Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Is it a UFO - or not?

My dear, dear capital Stockholm sure is both fantastic and exciting, in many ways. One might even sight a UFO on a cold winter evening.

It was pretty neat to have the camera handy I must say. I never did see where exactly, if at all, it did land though. Perhaps you did?

Monday, January 29, 2007

Countdown to sun

Can't help but musing over the fact than in about a week I'll be sitting somewhere on a very warm and sunny beach sipping something like this to the right...

And what's the fun with musing if you can't share the fact that in one week I'll be having fun in the sun whilst others just have to do with fun in the snow - and cold.

Since it was a bit of sort of impossible to find bikinishorts in the Stockholmian shops this time of year - hey, haven't you heard of winter holidays to the sun? - I had to try the emergency thing with buying them online.

The model/colour/pattern seemed to good to be true - I hope they're good enough irl... And I sure hope they'll get here in time too - a bit silly if they don't.

Another thing I hope will get here in time before we leave is my new present - which also helps support the fight against aids in Africa - a bright red iPod nano.

I'm not really keen on the iPod design itself, but well, it's both for a global good cause AND a Pia good cause - so I don't have to bring with me a bunch of CD:s and a player on holiday, again.

If you want to both listen and do good, or do even more good, read more about the Global fund and Red here.

I have managed - I think - to compact down the luggage I'm bringing, but the big question(s) still remaining unanswered is whether to bring one handbag or two, and if so which one or two? The opinions on that highly important matter varies.

Yeah, I know, going on a safari doesn't acquire any stylish handbag. And not the hanging out at the beach either. But I suppose there'll be a bit of hanging out in a city or two too, and a bit of shopping. And well, one wouldn't want to be totally without style, right?

The question(s) remains... One or two, which one or two... To be continued.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Plastic fantastic

I'm flying solo this weekend - M is out and about at some weekend-party with his company since they celebrate... is it 30, 40, 50 year's anniversary? Well, something like that anyway

- there's a hint of my overwhelming interest in all matters concerning that strangely sect-like company. The sect-thing about it somehow only seems to bother women and not the men attached in different ways to that company. At least they don't see that clearly until they have broken their attachment...

But that was just a parenthesis, the sect-like workplace of M, what I was going to write about was this amazing little - or not as little - tea-strainer from Koziol. This is a limited edition with a high glamour factor. I chose the red/gold one, but among different colours there was a very nice one in lilac/gold too.

I had great plans about just lying on the sofa and watching movies all weekend - and a bit of cleaning up I might just add to those plans too... - and sipping buckets of tea that had been soaked with this glamour-tea-strainer of mine.

And rekindle my friendship with Brideshead revisited, The Draughtman's contract, Pride & Prejudice and Orlando - but somehow time has a tendency to fly and I'm not, so there hasn't been a lot of moviewatching and teasipping going on, yet.

Another drawback is the fact that it turned out that most of the tea in tins had gone bad and there wasn't much of taste left in them. So I just have to do with the old, reliable teabags. Equally good but the weekend glam-factor isn't very high.

But I've been a good little baker and baked some rather nice sunflowerseed-cookies - never mind more than half the batch were forgotten in the oven and went sort of really, very well done... But the good ones go very nicely with a teabag or two... or more.

My newly found tea-strainer also goes really well with something else than tea. Another great Koziol item, my hot pink Spring flowerpot from last year. Love it or hate it kind of thing, and I just love it! Also the fact that it's a vintage model, that was originally created back in 1971, makes it a bit more special.

I think the German brand Koziol is fascinating, it actually started in the beginning of the 1900 and ever since then they've come up with funky, cool, stylish - more or less, mostly on the edge of kitsch I suppose - modern things for the home. I also like the company's way of updating their own vintage models and make a new one, often with a bit more ompf and colour. Yes, actually plastic can be fantastic!

Friday, January 26, 2007

The perfect civil servant

Everyone needs a civil servant of their own, this is mine. And he'll be happy to carry a mitten or two.

Because what's the use of wearing them on your hands when they fit so perfectly in the jaws of that equally perfect civil servant in a fur coat?

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Snow, snow, snow - sun, sun, sun

Yes I do think a Swedish winter should consist of lots and lots of snow and cold weather teamed up with crispy winter sun. And yes I do enjoy the fact that we now, finally got that this winter season.

But still, can't help but muse about the fact than in less than two weeks we'll enjoy sunny beaches, great food, exotic animals and fun shopping... Bliss for a cold Nordic body and soul!

Pics are from my very own - sort of - commutertrain-station/bus stop.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Afternoon tea - again

One of many, many things in Britain I do love dearly is the traditional afternoon tea. It's difficult to find just the thing here in Sweden though - if you don't make it yourself. And of course it has to be cream tea, not necessarily with clotted cream, whipped cream is often tastier, in my humble opinion.

Today Anne and I went to Sheraton hotel's Lobby bar for afternoon tea. Served daily form 15-17 o'clock. For the price of 110 SEK you'll get a pot of tea and a buffét with scones, sandwiches, pastries and cookies.

The bar is actually voted one of the 40 best hotel bars in the world by the American business site I don't know if that's true, but it was kind of cosy with big armchairs to snuggle up in and a sort of artsy openfire-installation close by.

The cucumber sandwiches were really good, the scones rather dry - what better to hide that with than whipped cream? -, I wish they would serve strawberry and/or rasberry jam instead of blueberry jam and orange marmelade with cream tea in Sweden too. Actually I think there should be a law on that! The pastries was a bit boring, dry and not very tasty except for the strawberry (?) mousse. The cakes we didn't tasted.

All and all, quite alright, but still far from really good. Vetekatten is both good value moneywise and tasty, Chaikhana teahouse is simply luxurious (best tea ever, in Stockholm!) and very yummy. And then we have that little hidden gem of Skafferiet i Hamnen in Gustavsberg (from where the picture is, last Spring).

Monday, January 22, 2007

The search for the ultimate skincare-products

One of my passions - if that's the correct choice of word for it or not, well that's another topic... - is looking for and trying out new and interesting skincare-products. And haircare dito. And perfumes. I'm not really sure when in life this passion occured, probably somewhere in my late teens I suppose.

Anyway, browsing through magazines, Internet and the most fun thing of them all, stores and boutiques abroud is something I really, REALLY like to do!!

Yes, in my early twenties I was a fanatic when it came to makeup too, especially products creating a flawless skin and lipsticks. But with age comes, hopefully, wisdom, and I realised it's far more useful in the long run, to care for the skin underneath all that makeup - so you don't have to use it. At least not that in that Dallas-look-kind-of-way.

In my, it seems, endless search for that ultimate skincare-products I have found some favourites along the way. Some of them still exists, some don't - the skincare-product industry's way of keeping the search endless perhaps...?

But there are two products I've sadly so far never found anything remotely resembling the ultimate ones; mascara and facial cream (day and/or night). Well, the ultimate mascara I had in the 80ies, its was something as simple as the Swedish brand Pierre Robert's cake-mascara (you know the one where you had to mix the dry mascara-cake with water - absolutely not saliva! - and the brush it on the eyelashes. W-o-w, that was really the wonder-effect you want, and the thing today's deceptive commercials can't fulfill. The search goes on...

Since Kiehl's now also has it's very own store in Stockholm - and not a day too soon! - I just had to invest in a new facial cream there the other day. A store of lovely, typically Kiehl's design and I must say I found the store clerk really obliging and fun - when I told her about the upcoming holiday (for which I bought a sun protection lotion) I got loads of samples and travelsize products to try out then.

And I also bought the famous Creme de Corps - which I'd only sampled before. And oh yes, it's GREAT, after only having tried it once the skin is so much softer!! My dry, dull Winter-skin is so much happier!

I do hope the facial cream turns out to be all that too - imagine yet another search which has then come to an end...

And yes, of course I'll return to the Kiehl's store, non-animal tested products, great service and quite alright prices in SEK. I promised to come back and show off my tan anyway, which I hopefull will get in som weeks - can't wait for all that sun-therapy!!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Recipe: Potatoe au gratin with carrots

This is a very basic, simple and oh so tasty side dish that's easy to put a personal touch to. Just substitute the vegetables, herbs and cheese for your favourites. Goes perfectly with some vegetarian food such as veggie balls, veggie sausages or halloumi.

Potatoe au gratin with carrots

Serve 4 people

900 g potatoes/carrots
1 yellow onion
1-2 dl cheese of choice (for example Dutch Edam)
3 dl milk or lowfat cream (mix the amount after your own liking)
salt & pepper
(a hint of nutmeg)
(cloves of garlic)

Preheat the oven to 225 ° C.

Peel and slice the potatoes, carrots and onion. Grate the cheese. Preferably in a food processor for a fast and even result. Butter an ovensafe tin, spread the sliced vegetables and the grated cheese in the tin. Don’t forget the spices. The top layer should be cheese. Pour the milk/cream on top of it all.

Put it in the oven for about 50 minutes or until the vegetables are done.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

I go nuts

Now and then during these past weeks, well nearly a month now - it's hard to believe I haven't left the house or it's nearby surroundings but once since December 15th. And that was when I went to the doctor's on Dec 27th. I wonder how it is out there, in the real world...? -

I have actually manage to produce some very tasty food. And since I'm sort of rather picky when it comes to that, and perhaps even more so when I make it myself, it must be darn good! How about this delicious nut and gingerbread pie that we enjoyed around New year's. With some whipped cream and fresh strawberries... I went nuts!

Now I'm contemplating a rather intriguing jewellery-order I got, of a set of matching earrings and ring in bluecream/white colour plus with cats. It's easier said than done to find the right colour, the right combination of stones and pearls, the right look...

I'm sure I would be far more inspired if I could get a slice of that nutty-heaven in the picture - alas I can't, I just have to rely upon my very own inspiration and ideas...

Thursday, January 11, 2007

First snow of the year

During the night some snow actually fell and if you happen to live in the northern parts of Stockholm you woke up to a white world this Thursday morning in early January of 2007 - this year's first snow!

Just as the Spring-feelings had begun to show, with more or less hesitant little buds here and there. I do hope they'll survive this touch of snow, touch of evil cold, ready to crush that tender, eager hope of warmer days.

Oh it's nearly unbearable to think about really, perhaps one has to soak those thoughts in something that makes one warm from inside out.

Perhaps a little, or more, taste of homemade, absolutely delicious (if I may say so myself) mulled saffron and spice wine (glögg). With scalded almonds and raisins - oh yes, that's the perfect way to forget those troublesome days of little, tiny, tender buds of Spring in January.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Weekend cat blogging - Agnes & Rutger

The past week has brought both sadness and good news catwise.

First my beautiful darling Agnes (left) got an uterus inflammation and had to be neutered. Alas there went all the hopes and plans for kittens after her lost forever. Fortunately she's doing well and absolutely demands a lot of cuddling and rubbing that poor tummy of hers.

Second, her uncle Rutger (right) became a proud father for the first time with Glinda (also to the right) over at Anne's food . I'm not sure he fully understands his achievement... Well done I say anyway and welcome to the world, you four furry cuties!

And on the ears of Pia-front - no news, still aching, still half deaf and still feeling like crap. Hopefully I'll find a specialist doctor for my poor ears this week. It's so totally depressing and more than enough to drive me crazy - if I already wasn't...

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Ungrateful pets & their amazing presents

Christmas or birthday, why of course, the household pet(s) should also get something in the way of a gift or two! It's especially fun when you stumble over something really nice designwise - like a FatBoy.

And with FatBoy I certainly don't mean the motor-driven toy that middle-aged men, longing for that long lost youth, like to feel between their legs... You know, that precious shining object on two wheels.

In took a while before we could decide if it was a good present for a small sized dog with friends or not. And then the colour/pattern was a bit of an issue (I still ponder over the fact that they don't make it in that lovely Marimekko-flowerprint for cats and dogs...).

In the end a red one it was. "Hidden" in the bathroom up until Christmas eve. Oh what joy wouldn't that bring to a small sized dog's eyes!

Eh, not, with capital letters, NO NO NO, it's too slippery, to stylish, too much of an effort. I do prefer to cuddle up on an old, stinky sofa cushion, or a simple blanket or in the sofa or bed if someone could please put me up there, said the small sized dog. With a very convinced look in his eyes.

I pose once, but never again, said the utterly ungrateful small sized dog, giving the photographer the evil eye.

Ah, those ungrateful pets and their amazing presents!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Being a vegetarian (and a recipe)

I've been a vegetarian for over 20 years now - yes it's scary how time flies... I wouldn't call myself a hobby-vegetarian, but yes I do have to admit I cheat with some types of fish and seafood sometimes. Not very often, and more and more seldom.

I'm a firm believer in the words that what you eat you should also be able to kill. If you can't slaughter an animal, well you shouldn't eat it either. Simple as that. And even if I could kill for a nice dessert, I would never ever be able to kill an animal for the sake of my tastebuds.

Of course the world would be a much nicer - and healthier! - place if every human would be a vegetarian and respect every life on earth and its right not to end up on a plate. But alas, that's probably just an utopia...

I rarely preach the vegetarian word as such, somehow meat-eaters tend to find the very idea of vegetarian food and ethics around that somehow offensive. And being a vegetarian-preaching woman everytime we eat, well for some reason that would probably make it a bit hard to remain friends with those meateating dear friends I have...

"Oh I wouldn't be able to... It's just so tasty..." - but of course you would be able to. It's just a figment of your meat-eating mind that makes you so firmly believe you wouldn't be able to live without that murdering meat. And I'm absolutely certain you would be a healthier you too, without dead animals floating around in your veins (ah isn't that a fantastic picture to feast on...?).

I was able to, I even talked my meat-eating parents into the only sensible way to eat, yes in the end I just couldn't stand the way humans treat animals as yes, just meat. In my mind it's a a horrific behaviour and it do make me feel sick when I watch friends and relatives feast on what was once a live and hopefully happy-go-lucky animal. Before it ended up in the meat-wagon and the slaughterhouse.

And yes, I do like a luxuary handbag now and then (made of leather) and shoes (leather) - I have to work on behaviour...

And yes, of course, I feed my carnivore furry friends both canned and dry food containing meat.

Having said all that, being my honest opinion, not necessarily yours, I'll wrap it all up with a nice, simple vegetarian recipe. One of my favourite, and such a versatile one, source of protein is that fantastic English "invention" of quorn.

One simple dish to make of quorn is to marinate it in Caribbean jerk seasoning, mix it to a sallad with bulgur or some other nice rice substitute or pasta of your liking. Add some lovely, colourful vegetables such as carrots, broccoli, tomatoes, grilled red onion, squash, paprika, corn, garlic... The only limit to what's suitable is your own imagination. Sprinkle some roasted sunflowerseeds on top of it all. Enjoy with some nice dressing or oil.

Monday, January 01, 2007

The first day of the new year 2007

I seem to have no inspiration for writing - and it's a nice English thriller on TV in just a moment... - but still feel I do have to write something here on this first day of this very new year...

Well since a picture says more than a thousand words - here's one with only a few words to it, but still it symbolizes that we all (two and fourlegged) really are one. That everybody hurt, sometime.

So let's keep that in mind for 2007 - and treat eachother with respect and kindness.

Peace & love!
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