Wednesday&What I’m into right now

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As much as I love Byredo candles, and will buy them again, for once I decided to try something new. Having seen Overose candles around I decided to splurge on one of them. They are not cheap because apparently making a decent scented candle that cost less than a pound of flesh is impossible but it’s worth it. We can get the “similar to Byredo look of the label” comment out-of-the-way immediately. I agree, it does look like one of theirs. This scent though is a lot more powdery then anything I have ever gotten from Ben Gorhams line. It smells like the inside of a posh Italian ladies handbag, and I mean that as the highest of compliments. I have a thing for that. On the box it mentiones amber, benzoin resin,labdanum, vanilla and sandal wood. Also it mentions Himalyan Spikenard and I don’t even know what that is but it sounds cool.  I once had a candle from Caffé Florian in Venice that smelled like this (or maybe it was a room spray?). I know I’ve had at least one candle that was similar and that one was a collaboration between a Swedish company and an artist that lives in Milan (I’m referring to Liselott Watkins). I should have stocked up on them. There is something about this candle that to me smells very sophisticated and un-Swedish. I find it very easy to pretend I’m elsewhere.

Another way to be transported to another place, and time, is obviously books. I’m currently reading Gengis Khan by Frank McLynn and I’m really enjoying it. I don’t think that he always strikes the balance between detail and flow in the way I would have liked but who am I to judge? I don’t write books and I give people too much detail always. The point is: of course Gengis Khan is not the brute that we kind of imagine being uninformed about that period in history, and certain people within the Chinese history have done a good job of telling the story of how the were occupied by uncivilized horsemen (they would do that, wouldn’t they? I get that). But in this case there is more to the story. That said he was not a peaceful ruler by any measure. I’m just saying that everyone back then was savage AF quite literally. There is another connection to the smell of an old Italian Ladies handbag, or at least to Caffé Florian, as Marco Polo turns up. That old Venitian scoundrel.

The cover of this book is a beaut, all glam and disco. I’ve already matched it with one outfit. Maybe I should play that old disco tune Gengis Khan by whoever that they play on radio sometimes?  For a full on thematic reading I mean. (This is the one I’m talking about, and no, I won’t play it). However I also have matching earrings now as I got stuck with part of  one in my scarf and long story short, my Bollywood earring bought in Bethnal Green for 50p have now become somewhat smaller but hopefully a little more wearable. We’ll see though because even though I changed the part that goes in the actual earlobe when I got them I can feel it itching when I’ve worn them for 10 minutes.

The reason that I was wearing them in the first place is because I’ve been watching the Mindy Project and I.am.hooked. It is the perfect antidote to all the sad books and as an added bonus Kaling wears patterns and amazing earring like a boss in that show. In fact she is one of the bosses, if you run your own business or part of it you get to decided the dress code. But it’s a show with fast talking people who are obsessed with junk food, alcohol and revel in being inappropriate. And in all of that every now and a again there is a little nugget to think about in terms of feminism, relations,friendships etc. I think that maybe it has a little of what made Gilmore Girls so popular but I have never really watched that show so I don’t know. Maybe it’s just that people drink reasonable amounts of coffee in both (i.e. by the bucket).

Related:

Overose candles 

-Suss

 

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7 things for the gift drawer

The gift drawer is a clever invention. I cannot credit who came up with the idea or how I came to have one. But I do, and I went through it yesterday to see what I had and what I needed to restock.

What is it then? Exactly what it sounds like. A drawer (or in my case, a box) full of little things that make good gifts, the kind of thing it’s good to have around when you forget birthdays until the same day, someone gets a promotion, name days (a certain easter influence in my life and to some select people this matters) and something to give to the host and hostess if should, against all odds, be invited to dine at someone else’s house. Nothing very personal or grand but just thoughtful knick-knacks. Some are better at the art of the gift drawer then I but these are the kind of things I try to keep on hand.

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  1. Hand creams. Look at any gift guide around Christmas and invariably hand creams are included as “stocking-stuffers” or for cases of secret Santa, and with good reason. They are useful and nowadays there are many that smell rather unisex so they can be given to men to. They need them just as much. I like the ones from Other Stories, especially the one called “Moroccan tea”. The scent is a hit with pretty much everyone.
  2. Fans. I’ve spoken about these before (in fact I may have written this whole post before). Usually found in Asian supermarkets but is also a great thing to stock up on trips. Such a good thing to in the handbag but people rarely think about them, until I give them one and totally change their lives.
  3. Books, poetry in particular. I no longer lend books because I’ve lost a few ones I really loved and having to nag to get them back is the worst. And it’s always the books I love and get excited about that I loose. So inspired by my friend Van I now by nice copies of books I love plus Penguin little black classics so that I have a few things to give away if I want people to read it. There has to be a certain trade-off between how likely it is that they have read it already and if they want to. But lucky for me I love non-fiction on diverse subjects and many of those are suitable for a surprising amount of people. I will start buying A time of gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor in bulk as it is a brilliant book that touches on many subjects and thus makes a great gift. Little books of poetry are also great gifts as it is the kind of thing that people don’t often buy for themselves and it takes up no room if they don’t read it.
  4. Notebooks. And pens. It’s a truth universally acknowledged that everyone loves notebooks. Moleskins can even get men excited. Not everyone uses them but they love them. Lacroix makes ridiculous notebooks that I think that everyone should have, this is something I picked up I don’t know where. But it says “Kitchen notes” on it so I might give it to someone who likes to cook. This is also a good thing to stock up on when traveling. IMG_4189
  5. Nice bags for toiletries, shoes etc. There are so many tote bags with funny things printed on the side that I don’t know where to start. And we should all reduce our use of plastic bags so give someone the gift of helping them reduce environmental degradation, and be organized when doing it.
  6. Stirring glasses. As I’ve mentioned before I buy nice stirring glasses when I find them in antique shops and at flea markets. They make excellent gifts and can in addition be used as decoration or vases.
  7. A nice set of playing cards. Or a Yatzy. Or the classic Swedish game “Throw the pig”. Cheap and fun. Everyone loves to have one of these around.

What gifts do you find yourself buying over and over again for people?

-Suss

Monday&Monster&Mint

I did some gardening yesterday. Yeah, I know; not my forte. But I have managed to keep a few well-chosen things alive over the years.

Herbs was my entry and the reason is very simple; I like to have fresh herbs around and thus I have an incentive to remember to water them. And it has worked. During summer I sort of cheat and plant them on masse in my window boxes which;

a) looks very nice and verdant (as I’ve pointed out before. Herbs are the lazy gardeners friend, some more than others)

b) means that they take care of themselves a bit as rain is a frequent occurrence in these parts all year around. And should they dry up they are still kind of useable in the kitchen for a while and besides, I haven’t spent a fortune on them to begin with. Valar morgulis or whatever.

From herbs I graduated to pelargoniums, orchids and of late a monstera. Pelargoniums are fairly easy to manage actually. They don’t need water that often and if they dry up that’s in fact a good thing, you are supposed to let them “rest” for a few months every year. I don’t always time it right, but mostly I manage. They come out when the balcony furniture gets taken out of the basement and go back there with them. Which is what I did yesterday. And as the night will soon be cold I repotted some of the herbs from the window box into pots that are now standing on the living room window sill. Hopefully they will let me pinch a few leaves for a few weeks more.

As I was at it I repotted my monstera. I wasn’t aware that it needed to be done just yet. But when I took it out of the samovar that I have been letting the pot rest in, there was a nest of roots that had grown through the small holes in the bottom. Looked like tentacles. A bit scary actually but I sorted it out. The new pot is to big for the samovar but hopefully the plant will have some space to grow.

The samovar, or broken samovar I should say, has been repurposed as a very show-y pot for an orchid. I don’t buy orchids, I get old ones that have bloomed out (or whatever it’s called) and only the leaves and the odd sad stalk remain. I have quite a few around the house now, slowly but surely gaining a reputation as a crazy orchid lady. I think, and I very alone in this, that they look rather nice and sculptural even when it’s just a few leaves. They are also able to draw moisture from the air so the ones in the bathroom and kitchen don’t even need to be watered. And probably because I neglect them, am not overly impressed by their blooms and don’t rate them as more elegant then my pelargoniums they are pissed of on occasion and decided to show me who is boss by blooming again something fierce. I game the hell out of orchids. However, I really wish people would stop it with those sticks to keep the stalk straight, it looks so sad. Especially when the stick is still there post-blooming.

I also just remembered that I have an aloe standing on one of the kitchen shelves. I had completely forgotten about it and I am happy to tell you that it has never looked better. Will thus continue to ignore it as that seems to be a winning strategy.

-Suss

Friday&Feed&phone

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In my search for serenity one of the biggest distraction and time-thieves needed to be addressed; my phone and all that is in it. These are the seven steps I took in order to organize all the digital clutter.

  1. Make sure that pics from phone are on my computer. Then deleted a lot of them. I take photos of everything and the person how showed me how to screen grab back in the day did me a disservice. Not really obviously, but it adds up quickly. So there was a purge, a creation of specific albums for certain things (pic of the hoover, the coffee filter packaging etc. so I know what to buy as I cannot remember all the specifics and I need it on hand) or pics that I want to show certain friends. Things that I want to keep has been downloaded to a USB-stick and I will have them developed. I actually do this from time to time and enjoy putting them into my photo album on a rainy night.
  2. Un-subscribe. I went through my mail and un-subscribed to a lot of things, mostly companies and such. Less mail means less to manage. I wasn’t sure why I was on all those lists to begin with.
  3. Un-followed. I went through the accounts I follow on Instagram and removed a few. Mostly they are accounts that are not related to books, and a few rude people, so that when I go on there it’s a joy to see what people are reading and partaking in that discussion. I might seem harsh but most things I un-followed are big corporations or big accounts that I don’t interact with anyways. I won’t be missed is what I’m saying.
  4. Created folders for apps and made sure the desktop in my phone is functional and rather clean. I’ve hidden apps that I don’t use that often, I’ve deleted a few (must not have Tetris on my phone if I want to get anything done). Should have done this ages ago. I’ve also put the Mindfulness-app front and center.
  5. Made a choice regarding podcasts. I have subscribed to a lot of podcasts over the year but I realized that there are only a handful that I really listen to. The rest mostly give me a guilty conscience (because everything does). So I sorted that out.
  6. Changed the background picture on my phone. New season, new me. I want my mind-palace to look like the cosy library on photo*, not like an episode from “Hoarders”, and it’s on my phone now as a gentle reminder. That pic puts me in a good mood really.
  7. Bought a new case for it. My old one was knackered and so I decided my phone needed new clothes for the season. I does make it easier to find in my bag. I could also do with a new protective screen as the current one is getting frayed at the edges. Considering how I treat my phone (dropped on stone floors, being thrown in my bag, used with greasy fingers) those extra glasses that you put on really are a necessity. Best 200 SEK I’ve spent probably. It’s saved me from having to, at a very high price, change the screen on my Iphone several times (again, dropped it on stone floors more then once because clumsy AF).

* I don’t know who to credit with this photo, found it in my phone. Probably a screen grab that I’ve edited. Lovely library.

-Suss

Wednesday & What I’ve ticked of that bloody list so far.

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So I did warn you that I’m on a detox of sorts, a vain attempt to deal with things in my life. The little things mind you, in general I’m still a gigantic failure. But at least I coming closer to having my stuff in order and then let us hope that it all becomes very freudian and that dealing with this is cathartic and that other things will fall into place as well. On my list of thirty things to do in September I have gotten these out of the way.

  1. Cleaned the bathroom. Sorely needed this one. I did a proper clean of the drain in both the zink and the shower. As I have long hair it tends to accumulate in there and if you hear that a strange new biohazard has been discovered in Sweden those nasty lumps are probably to blame. Having got rid of my little monster I cleared out the bathroom cabinet of all the useless hairbands, eye make-up that hasn’t been used for ages (thus festering with bacteria) and cleaned the make-up brushes. Brushes should be cleaned on a regular basis but I rarely use them nowadays: I rely on my fingers to apply make up and my hands are always clean (at least I have that). I’m running low on product so I’ve written little shopping list that I’ll get to in time but for now I don’t have to rummage around things that are useless to find the things that work. I also made a foray into the market for sustainable cleaning products and this one is good. I’ve tried a few in the past but they don’t get the job done. This one left both tiles and conscience clean.
  2. Defrosted the freezer and cleaned the fridge. This was another one that felt urgent. It’s not hard to do, just very time-consuming. But at least now it’s done and there is room in the freezer for ready-made meals (that I make myself. Mostly anyways) and there is nothing in the fridge that will make me sick. I hate throwing away food but a few of those pastes and condiments have been around since last year and probably aren’t safe to eat. Also bought three new containers for lunch, glass boxes with a plastic lid so I can bring food to work. Just doing this has made me feel healthier.
  3. Edited my shelves. There is no getting around the fact that my shelves are overflowing. I have come to the conclusion that there is no space for anything but books on there so the Foo dogs will have to be placed elsewhere, as have to the odd frame with a photo or collections of notebooks (I’ll save those in a nice box). It is also the case that I’m not so hung up on owning books in general any more, I just want the ones I love or use. So a few duplicates or books I will surely never read again will go to charity or friends. Lets be honest, I’ll never read The dice man again. I decided to be realistic about the TBR-pile too. Still there isn’t space enough on the shelves if I actually manage to read everything on the TBR. This is why I will remain loyal to the public libraries of Stockholm. All of the reading pleasure, none of the trying to fit them onto the shelves-hassle.
  4. Cleaned the bar cart and drew up a shopping list. As I blogged about yesterday it’s time to start restocking the bar. I will veer of track, famously so, and buy esoteric bitters, make infused vodkas and questionable syrups becasue I’m a cocktail nerd. But in theory I will work with the kind of spirits that are readily available so that my cocktails can be replicated by the masses. It’s high time people stopped trying to get drunk and concerned themselves with drinking well (accidental drunkenness is something all together different and I will tell you that a cocktail hangover is much more glamorous and bearable then one from wine. I haven’t had enough beer in my life to be hung over from it. My hypothesis is that it’s rather ghastly, much like drinking beer in the first place. But that’s just me).
  5. Taken care of the mess under the zink. Naturally the list would have been a lot shorter if I had just written “deal with the kitchen” as an item. However that would have taken a day in and of itself, and I’m not sure I would have gotten around to it. It’s like when you write “eat healthier” on a to-do list. That’s a statement and a goal, not a strategy or a realistic proposition. “Buy healthy snacks”, “make lunch boxes for three days this week” or “sign up for weekly delivery of organic fruit and vegetables” are the kind of things that written on a list helps you to achieve something. Break it down into manageable things and increase the probability of them happening is my way around this. Taking care of the mess under the zink was about a few trips to the recycling station (it’s not far but in bad weather it’s the worst so I took the chance when the sun was shining the other day). I’ve kind of been just skimming of the top of my recycling bin so that I can close the door. And then a special round to the place where old light bulbs,batteries and electronics are handed in for recycling. Then I scrubbed it out. It was a right mess the other week when I had to open up the water-lock to deal with the clogged drain and I could hardly get in there due to all the old packaging. I eat a lot of eggs apparently. I will try to think of a system to keep this more manageable in future.

-Suss

 

Friday&Failing at life

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Picture that I found in my phone. And inspirational poster of sorts, from i don’t know where.
I’m running out of umbrellas and tights (very necessary this time of year), there is a bit of the North Wall connecting my fridge and freezer (and there shouldn’t be) and I spend to much time every morning trying to find something to use to put up my hair ( and then I put hair bands with no elastic in them back into the bowl thus setting myself up for the same thing next morning).  The other week there was a clog in my kitchen zink.  I didn’t have time to deal with it for three days, the most disgusting thing ever. And as I finally got around to cleaning it (a nasty process that we don’t have to discuss in detail) I had to come to terms with the fact that;

a. I’m very short on time right now.

b. If I spent a little time on a few things I would save a lot of time in the end.

So I have now complied a list of thirty things that I need to do around the house in order to make my life easier and run a little smoother. Basically it’s the kind of thing that people do in January but I have always been more excited about the fall ,when everything gets back to normal after the holidays, then that month long bleak January with no money. This is the start of the year for me really.

I will try to do one thing a day, some take a lot of time (go through my closet) some are done rather quickly (get rid of books I don’t want to keep). A few of these things will probably make it unto the blog, so be prepared.

-Suss

Wednesday & Wrap-up

We are coming to the end of August and it’s time to wrap it up. I’m in the middle of a book which I probably won’t finish until the month is over so I’m doing it now.

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Books read; 11 books plus one short story. The three-body problem by Cixin Liu has been returned to the library and is thus not in the photo.

Best? Rereading Pride and Prejudice is always a treat, a much-needed balm on my soul. The mermaid and Mrs Hancock and The organized mind were other favorites that left me lots to think about.

Books to keep? Sleeping Giants isn’t mine so I will return that but otherwise it would have found a place on the shelf. I will however give away Homo Deus, In order to live by Yeomin Park and both the Keplers to charity or people around me that want to read them. The rest I own and will keep.

Did not finish? Killer verse in the Everyman’s pocket poets series was something I got from the library and will return only half-read because I didn’t like it that much. A good idea but too much of same in the end, I can only read a certain number of poems about brutal killings it would appear.

In non-book related stats;

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Meditation; So far this month I have meditated 20 times in 30 days which isn’t bad. I’ve mostly stuck to the 5 minute routine but a couple of longer sessions have happened. Getting there slowly but surely. It does help, and the chances are bigger of me doing it if I have time in the morning.

Scent; I have smelled like roses all month. I have been using L’ombre dans l’eau from Diptyque pretty much exclusively, on cold days I have taken indulgent showers using the Portrait of  lady shower gel from Frederic Malle that was a gift earlier this year. Nora Ephron always advised to “always use the good bath oil” and this is my take on it. As a perfume this is a bit heavy for me with its oriental scent and roses but in this form it works wonderfully. I also made a batch of sugar based scrub for myself which I scented with bergamot and rose. Some wonderful layering going on, the shower gel and scrub did anchor the perfume.

Accessories? Nothing to report. No trends or pieces that I have started using again. A sort of inbetween month when it comes to clothes as the weather has been very varied and unpredictable. However, I have worn black nail polish all month pretty much. That’s a statement too.

Sewing? None. Ideas a plenty however and I need to carve out a weekend where I can just go mad and turn my place upside down and just do it. Nor have I bought clothes. A bigger concern is that both my black cashmere cardigans now have substantial holes in them, I’m down to one pair of jeans (two pairs have ripped in the last months), two pairs of trousers have had to be put in the “to mend pile” but they are both in synthetic materials and poor quality (and well-used) so I don’t know if it’s worth it. But yeah, I should probably start by doing some patching of existing pieces (that I use a lot) before making something new, as I tend to make skirts and dresses of which I have many already and limited necessity. Need to get ideas out of my head though.

-Suss