Friday, February 27, 2009

Roses for everybody

This time of year, when spring comes closer but is still far away,
it seems impossible that nature will flower like this again.
But be sure, it will be just as nice the coming summer too. Bring it on!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Fragile beauty

I finally got some of my photos from the Chihuly glass sculpture exhibit at The New York Botanical Garden uploaded to my Flickr account. It was amazing what they had managed to make out of glass. This reminds me of spring, I can't stop thinking about that soon there will be no snow, cold, brown and mud anymore (yeah right, I can hear PP saying now :).

Everyday is National Cat Day!

At least at our house... We have all been small once (Alla har vi varit små). Smokey too. Photo by OK about three years ago.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Heads up! Time to get planning...

March 1 is National Pig Day! (in the United States, I am not sure if Sweden has an official 'Grisarnas Dag')

Some possible ways to celebrate:

Friday, February 20, 2009

Film is dead?

New FILM from Kodak

Press release from Kodak, yes Kodak, remember them, they make film.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Car helmet from 1969

Graciously borrowed from a swedish blogg

On the same site it claims that it was worse to use one than to be without, the helmet were so heavy that you could break the neck in a car crash. Not much protection.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

SAAB in crisis-memories of SAABs I´ve known

The car brand SAAB is for sale, GM motors are kicking out Swedens pride, the SAAB cars, of their imperium. (Of course, in Sweden we make Volvo´s as well, but that's not the issue here.)

I grew up in a SAAB, actually several, but the one I travelled the most in was probably our rust-red SAAB 95 combi. It looked much like the one on this photo on the site

We travelled around in Sweden in this car , 2 adults, 3 kids and a dog or 2. And a caravan after it. Sometimes even with a canoe on the roof.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Swedish-Asian New York

The day after AREA's 15th birthday she and I spent in New York. We went to our favorite handmade soap store - LUSH - and splurged on fantastic scents and suds. They have stores in Sweden too, and you should try this brand out. We are never going back to the supermarket brandname soaps. AREA got some clothes are the Swedish favorite H&M (cheap and popular here). We had lunch at the great Thai restaurant Republic. I wonder how many non-Swedes know that H&M comes from the names "Hennes & Mauritz".

At Republic I had milky hot cardamom tea, the orange drink in the photo below, and lemongrass noodle soup with scallion, chicken, and cilantro. AREA had pad thai which also was great but the photo didn't come out good. The restaurant has no chairs, only long tables with backless benches, so at first it feels very different. Great photo art on the walls, and exceptional food.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


It is so fun to paint with soft pastell. This is my latest picture. The paper has a sanded surface and is Wallis professional Grade pastellpaper. It is a great feeling to paint on this paper.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Spring is in the air!

A favorite Obama quote from this week:
"But let’s not make the perfect the enemy of the essential. "

Spring news from Surdegsberget: Red-winged blackbirds arrived this morning together with some grackles. OACHIII - that is how they sound.


This is the map of snowdepth in Sweden right now. It´s unfair we have only ½ a centimeter snow in Södertälje! I rather have real winter, than this, non -winter weather we have. Coastal climate... But more than anything else I long for spring! Can somebody post spring pictures for me please?

Swedish saying; untranslatable; Hellre gå på is och ha det glatt, än att gå i lera och sörja!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Old things

Travel in North A Swedish photographer on Flickr (hagerstenguy) is uploading a vast array of nostalgia photos, advertising and postcards, as well as contemporary art and photography. Some are really great - like these. I am not sure which of the contemporary photos that are is own work, and which that are borrowed or photographed from other works.

Imploded or exploded pasta?

Better than Coca-Cola, by far.

Spring is in the air!

And it is early February. One day freezing cold with snow everywhere, and the next it is 15 degrees Celsius and feels like May. There will be winter backlash, I am sure, but this is nice!

flowering dogwoods in sun
(flowering dogwood, photo by LS)


Chopping sticks and tender loins in China

Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper- a sweet-sour memoir of eating in China by Fuchsia Dunlop.
This is one of the best books I have read about China, in my whole life. It is really a memoir about the author's escapades in China's kitchens and restaurants, but it is also so much more. The author, Fuchsia Dunlop, starts with her first visit to China, where she after a few months end up as the first foreigner in the chef's school in Chengdu, Sichuan province. Her fascination with the Chinese foods are truly contagious. Duck, tendon, dumplings, spicy peppers, soy sauce, all is described in exquisite prose and vivid words. It is very personal, but also very easy to relate to. Fuchsia is not afraid of showing her opinions about politics and environmental disasters, and as the author of a 'revolutionary cookbook' and someone that has eaten many endangered species through her time in China, she battles with her guilty conscience as well as local politicians and bureaucracy.

The book is a fantastic introduction to the Chinese culture. Aside from the food, and a few recipes too, she tackles everything from traveling undercover to areas closed to foreigners, the disdain for Western food as well as the love for it by the Chinese people (apple pie is strange, McDonald's is OK), the influence of history and famine on food culture, and the economic boom in the last 15 years and its environmental and food consequences.

Her love of China and Chinese food seeps from the pages, and it makes me want to visit some of the more remote parts. I also want to find a restaurant close to us that make real Chinese food, not the Americanized hodge-podge most serve.

Some excerpts:
"Learning another cuisine is like learning a language. In the beginning, you know nothing about its most basic rules of grammar. You experience it as a flood of words, or dishes, without system or structure."

"By all accounts, Mao remained a Hunanese peasant in his eating habits to the end of his life. He was addicted to spicy food, and famously told a Soviet envoy that you couldn't be a revolutionary if you didn't eat chilies." (yeah - vodka belt meets fiery chilies!)

"The Chinese do seem to eat everything, one must admit. But in a sense they are just a distorting mirror, magnifying the voracity of the entire human race."

Swedish Chinese food is even worse, at least it was in the 90s. It was the same everywhere: 4 kinds of sauces (brown, white, sweet & sour, spicy), 4 kinds of protein (chicken, beef, pork, shrimp), and a variety of vegetables (mushrooms, pineapple, green beens, broccoli, tomatoes, baby corn, bamboo shoot). The menus was just different combinations on this, like Beef with Tomatoes (very unchinese), Chicken with Green beans, Shrimp with broccoli - all with the nondescript brown sauce. I liked this kind of food, but it probably isn't very Chinese. And the constantly available lunch offering "Fyra Små Rätter" (=Four small dishes), which is never served in the US. Four small dishes for lunch, like this one at Restaurang Peking in Trollbäcken: Deepfried jumbo shrimp with sweet and sour sauce (Friterade stora räkor med sötsur sås), deepfried pork with sweet and sour sauce ( Friterad fläskfilé med sötsur sås), chicken with currysauce and vegetables (Kycklingfilé med currysås och grönsaker), and beef with bamboo shoots (Biff med bambuskott). 89 Swedish crowns, I think that is about $12 now. Wow, this restaurant also serves Shark Fin soup, Hajfensoppa, and the menu certainly has more items than a regular Chinese restaurant in Sweden in the 1990s.

When I moved to the US and saw my first menu in the take out restaurant I had no idea what to order. There certainly wasn't any Beef with Tomatoes. Egg Foo Young - what is that? Moo Shu Pork? Not even the Chicken with Green Beans tasted like the dishes in Stockholm. I liked the Americanized Chinese food better, not so sweet and more spicy. Garlic Eggplant, yum. Duck rolls! And now I think I am ready for the real thing, as long as there is no tripe (intestines), tendons, or endangered species in it. I could eat a snake, that doesn't bother me, but I wouldn't eat brain or kidneys. I'll just stick with muscle meat I think.

Now I am going to let a friend borrow my copy of this book; she is from China and I would love to know what she thinks about it. It is a marvelous book, read it.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

I miss summer

It is snowing again today, and so far we have had an unusually white and cold winter. Nice, but I am starting to miss spring and summer!

sunflower 2

Monday, February 2, 2009

We live in strange times, when family time has to be scheduled..

From a recent newsletter from the school district and township we live in:

What does Night Off mean?
It means a community-wide observance of the importance of family by taking the night off from
regularly scheduled commitments. The schools, township, houses of worship, scouts, and
various community organizations agree to a night without meetings, practices, games,
rehearsals, and homework on March 3rd.

Each family decides how they wish to recognize the importance of family. A family can
participate in a wide range of activities such as eating dinner together, playing board games or musical instruments, going skating or to a movie, or attending a sporting event, just to name a

Why? To encourage and promote quality family time." {My bold italics}

My questions -
For us that have family night most nights of the week, do we get the night off to do something without our families? Can we have a Night On?

They need to schedule a night so families can eat dinner together? Other families must not be like ours. We eat dinner together every night. But I already knew we were the exception, this announcement just puts it on paper so it becomes the truth.

What qualifies as quality family time? Three hours one night out of 365 days? This reeks of Big Brother mentality. "We will schedule your quality time, from 6.05 PM to 8.34 PM on a Tuesday in March." Or do they really think people have to be taught how to get together as families? Probably, yes.

I find the whole thing depressing. Here are some more real things for families to do together, any day of the year: turn off the TV, take a hike, plant some seeds, compost your green stuff, carry firewood, photograph a sunset, draw a faucet, cook a meal, paint a door, make a cookie, build a bird house, chop some rose bushes, build a fire, smoke some bacon, listen to old stories, blog your thoughts, discuss black holes and infinity, pet a cat, donate some books, go to the library, write a letter, design some ear rings,l watch George Carlin on Youtube about cats and dogs.... (note how none of these costs any money and don't involve commercial things you have to travel to like movie theaters, skating rinks, sports events, etc.).

So, is this an issue in Sweden? Do people have to be taught how to have quality family time over there?