Carbs&Chignons

IMG_1997

So the world is rejoicing that the French decided not to elect a right wing populist as president. Of course,always contrarian the french; electing a right wing leader is what everyone else is doing. So I guess the fascination with them will continue. The food,the style and the attitude. Paris, the city of lights, the undulating hills of Provence and the glamorous life in Nice; they are the object of our dreams and desires. How to get there without leaving the comfort of your own home?

Many a books have been written by the french, by people living in France and about the french themselves. And on a few occasions by the french about the french;  to explain to us mere mortals how they do it. I’ve read more then one of those books, and even when I open the book with the intention of not liking it and assume they are making fun of me, I still manage to find a few tips and tricks along the way.

Why french women don’t get fat supposedly got quite a buzz when it was published. I have the Swedish translation that I bought at a gift shop a few years back. And Giuliano is a bit full of herself, i.e. lives up to the myth of the french woman, but many of the recipes are good I have to admit. I don’t know how “valid” it still is. She advocates a life with carbs,and I agree, but many of the food fads continue to rage, get exchanged for new ones and obesity is still one of the biggest health problems in the world.  So maybe she sold a lot of books but her solutions probably mostly preached to the gospel. I don’t think she did intend to save the world however.

A book more recently published is How to be Parisian wherever you are-love style and bad habits written by a group of very chic french women. the kind that has an inherited Hermés bag, a cool piece of new Chanel and has perfected the art of messy hair. I would say that this book,also intended for the hapless non-french, doesn’t take itself to seriously. And it does involve some good recipes. If we are talking style ideals and role models I would say that this bunch isn’t all that bad. I’m obviously biased; I think french pharmacies are brilliant with their affordable skincare, love good food and have a had a penchant for striped tops since childhood. Also any excuse not to wash my hair to often,or brush it, will be used. They say it’s chic, I nod my head and wear my hair in a messy bun for the 19th day in a row. But it is a fun book to browse through. I liked it more then I thought I would.

One thing that the french has figured out is that older women aren’t a menace to society. Yes, they do love young women, the femme-infant has a place in the french heart, but there seems to be room for all women.

I don’t really know where I’m going with this. I just thought I would mention these two books, that have in common that I gained more from them then I thought I would. The good thing about advice from a book about how to be french is that you can pick what you like and ignore the rest, which really is the best kind advice book. And I haven’t visited France since 2015 so aching to go back.

-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.

IMG_0599

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

 

A supposedly fun thing I’ll probably try again

IMG_0224After having DFW on my TBR for ages, I finally got my hands on a copy but sadly I DNF and I ask myself;WTF?

But seriously; David Foster Wallace is one of those writers that is surrounded by an aura of intellect and profoundness. People talk about reading him like it’s a conquest. Well people speak about Proust the same way, like it’s major  achievement and that those that manage it are better people. Not so; we who have read Proust know that he isn’t that difficult, in fact very funny, and as life changing as it can be it doesn’t really make us morally superior, and I will never act like it does. In fact I’ve gone on and on, here,there and everywhere, about how Proust really is a jolly good fellow who isn’t difficult to read at all; he just has a different idea of how long a sentence should be( he was French; what do you expect?). But I digress, this was supposed to be about DFW and my failure to finish.

So simply put; I don’t fear Wallace, and I still don’t, because I’m not a complete idiot and he wasn’t the most intelligent man to ever walk the earth( which is either Stephan Hawking, who doesn’t actually walk but has a wheelchair, or whoever started putting sea salt in chocolate. Genius pure and simple). Point is I should be able to make sense of DFW. And I do. I’ve concluded that I started in the wrong end however.

The problem for me with this collection of essays, of which I read about half before I needed to return it to the library, was that so many of the didn’t feel relevant here and now. I will absolutely advocate reading his essays but maybe start with something else, or buy this book and read it very slowly.

The titel essay, about taking a cruise, was fun. And an essay about consumption of popular culture felt poignant. A fair few of his essays are published online but reading “Consider the lobster” on screen when so much happens in the footnotes for which I have to scroll cirka 8 years is insufferable. He loves footnotes, I love footnotes. But they don’t translate well to the online-format (hence my over use of parenthesis,”also” and semi-colons). But again that wasn’t the story her (although it is very much in the meandering vein of Wallace.)

Another dilemma I’m faced with is the scarcity of DFW at Stockholm libraries; he is in the catalogue but noted as “missing”. His books have probably been stolen, or read to they fell apart and no new copies have been bought. In addition, and I hate to admit this, maybe this is at the outer limits of my english, also because it’s american admittedly. I attempted Pynchon in english once; failed. I get more out of it in translation.

So the moral of the story is this; Wallace ins’t an enigma of a writer wrapped in a conundrum. Well worth reading but you might consider doing so in your native tongue.

Things mentioned in this post;

DFW=David Foster Wallace

DFW essays 

DNF=did not finish

TBR= To be read

WTF= what the f&/k

-Suss

7 rites of Spring

IMG_1467I’m a creature of habit when it comes to most things, and it should be noted that I take the change of the seasons very seriously. I’ve decided that it’s spring, irrespective of  the weather.

I may or may not have blogged about my spring-rituals before however I do know that I’ve brought up Rita Konig, of whom I’m a fan. I don’t know how old these tear sheets are but they are from British Vogue and they have on them a few tips from then Vogue columnist Konig about “how to spring clean your life”.  And very good advice it is; some of them I’ve integrated to my rite of spring, and then I’ve added a few of my own. This is what I did this weekend.

  1. Give the home a good going over including a washing of the windows. It doesn’t have to be the real deal; windex and an old newspaper is fine. But it makes the world of difference, especially for me as the living room has one HUGE window. I love the light it let’s through but it can be unforgiving if dirty.
  2. Change the scent of the home; out with the sweet and spicy candles, in with the fresh and floral. Predictable as I am I really love Baies from Diptyque this time of year but their Mimosa candle is also lovely.
  3. Get a new soap and handlotion for the bathroom. I have a fondness for Morrocan Tea from Other Stories; the lotion is very good and the scent is suitable for everyone.
  4. Wash all the wool sweaters; I use my cashmere all year round but try not to wash them unless they are actually dirty. A good airing will often do. A few times of year I do however make sure they are all properly hand washed and dried(rolled up in big bath towels).
  5. Get something new on the wall; rehanging paintings or just changing what is in the frames gives me something new to look at and has a bigger impact then you can imagine. I have these five old poster with a Japanese series of prints on that I plan to frame and hang; bought them at a flea market last summer. Did not have time this weekend though but soon, very soon.
  6. Clear out the bookshelves; Konig advises this but I’ve resisted. After the Kon Mari -method I feel otherwise. I’ve tried different strategies but clearing the bookshelves four times of year, making room for new books, seems the ultimate method for me.
  7. Get a new watch strap; this was a piece of advice from the Vogue article that I really took to heart and did for spring for a few years. I really loved having a colourful strap to set the tone. I had dark blue, purple for a period and also green; a racing green one year and a more minty shade another. I had completely forgotten about this since I no longer have a watch. It broke and I haven’t bought a new one. I should do that; I miss having one on my arm, and the opportunity for a dash of colour that it allows.

Things mentioned in this post;

Rita Konig

Baies from Diptyque

Moroccan tea from Other Stories

Kon Mari-method

-Suss

 

 

Advice in Spade’s

IMG_1351And again we found ourselves in the category “big sisters and aunties I never had”. Although I do in fact have an auntie, and I love her, just that her advice never really seems to be the kind of thing that’s applicable when living in the big city. Her advice is more like what to do if you encounter a badger late at night or about all things weaving.

These little jewel colored books was something I picked up when a clothing store closed; everything was half off. I don’t know if these had been for sale or just been used for decoration. I can’t remember that store ever selling Kate Spade clothes or accessorizes though, which is a shame. However I saw that another shop has started selling her bags her in Stockholm so hopefully well get more stuff soon. The tableware I can live without but I’m a huge fan of the stationary and the accessories. I mean come on, I once saw a set of bracelets with the words “no sleep” on one and “’til Brooklyn” on the other on their website. That’s so funny. And there was a necklace with the words “spike the punch” that I tried to buy a few years back, so much that someone I know went out and bought one of those necklaces with a lot of letters so you can put together your own message, and made one for me.

That’s now though,when Kate Spade herself has pretty much left the company if I understand correctly. They do seem to embody her spirit though as these books on Style,Manners and Occasions from around 2004 can attest to.

Basically they are lovely little collections of advice on different themes to do with the title on the cover. Very simple but done in an elegant way and with the most wonderful illustrations. I’ve had them a few years and, I just love browsing them, to look at the colours and patterns. When I’ve had a little peek in them I feel like I am a bit more sophisticated and capable of handling what life throws at me. But as always with self-appointed lifestyle gurus you must find one that is telling you what you want to hear basically. I’m in the Kate&Konig bracket apparently; I love a good coat, take cocktails seriously and will never give up on gallery walls and bright colours(In your face Stockholm trend with empty walls,In your face!!).

Sadly I just have to accept that everyone doesn’t have these books and even if they do, they are not necessarily gonna follow the advice in them. There are several mentions on how to behave when using a mobile phone. 12 years after these were published  there are still people screaming about there personal life, into their phones, while on the commute. And considering that the average time to get your first phone seems to have dropped to those who literally were born yesterday I don’t understand why people who have had them for 20 years still behave like that. Oh well; that is the plague of our time.

These books are very American obviously in a charming and preppy way, but I’m not bothered by that. Everything I don’t like I probably just wave of as “american culture, not applicable in these parts” (said in my most BBC-like voice ever) and I must say they have aged rather well(or maybe I was just born a little old lady). It’s come so far that the chapter about fax-etiquette is rather sweet as no one uses them anymore(I think they will make a huge comeback soon. They are impossible to hack you know; if I ever send nudes it will  be by fax I assure you).

IMG_1380

My point is;if you come across these in a second hand books shop or so, do consider buying them. Even if I don’t live up to the standards she has set, it still nice to know there are some standards out there.

Things mentioned in this post;

Kate Spade Stationary

Also; take a look at her home. #goals

No sleep ’til Brooklyn

Rita Konig

-Suss

 

Weekend and what punk thought me

Note; Because of a technical glitch a draft of this post got published. This is what I intended. Sorry and have a great weekend./Suss   I’ve been reading “Get a life-the diary of Vivianne Westwood” and it has made me think a lot about punk. I’m too young to actually have been around when punk […]

Note; Because of a technical glitch a draft of this post got published. This is what I intended. Sorry and have a great weekend./Suss P.S. Still having technical problems it appears. *Le sigh*

I’ve been reading “Get a life-the diary of Vivianne Westwood” and it has made me think a lot about punk.

I’m too young to actually have been around when punk started but it is a movement that has had some staying power I must say. On the one hand there is the punk-esthetic that is alive and well, I see young people with mohikans on a regular basis, as counter-intuitive as that is. Wearing bondage pants and a Sex pistols t-shirt is an act of nostalgia at this point,which is not what punk is about. But it is a rite of passage I guess; it’s one of the looks that kind of personify the detachment and a “fuck it all” attitude that you are filled with at a certain age. Even in the little suburban area where I grew up a few were into it; I merely dabbled to be honest. I’ve never been able to commit to a sub-culture like that( and punk requires an almost religious fervour) as I’m always a reformer, always curious and never wearing exactly what someone else tells me to.

Which brings us to the attitude; if the punk-look is about nostalgia then the anti-establishment and D.I.Y attitude that punk made a point of has lived on. In many was electronic dance music and hiphop carry that torch today, and it’s there I kind of started. But my natural curiosity( and to a certain degree nerdiness)made me follow the traces back in music history. It’s a period that continues to fascinate many so it wasn’t hard to learn more and incorporate some of it in my life.

img_0938

7 Lessons learned from dabbling in punk

 1. A safety pin is a most stylish accessory

Nowadays I wear a huge safety pin, taken from my “kilt” on my lapel and it’s just right. That it has taken on more meaning this last year is another layer. You don’t have to trust me on this; both Sonia Rykiel and Hermès make accessories inspired by safety pins.

  2. Hair will grow out.

Oh the things I have done to my hair over the years; I’ve bleached it and I’ve dyed it blue. Put all manner of products in and gone at it with scissors. It will grow out again, in my case rather quickly. I still give myself bangs on a regular basis(and then I grow them out, complain for two weeks that I have no hairstyle, give myself bangs. Over and over). Hacked of split ends just the other week; it’s a trick I learned from Vogue(I think) where Natalie Massenet, the founder of Net-a-porter, admitted to just flipping her hair over and cutting along the edges with a pair of scissors from time to time. If you do it when your hair is damp and well-combed it really works and does give as she said “amazing layers”. It doesn’t work for everybody probably but I fall back on this trick still.

3.The value of a good name.

I saw an exhibit at The British Library in August; about fanzines and stuff around the Punk-movement, and we had fun looking at all the names of bands. Shakespeare said “a rose by any other name will smell just as sweet” and that might be true of roses. Bands however? A good name will set you apart. Eye-catching is the way to go; also true of books and perfumes.

4.Tartan is a neutral basically.

It works with everything and looks really really good with other tartans which I assume is some kind of blasphemy. I also regard leopard print as basically a neutral colour.

 5. Make up your own mind. Always.

Read the book. Don’t trust headlines. Read the fine print. See the art shows.Go to the opera. Knowledge is power. It’s said “you need to know the rules, then break the rules”. It’s the second part that people forget I think. They get to caught up in the system.

 6. The joy and power of DIY

Just like most punk bands didn’t know have to play when they started, I have very little education as far as sewing goes. I’ve learned by doing. It’s not the result that matters, it’s the journey. This can probably be transferred to making in general. I would love to see a cookbook called “The punk kitchen-three ingredients is all you need”(often punk bands stick to three chords when playing).

7. I’d rather Pogo then Go-go

I love to dance,I really do. I started ballet as a kid and even though that had to be abandoned before it got serious(I’m a clumsy cow) the idea of moving to music has been a part of my life ever since. Sadly I’m not sexy on the dance floor ; I give f’&%k all most of the time and have fun with my friends. The idea of standing at the edge of the dance floor looking cute has never worked for me; I’m first out there making a fool of myself.

For reference;

Hermes Safety pin jewelry 

Safety Pin movement

Get a life by Vivianne Westwood

That time I made a cocktail with a safety pin as garnish