7 things from the Asian supermarket

IMG_1863I went by the asian supermarket yesterday to pick up soba noodles, sichuan peppar and a few other essential foods, but there is more to be found there. It’s a great place to shop to be honest. Here are a few things to look out for;

  1. Fans; these are ever so useful when it’s warm out and a small fan that you can fold up is a good thing to have in your bag. I stock up on these and frequently give them as presents.
  2. Soaps; especially rose and jasmine. They smell great,cost next to nothing and are not drying. I mostly adore the packaging to be honest.
  3. Sheet masks; turns out that the asian supermarket is where reasonable priced and good quality taiwanese and korean sheet masks can be found.
  4. Fortune cookies; These are somewhere between styrofoam and something you can eat but I count them here as they are not essential food. However they are fun to have at a dinner party and can be a nice decoration on a glass of chocolate mousse.
  5. These tiny teacups; I have a weak spot for blue and white china and I seem to be partial to this, the cheapest around, and some very fancy Royal Copenhagen and Spode. These are great for chocolate mousse,chocolate fondants,to serve an espresso/macchiato or punch.
  6. Really big bowls of this kind; great to serve punch from or use as fruit bowls or possibly floral arrangements.
  7. Teapots; Have we meet? You need teapots of all shapes and sizes(obviously) but these are reasonably priced, really good quality and in worst case they have other uses. They never go out of style.

-Suss

Weekend and a watchful eye

IMG_1231Under the heading of “things I don’t actually collect but have a lot of anyways” we have come to The evil eye.

I’m fascinated and have quite a few; some are of the kind to be placed somewhere in the home to protect it from djinns and other evil spirits.

However of late I have rummaged  in my drawers and sported them on my person. I have more then these two around my neck; I’ve also been wearing a bracelet. I have a few more and I just might add them. Three is the magic number(and that’s what I’m wearing on a day to day basis now, pretty solidly for a few weeks) but seven is also a number with magical connotations. I do wonder if I have that many laying around? I’m not superstitious by the way, I just like the look of them, especially the more almond shaped eye. And turquoise is such a great could to just have a dash of. Shamelessly mixing gold and silver I might add( my experience; in the middle east it’s all about the evil eye and gold while the Greeks and in Turkey they like to mix it with silver. Just anecdotal evidence but it’s an observation). I do hope they become trendy around these parts because I would love some rings, that would really work for me. And one of the necklaces and my bracelet is looking a bit knackered.

IMG_1233 Maybe they have been beset by evil and taken all the bad juju, but probably just low quality to begin with; souvenirs rarely are top-notch. The company from which I bought my glasses, Divides, has a very nice looking eye as a logotype. Makes sense since they are in the business of selling things that make people see better. But as lovely as it is I can’t really walk around carrying that box. I wear the glasses thougo. I must say I really enjoying seeing clearly and not having tired eyes and headaches. Hmmm; maybe that’s why I started wearing the eye-symbols again? It’s all very Freudian somehow(not necessarily in a bad way).

Have a great weekend!

Things referred to in this post:

The evil eye

Nividas

-Suss

 

Accessorizing outside the box

I’m not gonna get too specific with this or make a tutorial; I just want to plant a seed and hopefully make you look at things around you a bit differently.

Jewelry is one thing; know what you are doing when working with expensive materials or leave it to professionals. Accessories though? Go for it.

With a few simple tools( a pair of small pliers, sandpaper possibly), super glue and supplies from the craft shop fun thing can be made.

When it comes to the super glue use the “gel” kind if you can find it, it usually comes in a little tube. Works better then the more liquid kind with these sort of thing. And don’t trust that “dries in 10 seconds” thing. Add light pressure for half a minute and leave to dry over night before using.

There are “ready” rings to buy;you just have to glue something on it. In this case a teacup that is a knickknack from my childhood and a button from an old(and loved) coat.

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Buttons also make excellent pins; I’ve found different kinds and sizes of “bases” so the sky is the limit. Here three old coats (I really love my coats) will be remembered through pins. They do look very good together on the lapel of a fourth coat oddly enough.

An old broken watch from a flea market in Paris became a necklace, as did some buttons from a table organ. The last to have the word “vox humana” and “voix celestial” printed on them. Again; those two are best worn together.

And then there is a necklace with little souvenir pendants, solitaire earrings and a little marble heart in the middle. I would like to wear a charm bracelet but turns out I’m to active and the thing snags in everything. And I loose two many earrings in wintertime. My body language and the consequences of long scarfs ended up being ingredients for a “charm necklace”.

I’d say start with rings and pins as they are easiest but none of this is really hard. Time-consuming only if you decide to make shards of a broken plate into a necklace or earrings because then you have to sand down the edges with sandpaper and it can take some time( and do it outside; it gets very dusty).

These are not expensive things, although for me they all have affectionate value, but they are fun. And we all need a bit more of fun.

-Suss

 

Weekend and a whiff of the good life

I went into Hermès to ask about one perfume and left with samples of many. As a brand Hermès has a place in my heart and I think highly of their perfumes, even though I haven’t had that many. Un Jardin sur le Nil I’ve mentioned, I made an effort with Kelly Caleché but it evaporated on my skin so the loveliness of it was wasted. I’ve smelled the others but nothing has really felt like “me”. I think they are wonderful; some of the older ones are so chic, but I don’t feel comfortable in them sadly. Even though I’m no perfume blogger I will share my impressions with you. This blog is all about giving you information you didn’t ask for.

I stated that I was looking for something fresh and citrus-y and I was given two samples, “Rhubarbe écalate” and “Pamplemousse rose”. The latter is exactly what it sounds like; grapefruit and rose which is a scent I should love. It’s a combination I use in cocktails all the time!! And it is lovely, just too close to “Un Jardin sur le Nil” for me to really get into it, especially when it dries down( I adhere to the theory that there is a certain amount of skin alchemy involved as far as perfume is concerned which makes scents smell different on different people). It should be noted that Rhubarb écarlate is created by Cristine Nagel.

The rhubarb scent was more to my liking but I’m not completely sold on it. For me it’s the wrong time of year; I’ll probably go mad for this in April/May. It smells  like the dessert I make with baked rhubarb with strawberries and orange zest. The recipe is from the Rose Bakery cookbook and everyone I know has been treated to this att some point; it’s wonderful with custard for pudding or with yoghurt as a moorish breakfast. So you see; this perfume does something for me but right now I need something that enhances my everyday mood enough to get me through to the end of April. Which brings me to the other sample I got.

Hermessence is their premium line not available everywhere. A dozen or so scents created by Jean Claude Ellena in his signature style which I would describe as “perfume as watercolor paintings”(or maybe someone else said that?). Point is that he makes very elegant and understated scents for the most part. There are people who really know perfume that have written about him and his position as in-house nose at Hermes(which is a very smart match if you ask me).

Even though I’m not a perfume collector, and not as knowledgeable as some, I know more than many and if it’s one thing I do know is that making perfume is a craft. Even though I wasn’t turned on by all of these, doesn’t mean I don’t see how well made they are. Thought has gone into them. I know this in part because I’ve read “Diary of a Nose” by Jean-Claude Ellena. A book I very much recommend.

Of the ones I’ve tried this week,Rose Ikebana,Vétiver Tonka,Iris Ukioye and  Osmanth Yunnan, the first two really had me purring and the two latter are nice but not for me.

Vétiver is earthy and sweet in the best kind of way; according to guidelines from Ellena and Hermès all the perfumes in this line corresponds to fabrics; supposedly this is wool. All I can think of though is a well worn leather jacket , one that has taken on the smell of a strong perfume and mixed with the leather created something new. It’s got that lovely “green” vibe and I love this, and prefer it to Bal d’Afrique from Byredo. However I keep thinking it’s a scent for fall.

Rose Ikebana is the complete opposite; in the description it say that it’s the mix of rose petals and rhubarb(again with the rhubarb); I do smell those things but the overall impression, for me, is vintage soaps. The kind granny uses. Of these samples this is my fave, the one that puts a smile on my face and a spring in my step.

Have a great weekend everyone!

-Suss

 

Darling River

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There is no end to the contradictions I consist of. Perfumewise I’m craving freshness and I’ve done more then one trip to the perfume counters looking for a little something citrus-y to put on my wrist. I have returned with a few samples but mostly bought baklava. The jury is still out on wether I will change perfume, make-up routine and possibly the way I dress due to the change of glasses.(It must however be pointed out that it might be the other way around; that I chose glasses diametrically opposite to the ones I had because I wanted a new look so it would have happened anyway. In fact this is likelier. However will always love baklava).

So while my head wants new things (all lightness and lemons) my body is call for something completely different; sugar and comfort(sugar is comfort?).

Those two things comes together in my fascination with the Nile.

I spent a part of my childhood in Egypt, mostly Cairo. One rather long stretch, we lived there, and several visits. It is a place close to my heart; my first memories are from sitting in the back of a taxi being amazed with the light and the palm trees. As a child I was more into the old history of Egypt; the pharaohs and the pyramids. It wasn’t until later that I discovered the interesting era of the Mamelucks or realized how egyptian culture shaped the Arab world, or indeed what a dictatorial regime was and that I have lived in one, and why we were there in the first place. That said, foreigners were rarely a subject to egyptian law, and as is still often the case with first world staff in third world countries; we only spent time with our own group. Which in my case were other children, the imaginary friend that everyone claims I had back then( I have no memory of this what so ever) and the stray cat that moved in on our balcony with her kittens.

Having that sort of connection with a place doesn’t ensure that you will read everything about it(my brother cares not one bit and never has). In this case I think the experience mingled with some of my genetically codified personality traits; I’ve never committed to collecting anything full on but rather there are several areas of special interest, the Nile being one of them.

I’ll buy almost anything with the Nile in the title. I’ve bought and read some wonderful books on the subject(and many awful ones). The most classic, and on point, are Alan Moorehead’s books “The blue nile” and “The white nile” from the 60’s. These were bestsellers and it turns out they were even translated to swedish. In them Moorehead explores and more importantly writes the history of the Nile and it’s two parts: the blue Nile being the lower part starting in Khartoum and all the way through Egypt  and the White nile, from the origin in Lake Victoria through the high plateaus of Sudan. It is travel writing at it’s finest; they felt very fresh and I felt like a child on an adventure reading them. (You can almost hear the theme to Indiana Jones while doing so).

With the travel writing, and wonderful watercolors, of Florine Asch there is more some very sophisticated jazz that would be the soundtrack. I can look at the pictures in this book forever.

Apricots on the Nile by Colette Rossant should have been mentioned when I stacked up  the foodie memoirs but it had fallen behind other books, so I bring it up now. Rossant is the child of an Egyptian-Jewish father and  a french mother. When her father dies she was raised by her grandparents in Cairo and didn’t live with her mother until she was 15. Very dramatic, well told and mouth watering recipes. All of it is very “old world”, almost like a novel by Agatha Christie, but she also writes leveling about the food, the light and evokes the lush gardens where she.

Which brings us to the closest thing I have to a signature scent, one of two scents that I’ve bought more then once(or in this case been given) and that I bought first time without having had a whiff of it; entirely based on the name.

I read about it in a fashion magazine and had no possibility at the time to smell it anywhere. That said I wasn’t exactly making a crazy bet; it’s from the  Hermés perfume line and Jean-Claude Ellena had created it; even then I knew that I was in good hands and so asked someone who was traveling to buy me a bottle on the duty free in a well-stocked airport. And I loved it. It was fresh but didn’t smell like a cleaning product. It was an abstraction of citrus in a way. I wouldn’t say that it in any way reminds me of the smell of Cairo(which is more about hot asphalt,trash and jasmine; Mona di Orio used to have a scent that captured it exactly).

The whole story about the perfume I read about later in the wonderful “The perfect scent-a year in the perfume industry” by Chandler Burr ( a fascinating read even if one isn’t a wearer of the perfumes it focuses on; Un garden sur le Nil and Lovely på Sarah Jessica Parker) so add that to the list of books I’m trying to bully you into reading.

Anyways; it says in the description that “Un Jardin Sur le Nil” smells of green mangoes and lotus flowers. If they say so: having never smelled them I have no reference. To me it smells of old fashioned soap, grapefruit juice and sunshine. In short a wonderful morning. I have a weak spot for colognes in general and this has a lot of those qualities except that is one of the Ellena scents that doesn’t evaporate from my skin in under four seconds and stays longer then a cologne would. But it is most decidedly a mood enhancer for me. This was revolutionary scent when it came(or so I have gathered from reading about it later) but this feels like a modern classic now. Remind me again; why am I running around trying perfumes when I have a bottle of this?

-Suss

 

Big on “bigarade”

img_0265I’m lucky to have a friend who gives me,instead of flowers, exciting ingredients when visiting. Last time I got saffron and a few Seville oranges, also known as bitter oranges or marmelade oranges. In swedish we call them  “pomeranser”, the french call them “bigarade”.

I was familiar  with the dried peels of the fruit; it is used to give several christmas drinks and dishes a full-bodied citrus flavour.  I thought about making marmalade but truth be told I prefer a sweet marmalade, which is odd because I love a hint of bitterness in almost anything else.

I looked around online for more info and it turns out they have a very limited season  which made them feel very precious.  One tip I found was to save the zest;first I peeled them and let the zest dry in an cooling oven(I had made a pie).

Through a suggestion on Instagram I searched for recipes for curd and ended up making this one by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. I trust him with things like this, and rightly so. Why everyone doesn’t write out the exact amount of liquid you need for this is beyond me; writing “three bitter oranges” leaves a lot of room for interpretation (one of mine yielded a lot of juice, one none at all(sadly)).

The result is delicious; I’ve only had it on toast so far and will probably eat all of it before I get around to trying anything else. It should be noted that this only last 3-4 weeks in the fridge time is of the essence.

This immersion in citrus, making the curd made the flat smell amazing, got me thinking about perfume. Welcome to my mind people!

But really; my brain was primed. Through a comment on Goodreads I was reminded of “The memoirs of Hadrian” by Marguerite Yourcenar. I’ve read it before and I loved it. I also remember hearing the story of how this book inspired Annick Goutal to make “Eau d’Hadrian”; a very citrusy and lovely perfume that I’ve only had the chance to smell once, in passing. I went looking for both book and perfume but while the library had a copy for me to read it turns out that Annick Goutal is no longer sold anywhere in Stockholm. So much for that.

But I do want a new perfume in “the fresh category”; they are lovely in summer but also a necessity some days in winter as they can be “sunshine in a bottle”. My “Grand Néroli” from Atelier Cologne serves that exact purpose, in addition to being a nice take on the kind of scent that works in an office environment. My bottle is almost empty and with very few exceptions (like two exceptions ever) I don’t buy the same perfume twice, same kind of scent yes, but not the exact one. Not that I’ve had that much perfume or anything.

So what is out there ? I had a sniff around town and there is a lot stuff smelling like cleaning products. Going out looking for a perfume is wrought with danger; for me it can easily be overwhelming even though I love it, and I just abandon the whole thing. Any way:  the top contender right now is “Bigarade concentrée” from Frederic Malle, created by Jean-Claued Ellena.  It’s got a very warm base and then the citrus top notes just makes it a lovely thing to have on the skin this time of year. In fact it’s the only contender right now.

I went home and did a little research to save myself some time and agony(and spare staff at perfume counters my ambivalence. I just managed to make a choice of glasses, I really shouldn’t put myself through this right now and instead use what I have).

Things to read:

-Bois de jasmine wrote about citrus scents in the Financial times; find it here.

-I haven’t totally given up on  “Eau d’Hadrian”: this post makes me want to at least smell it again before deciding (I remember thinking it was too “spicy” for me?).

-Suss

Bookmarks,brooches&bracelets*

img_9383If you,like me, have several books on the go at the same time then you will need a way to mark the pages. I don’t mind dog-earing pages really, I trash my books anyways with margin notes and what not, but I read a fair bit of library books and those most be taken care of.

I find myself using assorted things. The usual suspects like actual bookmarks bought in bookshops(Persephone books gives you a book mark with every purchase; they are wonderful and look like their gorgeous endpapers), bought in Museum shops(it’s an excellent souvenir), tickets and playing cards that I find laying in the streets. It’s surprising how often I do, and even more so that it’s often the queen of hearts.

However I also make them. Many a friend has been gifted one that I’ve made using watercolor paper and nail polish. I used the same technique as with the Christmas cards; just a different size paper and I dipped the whole thing.

Fancy packing is another source. If the box is of a sturdy material just cut away. If it’s a thinner material it can be strengthened using watercolor paper and Mod-podge i.e. decoupage glue, or regular paper glue. This also works with nice images from magazines and art books.

It’s best to glue the backing paper to the image or nice packaging first, and cut after it’s dried. If using decoupage glue then obviously you can give the bookmark a coat on the front to protect it from wear and tear.

But bookmarks are disposable things. They fall to pieces,fall out of books or are forgotten,sometimes on purpose, in library books when they are returned.

I was given this lovely bookmark with an owl”on top”. It was constantly in danger of being damaged so I cut off the owl with pliers and made a brooch(the american word, I usually say pin I know)

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Another bookmark that has come to live a very different life is the one my friend K. gave me as a present one year. It’s of metal and too heavy for the paperbacks I often carry, it kept falling out. But it was a gift, and such a clever one too! On it is this list of books to read. After some consideration I went to a jeweler and had it made into a cuff. They had to cut some bits off because I have tiny writs but none of the titles were removed.

img_9387Lately I’ve been using mostly gold earring and rings, and this one is unwieldy when having to put on layers and layers of clothes, but it will be used again. A perfect accessory of a bookworm like me. Although I doubt that I will ever make it through all the titles that are printed on this(5o books you must read was the heading that was cut of). I doubt that I will ever enjoy Joyce.

-Suss

*Yes I know; this is a cuff not a bracelet. But it sounded better as a headline.