Saturday, August 27, 2016

my perfect contemplation corner


Remember when I painted this Adirondack chair years ago? Since it's actually pretty comfy it has been residing indoors since. But when I changed things around a bit this spring - due to unexpected life events... - I put it out in the garden near the fragrant mock orange, which has since obviously been overgrown by the amazing clematis. Didn't realize it would become one of my favourite spots in the garden this summer, but it certainly has been!


Weather and time allowed it is the perfect place to enjoy breakfast, fika and contemplation. It's my thinking and life enjoying chair. Sitting there on a warm summer day, in the shade, mild breezes and the cats flocking around me for cuddles I know I'm so blessed and grateful for all the wonderful things I have in my life, have had, will have.


My clematis is bigger than yours! And the picture does not do it justice.


Hopefully there will be quite a few more moments of this and breakfasts al fresco still this season. But one thing's for sure, I will miss my perfect contemplating, gratitude corner lots when weather turns autumn.


How many cats can you spot here?

Do you have a perfect contemplation spot too?
Tell me all about it!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

what a work of a day


Today I had the second job interview booked a month ago - I'm glad to say that it was nothing at all like the blooper of last week. All good vibes and overall a very nice chat with a couple of really nice women basically. And no less professional just because it was nice and friendly.

I'll get an answer next week. What can be a negative for me is that even if the advert said half-time post there's also a possibility to work full-time until the end of the year, and I simply can't do that at one single workplace 9-5, 5 days per week. My mind. body and soul need a mix of people and solitude, places and assignments to be happy and productive. Of course I can slide a bit on the 50% - 100% scale but not a lot (if I'm not able to work from home regularly).

It took me a long burn-out syndrome sick-leave to really grasp that. There's no turning back from that fact, not even my need for financial stability, since I know I wouldn't be true to myself then. And that's so important in all aspects of life. So hopefully they aren't in desperate need for a full-time person on the advertised half-time post. Because it was that that called my name so beautifully. And it seems like quite a golden opportunity to use both my background as a lawyer and my current copywriter/social media nerd occupation. Fingers firmly crossed.

- It was also a bit of an everyday adventure to take the commuter train to the very end station (two stations from my stop) of the northern commuter train line. I rarely go there by train since it's one station passed the county border and the already rather expensive travel card price is actually the double. Of course you can pay with a single ticket and add that to your regular monthly travel card, but that's not viable doing twice every day if you work there. So if you commute over the county border regularly you actually have to pay a ridiculous sum of money for your travel card. And it's the same thing if you travel to the furthest southern station. Which is basically crazy since it's a commuter train that serves the Stockholm area, it's part of the Stockholm public transportation system and not everyone can live in the city or the nearby suburbs. End of general rant. -

I then got a call from the place I worked at full-time in May, asking if I could possibly do some extra work for them more or less regularly - since the two communicators I worked with then had given their notice and there's now only one left. I'd be very happy to. I know the organisation, I know their work and website (which I helped to migrate back then). And I'll be able to work from home with the odd office meeting here and there, since they already know I'm reliable. Best. Thing. Ever.

The slightly funny thing though is that I suspect the communication manager did a bit of sleuthing, especially after I had teh eprfect opportunity to ask if she would be one of my referees for the part-time job, being very curious about if I was only interested in part-time and not full-time by any chance. But no, again, I really need to carve out a work-life balance that makes me happy and fulfilled.

Then spent a portion of the day chasing after the purchase order for my latest social media management gig in order to be able to invoice - I'm very grateful that hasn't been a big thing, not getting paid in time by clients. So far. Fingers crossed. Which I understand is quite a bit of a hassle for many freelancers. - I then got it this evening so now it's up to me to fill in that invoicing correctly. I wish I could simply send my own usual invoice, but I guess some agencies have a lot of freelancers and different departments that need to interpret those, so okey then.

- Seriously though, all these on- and offline documents and forms that need to be filled in all the time, jeez. I wonder how much time we spend doing that in general.

I've also applied for another couple of good long-term gigs a few hours per week. I hope both of them get in touch of course, but I can settle for one if I must. Oh it would be just wonderful to be able to set up a schedule for 6 months - a year with a different blend of regular gigs and work. Which at the same time leaves room for other projects and interesting collabs. Dream scenario.

So at the moment there's a whole lot of finger crossing going on. You are so very welcome to join me.

PS. The sweet horse sculpture in the picture? It's a piece of wood art in the reception area at the place I had my interview today called called 'Resting horses'. I enjoyed it a lot. DS.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

five months later



After the first month I haven't really thought about the date 23 as such, but yesterday evening it hit me. And when I woke up this morning even more. Five months. Really.

It's still a long, winding road to go. But some days are really good, great even, others not so much. I'm very much looking forward to the days of sadness, melancholy, anger and worry are trumped by the ones without.

But it was a very warm and generous day with blue skies today. And this late summer evening brought a starry night. Which I think is rather amazing given that even if I live in a rural suburb it has a lot of street lights and spots that often spoil those beautiful starry evenings. 

I also had a very good meeting today, which went much better than the blooper of the other day. Which hopefully will lead to a great experience on a non-profit-making-the-world-a-better-place level. A chance to inspire change and learn lots about sustainability. Another piece in the jigsaw puzzle that I want my life to be.

So even if it was a rather emotional day it was also a day of possibilities and new beginnings. A day of tears but also a day of sunshine and blue skies.

Death. And life.

Monday, August 22, 2016

trust the gut

wenngarn castle and dammstugan vedugn, august 2016 -

You know the feeling when you fit bang on perfect for a postion on paper, when the first interview goes really really well and you get all psyched up looking forward to the next one? And it goes all terribly wrong, because you really really don't speak the same language? In fact it may be doubtful you even live on the same planet. 

Yup. That just happened to me.

Remember the interview for (what seemed like a great job) I had booked for the week before last? It went very well, the recruitment company was really nice and the meeting was lovely. Last week it was time for the meeting at the actual startup company, which I obviously looked forward to lots.

But it turned out to be a very awkward meeting. In fact one of the weirdest ones I've ever been to. To put all those impressions into short: we really really didn't speak the same language. At all. And with blasé stonefaces they looked at me like I as was a UFO. My immediate gut feeling said NO, to be honest I actually felt like standing up and say 'hey guys, this doesn't feel right, thanks but I'm gonna leave now'. And that's certainly a rare feeling for me. Had a great feedback talk with the recrutitment company today and I was glad to hear that the feeling was mutual. Trust the gut. So I'm grateful I never had to deal with an offer given my gut feeling.

The recrutiment company were also surprised at how very differently they resp the company's CEO had perceived me - happy and inspirational vs shy and bad at selling myself. The shy thing I have no idea about, the bad at selling myself, well that could definitely have been the above mentioned feeling of simply cutting the meeting short and say 'bye'. And to be quite frank, mr CEO and the other guy at the meeting (whose role I still haven't really figured out), you were certainly not good at selling your company with passion and enthusiasm either. Good luck to the one that fits and gets the job, I'm really curious whom that would be.

All and all, a great position (marketing and community manager) I'd absolutely jump with joy at in a startup company showing the right chemistry, where people actually seem happy and truly engaged in what they're doing and where we click - but this was not it for me, or them, alas.

I'm also baffled that many companies don't realise that an interview situation isn't only a case of them scrutinizing a presumptive new employee, but most certainly they will have to impress that person too. It's a two-way interview not a one-way. And if you as a company fail at that from the start, its very likely you'll not get to see the best from the interviewee.

Now I'm very glad that I have a new contact at a great recruitment company, which seem to care a lot about both the candidate and the presumptive new employer. I'm also very grateful to the person who recommended me for the job. It's been a very interesting 2 weeks journey, of course I had hoped for much more given how awesome the month of August begun and how high hopes I had, but still a neat experience. For the gut and me.

So now I'm recharging for the first booked interview on Thursday instead. Where we'll hopefully click in a much better way. It certainly isn't as cool a job, where I would be able to put my own stamp on the role as much, in what could have been an exciting startup environment, but it does have other fine advantages. I will trust my gut.

Monday, August 15, 2016

stockholm august cavalcade


Making the most of the first week of commuter trains back on track (pun intended) for me meant three Stockholm outings (a mix of business and pleasure), another outing and then I was, as an introvert, peopled out. But also very happy of the things I experienced, big and small, the people I met, the things I ate, during the week.


I have to say that after two laboursome, stressful months of substitute buses it was simply luxurious to be able to ride the train again. Funny how something reasonable (like the public transport working) one take for granted suddenly is a luxuary. And very very much appreciated.


Though after the first week of August the weather has alas been very fickle, with some quite chilly days for summer. Which makes me sad. August was always such a lovely, but wistful, late summer month of mild, beautiful evenings. These past few years it hasn't been sadly. Hello global warming in Scandinavia.


But even if it's been a few chilly days it's still very much summer, you just have to put a cardigan on. So what's up with all these weird people actually wearing high boots, quilted jackets and mittens (yes really!)? The very same people that complain about the cold, long Swedish winters obviously don't grasp the idea of enjoying the summer fully. Mindboggling. And just because your summer holidays are over doesn't mean you have to start wearing autumnal clothes. Embrace the natural vitamin D, folks.


That said, here are some highlights of the the city that's my home from the week that was - enjoy ~

Monday, August 08, 2016

international cat day 2016


Even if obviously every day is a cat day, today is apparently Cat Day with a very capital C. Internationally so.

Therefore I give you my top three ingredients for a happy home. Plus a very happy one of those.


Happy International Cat Day, 
one and all!

Sunday, August 07, 2016

hello august


To be honest, it has not only been a Lovely Day, but a lovely week. Keep going in this awesome way, August, so far you've rocked!


Monday: started the week painting circus nails (it's been far too long) and I think the colour combination is just spot on adorable - from left Essie Lilacism + First Timer and Chanel May + Mimosa + Coco Blue.


Tuesday: had a great vegan lunch with a friend at a vegetarian/vegan/raw place I hadn't tried before (Hälsocafét). This is a delicious plate of noodle salad with pulled VegMe (a new Swedish soy protein brand) and peanut sauce. The iced oat latte on top is also from that day. Loved all the colours and our good chat. (Although that picture was taken about 5 seconds before the rain just poured down.)

That day I also got a call from a recruiter wondering if I'd like to come for an interview for a position in a fun startup. Of course I would! So that's booked for Monday. Full-time position, but flexible and independent work so hopefully I would be able to shape my role so it suits both them and me well. Fingers crossed for good vibes Monday.

So now I'm looking forward to not only one, but two interviews, for in their own different ways, awesome jobs. Lucky me.


Wednesday: I've been looking forward to a really great pedicure for so long now. It has been too long since last. This was bliss. My mum got M and me pedicure gift cards for Xmas - we used them for this more than well-deserved treat, mum and I. So if not there in person, M was with me in thought.


Afterwards we had planned to see an exhibition at the Modern Museum, which is now one of the museums with free entrance in Stockholm. But for some odd reason this exhibition had a hefty price and no, no I'm not that keen on seeing it. So we settled for a walk around the regular exhibitions and most of all a really memorable lunch. 

The fab museum restaurant serves a daily soup which is always vegan (I'm still amazed how fairly easy it is these days to find good plantbased food eating out. And even more amazed when it's not an exception but the rule. *Insert lots of hearts*). This day it was carrot and coconut, with a topping of croutons and roasted seeds. It was absolutely delicious. Spot on flavours and satisfying. The view that came with it didn't really hurt either. Such a wonderful summer Stockholm day it was. (Nb my Accidental Colour Coordination Syndrome showing again.)


Thursday: 99,99% of my time in public I use dresses or skirts. I feel restrained, uncomfortable and awkward in trousers. But since there would be quite a bit of heavy lifting and garbage recycling on Friday I took this ol' pair out on a test ride. I own 3 pair of pants, but the other two are in light linen so these are the only pair suitable for some kind of semi-hard labour. It was a reasonably painless experience wearing trousers again, but it's not something I'll do regularly ever again. Funnily enough though, my goal for the wee trousers outing was to pick up a skirt at the post-office.


Remember I wrote about a fantastic budgie skirt I'd seen, but that was out of my current price league? I've saved for it and when summer sales (at Bryony & Co, amazing vintage style clothes with lots of animal prints) came I went for it. Actually I wanted the navy one, not the pink but this was the only one sale so I went for it. It's absolutely gorgeous. 

But, a big but, the waist is much smaller than expected which makes the skirt much shorter on me so alas it needs to be amended to fit as I want (no larger sizes to chose from). Such a nuisance when sizes aren't what you expect, it's one thing when you can easily return it to the shop and it's a more average garment, quite another when it's a beauty like this plus a more hefty return fee. I'm really not capable of making the amendment looking professional myself so I guess I'll have to get it to a tailor asap. So despite the sales it will be a bit costly, the budgie skirt. But it'll be worth it. Isn't there a saying that the best things in the wardrobe don't come easy? And if there wasn't I've just coined it.


Friday: finally I got help transporting all those big, black garbage bags with mainly garden debris and the old kitchen sofa etc to the recycling station. The fact that I couldn't do it myself since it demanded a car, a trailer and an extra pair of willing hands has really been weighing me down. I have zero interest in socializing with my neighbours, saying hello passing by on the street is the only social level I'm fine with, so that wasn't/will never be an option. And finding friends that have a car/driver's licence, willing to add a trailer, living reasonably nearby, have the time, or for that matter inclination, to help that has not been easy. 

And yes, I don't like to ask for help, I want to be able to do everything myself. Having relied on M for things like this all these years, now not having that natural and obvious help anymore, has really brought out the Must. Do. Myself-feeling in abundance. In parts ridiculously so.

Independance is all good in general. But sometimes it also gets you stuck because once in a while you are not in a very practical way able to do it yourself. And then the seemingly insignificant things that are actually easily fixed can grow all out of proportion and laying themselves like heavy, wet blankets on your mind.

In the end I asked M's brother and he was happy to help. Which kind of surprised me given the aftermath and strange and unfair behaviour after M's passing... But I'm grateful for it and it felt incredibly good to get this done and removed from my back garden, from my life. That rubbish was so much connected with anger, resentment, sorrow and abandonement. Be gone.

And yes I'm still very much clueless, angry and sad that M's family - of which I'm apparently not considered a part after +26 years together... - have continously ignored my feelings and what M would have wished for me, kept me out of the loop. He would of course never ever have left me without a reasonable financial stability. 

The fact that I myself could have, should have made different choices now and then during all these years doesn't really help now. It only serves as a very important life lesson and promise to myself never to let that happen again. Which isn't as 'only', just not a practical solution here and now.

And even if there are a lot of exciting, promising things happening now, by my own doing, it would be such an incredible relief having that buffert sorted already. Garbages bags gone. Worries not yet. 


Friday was also the last day I had to take the replacement bus home. I celebrated that with a soy latte. And on the last little bit of regular bus ride from the station I noticed that that bus was a brand new biodiesel bus with both clever little smartphone chargers as well as free wifi. Better late than never, that's awesome. 


Then coming home to this sight is also soothing for the soul and mind. Cats, the poster beings for mindfullness and the everything will be alright-attitude. I'm blessed to be seriously surrounded by that.

Thank you for giving me such
a generally great first week
of your month, August, please
continue to be kind and awesome,
yours gratefully P.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

mr/s frog 2016


'She's behind me, isn't she?'

Same procedure as last year (and the years before that) - unwanted feline attention for Mr/s Frog 2016.


Thursday, July 28, 2016

the forceful wake-up call


Over these past summer weeks of intensive thinking (like intense workout, only you don't use your limbs as much and still get exhausted) I've realised that sometimes, even for an avid writer like myself, you need more of talking than writing (!).

And the more you think. And talk. And don't write, the less inclined you are to write. And for every idea and thought I don't put to *paper* the higher my own quality demands on blog posts get. Thoughts like 'Is this really worth writing about? Can I, should I really share this too? Is this helpful, useful, inspiring enough?', when in fact it is my blog and I write what I want to. And life isn't always, obviously, happy and inspiring. At least not in the usual sense. A lifestyle blog - which to be honest sound so trivial, superficial, dimwitted and boring, but I suppose that's the closest I get describing the World According to me - really is about ups and downs, darkness and light and everything in between. It really doesn't have to be clever, in one way or the other, all the time. Life itself isn't.

We all go through really tough periods in our lives, heartaches and sorrows. Of course that will show in the way we interact with others. As it should. That's life. And perhaps we simply are our worst critics when it comes to the (invisible) demands of being upbeat, inspirational and light? And neither happiness nor sorrow lasts forever, at least not in that initial, intense, overwhelming way. But the latter needs a lot of work, of the think, talk, write kind.

And by doing that, the thoughts and words will repeat themselves many times until they are (reasonably) out of the system, in order to move on. Most likely also repeated over and over again in blog I suspect, different constellations of words, same thought process.

So what has happened since 20 days ago when I decided this will be a summer of thoughts and simple actions? And since I baked awesome vegan cookies? (have you tried them, did you enjoy?)

Surprisingly enough both very little and a lot, I would say.

  • One new thought that striked me this past week is that with this new financial situation, being dependent on just me, myself and I, with lack of the stability that comes from being in a partnership, it actually feels like I'm in my 20ies again, fresh from university, time to build up it all up again but now on my own. With three main differences - a) I'm 20 years older and no naive spring chicken anymore (well, I've probably never been that naive really), b) truckloads of experience both professionally and emotionally and c) grown up responsabilities like a house filled with cats and bills to pay. 


This realisation that I'm kind of thrown back to my twenties but in a new life-suit was kind of an aha-experience. And the crazy thing is that it's not only scary, even if it really is, but also quite exilirating. Empowering actually. Forcing me to both be active as well as having faith that things will be alright again, in new, different and in the end very good ways.

  • Still really bummed that I've been done out for a summer in my city because of the commuter train/bus debacle, but at the same time I've had this plethora of hours to really think. On a blanket, on the grass, in the garden, in the sun or the shadow, with furry critters. And reading quite a few books I've related a lot too (it's indeed strange how all of them have resonated lots in my current situation without me actively chosing to read them because of that. They have simply appeared). I'm so happy for my house, for my garden, for the tykes. There have been not only good thoughts, but lots of honest and useful thoughts, going through options and solutions and strategies.


And the few times (limited to two occasions per week to keep my stress levels down) I've had meetups in the city I've treasured those moments all the more.

And guess what, now it's almost only one week left until the trains run as usual again! How awesome is that. I'm going to do the summer city like crazy, use my travel card and just walk around on my own, discover new areas, enjoying the change of scenery not having to stress out over the awful bus rides. Having lunches and coffees with friends coming back from summer holidays. Grab every inch of those 3,5 last weeks of summer. It's going to be great.

  • In mid July I had a second meeting with my new accountant, I dreaded it a bit because of the current financial status, but she continued to be really helpful, explaining the hows and the whys and calming my worries. This time it took me 3 hours one way though, so yay, basically 6 hours spent on buses only that day to get there and home. As nice as Norrtälje is to visit, it's much nicer when you can go by car and it takes about one hour. But the annual closing is done now so I don't have to think about our next meeting until next spring. 


  • Last week I was contacted by a London-based agency for a three weeks' gig as a social media manager for a well-known brand's Swedish social channels. We did actually agree on the hourly fees - which is a surprise given that I've been contacted by so many London-based agencies as a freelancer and they have always, always offered offensively low fees, compared to what I've been offered from agencies in other countries and compared to the hourly rates I work for in Sweden, that I've until now declined. Being a freelancer not a serf, you know. - so I'm now working my first fun week of that.


I really enjoy working as a social media manager, but I'm not sure I'd enjoy it as much if it was full-time or for an infinite time. The strategies are already set, you are much more constrained than you can imagine and you're basically an obedient tool. That said I do enjoy getting a peak view of different brands' approaches to social media, how very different their strategies can be, how more or less efficient everything is organised, how hierarchically business are run in some countries compared to others. 

  • Got a call about one of the jobs I've applied for a while back - one I stumbled over in a Facebook group I rarely visit - and we've set up a meeting after the holidays ie August 28, for a job that starts early September. I would of course loved to have had that interview next week already, but well, glad I got that call at all of course! It's a 50% communicator maternity leave cover for 10ish months, two train stations away and I would absolutely love getting the job. It would be a great opportunity to do some good, meet new people (but not having to grind with them 9-5 five days a week), get an interesting, professionally useful experience, get the bills paid, save up and at the same time give me 50% to continue running my own business. Not to mention it's in the opposite direction of the rush hours into the city, farther out at the end station of my line so I don't have to stress about the rush hours either. Seems perfect really. Fingers, toes and paws crossed.


Overall, despite sadness and worries, ups and downs from one day to another, I feel like I'm in a good flow right now. The Zone even. I'm so grateful for that and I do hope the flow will continue to be generous with its sprinkles of real goodness.

The sudden, shocking passing of M has been a really sad wake-up call, forcing me to address life changes I know (and knew) I really needed to make even before. I feel I'm quite a few steps down the road of redefining myself already. I just wish these necessary life changes had happened under less heartbreaking circumstances. But at the same time I accept that perhaps something as tragic and drastic as the death of someone very important in my life was the wake-up call I needed to go through with these necessary changes. When you aren't brave enough to make those changes on your own, life has a tendency to abruptly force you to make them. The realisation of that doesn't lessen the sorrow per se, but it does make me accept it, working for and being open to a new life. A great one to come.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

vegan hallongrottor cookies


These simple cookies are a classic Swedish bake which is originally called 'hallongrottor' (ie 'raspberry caves'), and not thumbprint cookies as they are commonly known as abroad. To be honest I've never been a great fan, they're a bit granny-ish, not very exciting and difficult to get just right in texture if you (like me) prefer them a bit chewy.


However, after discovering there is now a liquid dairy free butter available that doesn't contain palm-oil (!) I felt I had to try a bit of baking with it. And simple cookies with few ingredients would be the perfect choice. So I made these. And I was surprised at how easy they was to make and how adorable they turned out. Not chewy alas, but still quite nice with a cup of tea and a good book.


The original flavour is vanilla, but I tried making them in a chocolate version too. But I have to say that the usual match made in heaven combo of chocolate and raspberries wasn't a hit.


Hallongrottor
~30 cookies

200 g dairy-free liquid butter (I used the one from Coop)
1 dl caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla sugar
4,5 dl white flour
raspberry jam (I love the jam from ICA, so much raspberry flavour)


(if you want to make them in chocolate add 1 tbsp cacao)

Set the oven to 175C.

Whisk the butter, sugar and vanilla sugar (and cacao) together. Then add the flour and gently whisk together into a smooth dough. 

Roll them into ~30 small balls on a baking-plate with baking sheet. Use your thumb to imprint a small 'cave' and fill them with a dollop of raspberry jam (about 0,5 tsp per cookie).

Bake them for around 12 minutes. Let them cool on sheet. Enjoy! Freeze well too.

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