Friday & Four Frocks

The weather has been nothing but rain and wind, the temperature dangerously close to zero and the skies a permanent grey. So obviously I’ve been wearing dresses all week.

Mind you,  I haven’t worn only that. I’ve been wearing tights and scarfs and cardigans and coats. In fact, due to a very stiff neck I am currently wearing my pink cashmere scarf all the time.

Seriously though, I have a few dresses that are made with this weather in mind, or rather; in materials that are unbearable in any other conditions.

On Monday night I went to the event where the August-prize nominees were announced, clad in a shimmery and very acrylic number. The fabric has a psychedelic pattern and when I got it I decided to make a simple design, also the fact that its rather thick made more advanced pleats unpractical. I do love it though, wore it with grey tights and my black double monk straps, and a little pin that is a wolf howling at the moon.

Tuesday I was dressed in a fave that I have tried to photograph many times, and it is a series of failures. Black dresses huh? The point is that this number, which is a modified Zara dress, was bought in hurry on sale and trying to wear it in real life i.e. not just trying it in a dressing room on an empty stomach with no time to spare, I realized that it was just to short  (for me anyways). As I liked the upper half of it, the solution was to cut off a bit of the lower end to create a line and add something else, which was some fake leather I had at home. It is now a comfortable length and it has a clean silhouette and reasonable proportions.

Wednesday was a dress made for cold days, it is lined with cotton so it is double layers. Warm and soft, perfect for this season. It was a weird shade of yellow at one point but is nowadays a greenish grey, luckily the gold embroidery stayed gold in the dye process. The fabric came from Pakistan, a gift to my father from one of his colleagues I think.

Last but not least, I walked around yesterday in a dress that looks like my auntie’s curtains from the 90s. Because that’s what it is; my aunt had a clear out, and I nabbed well, a bunch of stuff including this. Nobody is gonna buy it a the charity shop, trust me. They are drowning in old IKEA curtain that nobody wants any more. This might not be IKEA fabric but it’s got that vibe. Anyways, I’ve made it into a dress now (and I have more of this to work with so might make a skirt too) and it’s wearable with a black cardigan and some black boots. I should wear it with my big Kalevala necklace , I think that would great actually. With the colors and the print it has a lot going on but it’s lot less offensive to sensitive people in this form than as curtains.

-Suss

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Thursday&Trend alert!

I’m gonna bring up The bear and the nightingale one last time and then I’ll stop. But this cover, which is from the hardback that came last year, must have been on the tables of many creative spirits because a quick browse in the shops (when I was looking for jeans and a shirt of the sustainable kind) was like seeing this cover all over.

These are some of the items I found that would make excellent camouflage, and that’s not bringing up all the items that could match it “in spirit” if not outright; I’m talking about blue brocade, Russian style coats, plenty of fur (fake of course but still glamorous). Dressing trendy this season means pretending you are a woman traveling on the Tran-sibirian Railway between Moscow and Beijing as it would be if Chanel made a commercial of it (and pretended that it was the 20s). I also went by a shopwindow and saw children clothes that would also have looked good next to this cover, although I don’t think they should read the book.

This is making me want to shop floral dresses something awful, which obviously is the last thing I need right now. I should however buy my own copy of this book as I will probably want to read it again and again, and look at the cover for inspiration.

-Suss

 

7 gifts in a jar.

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This happens every year; a glut of birthdays, dinners and celebrations when vacation time is over and schools start. I thus need a bunch of presents and even though I usually plan ahead (and yes; I have a “gift drawer”) I also turn to these homemade things to give or sometimes hand over instead of a flower. None of my friends actually need more “stuff” so giving nice things that are put to use is a good way to go. A word of caution: make sure to sterilize jars properly beforehand so that you do not give friends food poisoning. 

  1. Granola. As I blogged about the other day (here) I make my own and making a batch for someone else isn’t a bad idea. Just make sure that whatever you make is not gonna cause them an allergic reaction.
  2. Jam. You do not have to dress yourself in an asbestos suit and search the forrest for berries, and then slave away in a kitchen that becomes as hot as hell. Buy frozen fruit and a bag of jam sugar at the supermarket instead. It is very easy to make a small batch, just a couple of jars. Buying some Bonne Mama or Tiptree jam is always appreciated (and those are good stuff), homemade does allow for a personal touch like some vanilla in the blackcurrant jam, a mix of strawberries and red currants or plum jam with a dash of dark rum. Once you go down that path you will never look back. Search online and many recipes are available unless easy to follow instructions are printed on the bag of jam sugar.
  3. Romtopf. Speaking of rum…This is a desert for adults only and it won’t be ready for three months but that’s not a reason not to give it now. We are in harvest season so plenty of berries to pick or buy, and frozen is fine btw (just defrost them a bit before the layering so it doesn’t become to watery). I prefer using light rum and dark sugar and insist on a cinnamon stick. I’ve posted about it here. Make sure that the instructions “Must not be opened until December” are on the tag (and maybe ask them to turn it once or twice before then so it mixes?)
  4. Flavored sugar. This is the kind of thing that nobody thinks they need, until they have it and then life is never the same. So many of them can be sprinkled on porridge, used in cooking or baking or is all else fails; mixed with boiling water to make a syrup for cocktails. The best tip I have is to make several small jars, like three different, and make that the present just to give your friends a taste of what flavored sugar can do for them. A nice mix is lavender sugar, one with citrus and lastly one with vanilla to get them started. This is similar to how I go about it.
  5. Readymade spice mix. If I was perfect woman I would roast spices every time I made a curry (and make no mistake, curry season is coming). I also fall back on ras-el-hanout and other spice blends for chicken. Basically it’s an easy way not to have to think about seasoning every time and cut down the process. I probably have posted about this before but cannot find it and so I encourage you to search online or in cookbooks. It’s the best thing. Giving a few hints what it’s for on a note to the recipient  is mandatory.
  6. Bodyscrub. This is easy to make but it must be mentioned again that it shouldn’t be used on the face, take it easy with essential oils (I stick to mint or bergamot when gifting it) and it shouldn’t be used to often as it clogs up the drains a bit (but it doesn’t last forever so use it, and keep it in the fridge in-between). I’ve blogged about it here.
  7. Treats. If you have the granola all you need to do is melt some chocolate and then mix the two and let it set. This recipe is similar to mine (mine comes from a handwritten note now covered in stains).

-Suss

Monday & Magnum

So I had heard of this thing, and it turned out to be true; there is a Magnum pop-up in Stockholm where you can buy your own personalized Magnum.

So we are talking vanilla ice cream on a stick, not the most glamorous of things. But I had seen pics around IG and I was intrigued by the toppings so I suggested to someone that we should go try them (i.e. I may have been somewhat insistent. OK OK, I confess, I was on a little campaign there).

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Because the thing is, that ice cream on a stick with fancy toppings is 50 SEK, about €5, which feels like a lot for a Magnum. But then again people pay almost that for a latte in this town. And a piece of my soul is now the going rate for a decent perfume so economics in this town are skewed. For the price of a Magnum I can get a brand new shirt.  The shirt will last about as long as it takes me to eat the ice cream but still. And I shouldn’t eat regular ice cream to begin with but I have never really taken care of my health so nothing new there.

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There is a buffet of toppings, and they all looked nice. I went with salt licorice sprinkles, dried rose petals and meringues. You get to choose which chocolate they dip it in and what they drizzle on top; milk chocolate, dark chocolate or white. I went with the dark for dipping and white from drizzling.

Was it good? Yes. I like this combination of flavours and it will probably result in a very avantgarde Eton Mess in the future. Was it worth it? Taking the price and a bit of stomach ache into the equation, for me it was worth it to do it once just to try.

Find out more here.

-Suss

George&Junkshops; 7 things to look out for

A junk shop is not to be confused with an antique shop. An antique shop is clean,its goods are attractively set out and priced at about double their value and once inside the shop you are usually bullied into buying something. A junk shop has  fine film of dust over the window,its stock may include anything that is not perishable and and its proprietor, who is usually asleep in a small room at the back, displays no eagerness to make a sale.

-George Orwell

I’ve quoted this passage from the essay Just Junk-but who could resist it by George Orwell before and I will again as I happen to think it’s very funny and it’s funny because it’s true. Everyone I know remembers how when I moved into this flat there was the oddest junk shop on the corner and it fit this description perfectly. We have all bought stuff there and some of it was very good, and possibly a bargain. The most memorable thing however were the long essays that the proprietor left in the window for passers by to read, explaining his worldview and what was wrong in society today.  A lovely bit of eccentricity that the neighborhood did gain from I think.

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Had I had this wonderful essay by Orwell then I would have bought more things probably; Orwell is a gem of a writer but also a seasoned shopper. Some of the things he tells us to look out for in the essay(included in The decline of the english murder)

  1. “Victorian brooches and lockets of agate or other semi-precious stones”; Orwell concedes that 5 out of 6 are ugly but the beautiful ones are worth the trouble. I will start looking immediately, this sounds like exactly the thing I like. Why don’t I have lockets of agate already ?(because I love jade that’s why)
  2. Papier-mâche snuffboxes with pictures painted on the lid; If I had a small collection of those my accessories would be well organized. I have those Muji thingies but they are not very sexy. Probably more practical but since I use the same pieces to death in periods (and then they are either on me or in my small Wedgwood dish) it’s not really something I need worry about.
  3. Scrap screens; He points out that the best were made in the 1880’s but these do not come cheaply anymore. I do agree that they are wonderful. An old friend bought one and used as a bed board, simply marvelous in that kind of minimalist Stockholm home that is de rigeur nowadays. And as Orwell points out; it is fun adding your own scraps if needed . I would like a screen in any case and I might just make my own with all the maps and other travel mementos I’ve gathered over the years.
  4. Glass paper weights with pictures at the bottom; Don’t buy the expensive ones from John Derian I implore you. Buy a 70’s one with the words “Bienvenue à Nice” at the bottom instead. You need a bit of kitsch, you really do.
  5. Old French sword-bayonets(to use as a fire poker); Pure genius.
  6. Keys to fit almost any lock; And if you don’t want to find a key to unlock a secret drawer in a chest (also bought in a junk shop), you can always turn them into art or accessories.
  7. “Indeed,I have often found that the cheapest way of buying a frame is to buy a picture and then throw away the picture”; This is very true but it should be added how many pictures that look a lot better when they are out of their frame. It absolutely used to be the case that people got very elaborate gilded frames for pictures and paintings so that other could clearly see that the it was something expensive that had been framed. That it ended up overshadowing the actual artwork seemed less of a problem. You might just get two for one with that.

-Suss