaume plensa art, djurgården, stockholm, sweden, august 2018

:: That this 15 year old amazing girl, Greta Thunberg, is on climate strike outside the Swedish parliament, since two weeks, until our election next Sunday, is both heartbreaking and hopeful. That politicians and grown ups have failed is very obvious. As she herself put it the first day of her strike, when she was alone there - others have since joined - "Children most often don't do as grown ups tell them to, they do what grown ups do. And since you don't give a sh*t about my future, I don't either."

Not one (Swedish) politician has really taken the climate change catastrophy serious in the election campaigns. They still do not get that the climate is the one and only thing we should all be talking about. Even if "we're doomed and very few are prepared to say so." we should address it, take some responsability and serious actions to make the most of what I seriously fear are reasonably few years left of the beautiful, livable planet humans have destroyed for shortsighted, selfish reasons.

Politicians in general seem to be incapable of long-sightedness, unwilling to tell uncomfortable truths in fear of losing votes. And oh woe if another politician or party will "get credit" for that uncomfortable truth somewhere down the line instead.

If we didn't have career politicians, which is a concept that is just bizarre imho but not many seem to question, this would not be an issue in quite the same way. A limited term of office would be a very healthy thing.

I guess anything can happen on September 9. The day before there's the international People's Climate March here too. I hope we are many many who turn up. If we are enough introverts that turn up maybe we can make a change?

I said I will be voting with my heart only this election. But reading, listening and thinking I think it's a time to vote strategically. Just vote for the environment and forget everything else. Everything else is insignificant if we don't have a planet to live on. I still haven't fully decided which party to vote for, but there are 7 parties I most certainly won't vote for, they are just more bad business as usual news for the environment.

matologi fair - food and the future, stockholm, sweden, august 25, 2018

:: Last weekend I attended the Matologi-fair arranged by SLU - Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences - about sustainability and the future food. Despite good intentions it was an overall disappointing experience, of which some of the reasons were;
- All the non-recycable disposible cups everywhere. It's not hard to get a KeepCup and bring it whenever you buy coffee/tea. Promise. - How few plantbased exhibitors there were. - Politicians and debaters need to talk more about how essential the shift to plantbased food is. Stop sidesliping and continue talking about eating animals at any cost. It's much harder to replace the planet in the future than it is to change your diet and lifestyle (which has an immense impact on the environment) today.

If we want a future it is plantbased. Period. Compared to the great sustainability forum arranged by Stockholm University (my Alma Mater) in March (which also partly talked about the future food) it lacked innovative talks, knowledge and discussions. (I don't think I ever wrote about that forum, bad me. There were many really interesting talks about our dependency on fossil fuel, and how that ties to wars, instable regions, migration and of course global warming. And also sustainable food, health and science.)

It's quite disturbing when universities don't communicate with eachother and learn from previous experiences, especially research institutes in such close proximity. Plus obviously show so little interest in talking about/with farmer's that have shifted into plantbased farming, large scale urban farming like Plantagon, food scientists etc.

matologi fair - food and the future, stockholm, sweden, august 25, 2018

:: On the day of Matologi, the police had given permission to a nazi rally - alongside 134 other events and rallies in Stockholm that day... - I know, it's deeply worrying that they still allow anti-democratic movements like that to march on the streets here. I also think it's very upsetting that the police still use horses in their work at rallies. It's such an outdated and cruel concept.
matologi fair - food and the future, stockholm, sweden, august 25, 2018

:: I've written briefly about the bizarre concept of personality tests as a lazy way of recruting. Last week I had the questionable non-pleasure of doing another one, for a job that sounded reasonably cool and interesting, after having a long chat with the CEO of said company. He promised to call with feedback the next day. He never did. And given the honestly rather creepy tests and my refusal to adapt my answers to what they obviously wanted to hear, I'm not surprised. I didn't even get a general summary of the result or a thank you email for taking the two hours to complete the test. Not a good way to deal with employer branding *insert rolling eyes*.

In fact I think the questions were so creepily weird I'm preparing another blog post about the test alone. I can't remember every question, there were 200-300 of them (yes really), but I have some noteworthy ones I'd like to write some more about.

Did I mention that the personality test I did before summer showed I was basically a selfish psychopath? It was obviously quite offensive, and at the same time a pretty hilariously proof on just how off these tests really are.

I'm all for work samples, reputation resumes, referees and "how would you solve this fictive work scenario?" tests. Those are relevant parts of a recruitment process. Ridiculous personality and "logic" tests are not. For goodness sake, MEET the candidate first, before you assess they're worth or non-worthy candidates. Recruiter, do your job, don't be lazy, be professional.

I will never again accept to do a personality test. I also think it's quite questionable to not be up front with that in the job ad, but instead sneak it in at a later stage in the process. It's a waste of everyone's time. Well, everyone but the unprofessional recruiter.

post-pedicure (bliss!), august 2018

:: Had a well-deserved pedicure with my little mom. It was over a year since last. It was bliss. I hope I'll be able to do it more regularly soon. Good for the soul as well as those poor feet that literally stand for a lot.

vegan food stockholm, august 2018 -

:: Today, on the last shivering day of summer, I met up for a quiet first anniversary celebration of last year's brilliant brunch and brainstorming fika. It's a nice little tradition to end the summer with. We have alas not getting any further with our brilliant B-project - life has a way of coming in between plans... - but one day we will work something magic together.

I remember I was in a much better mood a year ago, calm after the intense grief recovery process, excited about a cool work autumn - little did I know then that I was going to be deeply hurt by it all six months later... - than I am now. I wish I felt less weary. But it is what it is, last summer was a much better, energizing and significantly less worrisome one.

The vegan food today wasn't as spectacular as last year, but the sandwich with beetroot hummus and grilled veggies was really nice and that little unassuming chocolate cake delicious.

vegan food stockholm, august 2018 -

Then we clinked in organic kombucha. Much better than champagne as far as I'm concerned.

Bye summer, farewell August, you have been disappointing, but I know it's not your fault. And I've learnt a lot, even if it was more than I needed.

Hello autumn, hi September, oh pretty pretty please, can you be nice, kind and lovely with sugar and sprinkles on top, please? Much needed. Promise an abundance of gratitude. Thank you ever so much in advance.

vegan food stockholm, august 2018 -

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

organic vegan food inspiration, part 5

årstiderna vegan food box, food ambassador, swedwn, july 2018 -

Welcome to part 5 in the vegan food inspiration series! Since part 4 I've mentioned the recipe for a lovely new potato salad (served with seitan sausage and salad). As well as the fantastic okonomiyaki. And the Saag aloo.

The recipes you can as usual find in Swedish at the Årstiderna website, or in the app, if you'd like a translation for a specific recipe, leave a comment.

årstiderna organic vegan food box, june 2018 -

Ovenbaked aubergine with tamari, potato wedges, spinach, spring onion and sesame seeds. This was absolutely metl-in-your-mouth delicious. Even if the portion wasn't very hearty, as some portions are very generous others are smaller.

årstiderna organic vegan food box, june 2018 -

Quinoa bowl with portobello mushroom, spring onion, green beans, red cabbage and cherry plum tomatoes plus roased almonds. Nice but rather plain.

årstiderna organic vegan food box, june 2018 -

This was supposed to be quinoa-broccoli steaks, but it was impossible to shape them so I ended up just frying the mix instead. Served in tortilla with red cabbage and spicy tomato sauce. Another case of nice (although a little disappointing) but plain dish.

årstiderna organic vegan food box, 2018 -

Summer rolls with crispy veggies and peanut sauce. This was such a delightfully messy and tasty experience! I will never be a master roll maker, but it was tasty and fun to make. Fresh carrots, spring onion, cucumber, fennel, green beans and some peanuts wasn't enough to fill you, still enjoyed the experience and I can definitely see it could be more satisfying with tofu and other veggies.

årstiderna organic vegan food box, 2018 -

Hummus with bread rolls and tomato salad. Simple but lovely. As everything hummus is.

årstiderna organic vegan food box food ambassador, july 2018 -

Hotpot with beans, tomato, fennel, squash, carrots and cumin. With few exceptions I'm not a great fan of tomato based sauces and dishes. This was not one of those exceptions. Filling, but not a favourite.

årstiderna organic vegan food box food ambassador, july 2018 -

Quesadillas with black beans, baby spinach and nutritional yeast, served with avocado-tomato salsa. Such a delicious delight! Very satisfying and simple to make.

årstiderna organic vegan food box food ambassador, july 2018 -

Salad wraps with cucumber, carrots, avocado, coriander, nectarine, peanut-garlic sauce and sesame seeds. Lovely to look at, tasty and fresh, but not satisfying at all, like the summer rolls there's need for more protein. Would make a lovely side salad though.

årstiderna organic vegan food box food ambassador, july 2018 -

Pad thai noodles with summer cabbage, spring onions, tamari and peanuts. It was tasty, but would certainly have benefitted from tofu or some other protein more than a few peanuts.

årstiderna organic vegan food box food ambassador, july 2018 -

Maccheroni pasta with pesto and tomato-chili salsa. Absolutely delicious. What a wonderful way of making pesto with walnuts, garlic, basil and nutritional yeast.

årstiderna organic vegan food box food ambassador, july 2018 -

Tikka stew with paddy rice, spinach, lentils and nectarine-chili salsa. Nice but basic.

årstiderna organic vegan food box food ambassador, july 2018 -

Wraps with homemade falafel with squash and tahinidressing. Very good. Doing your own falafel from scratch is so very satisfying, even if I don't enjoy the frying.

årstiderna organic vegan food box food ambassador, july 2018 -

Millet stew with overbaked aubergine and walnut vineagrette. Delicious and filling. Smooth and creamy from the nutritional yeast.

årstiderna vegan food box, food ambassador, swedwn, july 2018 -

Marinated tofu with pak choy, spring onions, carrots, squash, paddy rice and tamari. Lovely. The tofu came from British Dragonfly and it was really good.

årstiderna vegan food box, food ambassador, swedwn, july 2018 -

årstiderna vegan food box, food ambassador, swedwn, july 2018 -

Wraps with chili beans, rice, avocado and salad. Very nice and filling.

årstiderna vegan food box, food ambassador, swedwn, july 2018 -

Seitan-spinach filled tortellini in aubergine-tomato sauce with nutritional yeast. This was one of those exceptions to me not liking tomato based sauces. It was lovely. And what a fun thing with seitan filled tortellini.

I hope you've found some tasty and useful inspiration for tasty, healthy, kind and environmental friendly cooking - any questions, leave a comment or get in touch!

Organic vegan food inspiration 1
Organic vegan food inspiration 2
Organic vegan food inspiration 3

Sunday, August 12, 2018

the august wind in the trees

luddkolt’s british shorthair, july - august 2018 -

The temperature dropped with over 50% today. As luxurious and refreshing as it is with rain, cooler temperatures and to be able to breath (and sleep!) again, it's still quite disturbing with only +12C so soon after a month of many +35C days and scary drought. Global warming and climate change is a fickle, non-predictable thing.

There is no such thing as left or right, only back or forth, when it comes to dealing with climate change. But of course the internet trolls and reactionaries with dark agendas pop their nasty heads up with claims that climate change is a leftist conspiracy. When the ONLY thing everyone should be talking about now in the Swedish election campaigns, after this awful summer (even if it is too little too late), is how do we deal with global warming. But there's little talk about that, and still the same smearings as usual. With less than a month left to the election I don't see anything changing. How is it possible not more people suffer from serious climate angst?

The other day offered a glorious starlit night sky, a sweet late summer breezes. It was a perfect night to be dancing under the stars. I'm glad to finally get at least one opportunity for that this summer.

With cooler weather today was a perfect day to snuggle indoors, read books, listen to music, watching TV, contemplate life and take naps. Your know, your average relaxing autumn or winter Sunday. In August already.

Something I've enjoyed immensely lately is watching "The Young Pope". Being an atheist I was sceptical to watch something so intensely religious. But as I stumbled into an episode I found it surprisingly enthralling. Jude Law is brilliant as the young pope, a complex, multi-faceted character. It's so entertaining, thought-provoking and beautifully made, so much more than religion. Great actors and quite a unique story, one of the best series I've seen. I kind of hope there won't be another season, that would take the magic out of it I think. If you haven't watched it yet, I highly recommend it. (In Sweden it's still avilable at TV4 Play.)

Remember the intense recruitment process I was involved in earlier this summer, but I didn't get the job? As I had focused so much on that process and the job I didn't want to throw myself into another process, apply for more jobs with serious intentions. I wanted to spend this summer figure out what I wanted. But this summer has instead been a tiresome, hot and worrisome season instead, not a soul searching and planning one.

Then the recruiter that was responsible for the job above called on Friday asking if I had seen another job they had advertised, for which I was a great match? Indeed I had, but for the above reasons I had held off applying. But now I said yes to be presented for the organisation, an international NGO that does great and very practical work. So once again, fingers crossed this will be and feel right for me.

You know the popular phrase about "Be responsible and take charge of your life"? When in fact surprisingly often most of us spend a lot of time waiting for others to make up their minds, for the time and place to be right for action, for moving on. No human is an island, we most always depend on interaction with others to be able to move on in the directon we want. And sometimes in a direction we haven't even thought of, but nevertheless end up enjoying.

So, entering another week of August 2018, with cooler temperatures, I hope for good nights' sleeps, energy and inspiration returning, lovely job news of various kinds and life in general to pick up momentum, have more wonderful flow. That's not too much to ask for, right? Right.

Sunday, August 05, 2018

melt down perfection

rainbows, july - august stockholm pride week, 2018

After this past + month with temperatures that made a decent sleep impossible, add to that I struggled with sleeping for months before that too - which I usually love to do, waking up after a good night's rest feeling all perky and energetic is bliss. Strangely enough didn't have sleeping problems with when M had passed away, possibly my life's worst crisis, but my sleep wasn't affected. The body and mind work in mysterious ways... - it's easy to see that sleep deprivation must be an excellent torture method.

There have been some rain this past week. A couple of crazy heavy rainfalls, which were the heaviest I've ever experienced, rain falling both vertically and horisontally. You would expect the weather to become lighter, fresher after that, but insted the humidity was around 99% for days. Which made it feel even hotter than before, and the constant moist surface on skin made body lotions superfluous for sure. And make-up a waste since it just melted away.

rainbows, july - august stockholm pride week, 2018

These past couple of days have been slighty cooler, at long long last. And it has been easier to sleep. But of course getting back to feeling like myself will take time after these months. It will take many good nights sleeps to get the energy back, the brain to be its usual self, to feel less fragile and stressed.

There are a lot of good articles on sleep deprivation out there, and this one is just one with some hands on tips on how to catch up on lost sleep.

So many fingers and paws crossed for reasonable, cooler summer temperatures now. And great, restful sleeps.

One benefit of high humidity, which by no means trump the fact of all the awful cons of it, is that my hair looks great. Curly, wavy, full and bouncy, even when its dirty (which I kind of feel it is all the time, also thanks to the humidity). The only time ever my hair reacted like this was when I was in Dublin and rain and humidity was basically in the air all week. Well over 15 years ago that.

rainbows, july - august stockholm pride week, 2018

Another positive thing is that you get less self-concious about your perceived bodily flaws. They may exist only in your head, but they're still there being annoying and useless. In this heat and humidity you simply don't have the energy to spend on that uselessness. Every day is simplified and "How do I get through this day with least amount of effort and least amount of clothes without being in a bikini?" is the pervading focus.

And since every day is a good hair day that's not an issue to ponder with the few brain-cells still available either, hooray.

rainbows, july - august stockholm pride week, 2018

This past + week has been Stockholm Pride week too. I basically never participate in anything taking place in huge crowds - last year's Climate March being an exception, because when it's really serious even introverts turn up - but I still like to, in my small and colour nerdy way, acknowledge that love is love and what the world desperately need is more kindness. And vegans, which is naturally the epitome of kindness and compassion.

So I've had a couple of lovely, colourful lunches on town - the above photo is a delicious noodle salad with tofu and mango from one of my favourite vegan cafes, Mahalo. You can read about it in my Stockholm guide -, I've taken my little Sonnys on rainbow photo sessions, I've played rainbow with my shoes - which obviously always include snoopervisors that think the world always revolves around them - and I've painted circus nails, rainbow nails. Also I finally got myself a pretty tin of the awesome organic EarlGay tea from Johan & Nyström, which I've enjoyed for my breakfast all week.

earl gay tea, johan & nyström organic tea, stockholm pride, 2018 - and sonny angel rainbow (sky colour series)

årstiderna vegan food box, food ambassador, swedwn, july 2018 -

And the final organic vegan food box dish this week got a rainbow coloured framing - it lacks in details because it took one tyke named Ztina about five seconds to ruffle and ruin the colourful papers with muddy paw prints, but I kind of like it anyway. And it's the thought behind it that matters, not any perceived perfection. Perfection in imperfection. The dish on display is spicy Saag aloo with potato, spinach and green peas. (Recipe in Swedish here.)

Now I'm looking forward August and a week with finally no more substitute buses for the commuter trains, revitalizing sleeps, awesome job news, some sweet Stockholm outings which is possible to actually enjoy since the weather has cooled down.

I will try to worry less and enjoy more. It won't be easy, it really won't, but just like this whole summer, a day at a time is feasible, right? Right.
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