Gift guide; On the shelf

So let us start the Christmas shopping a little bit. Never hurts to start thinking about it in time, Christmas eve is upon us faster then you know.

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Buying books as Christmas gifts (or gifts at all) is both heaven and hell. As a book lover I always want to share that love and make other people excited about reading, but giving them thick Russian classics isn’t always the best way. And that’s not even addressing the minor problems or a) have the recipient possibly already read it b) what does the recipient like to read at all? So my strategy, unless I know for a fact that there is a particular title that is on the wish list ( i.e. books for my father and brother) I usually go with collections, books to browse or a little something feel good.

  1. Anything by Peter Mayle. A year in Provence is such classic but it is a readily available and super cosy winter read. Reading about their Christmas in France during the holidays brings cheer. And his written several other books in the same style, that also work just fine. Good food, good wine and crazy “frogs”; what’s not to like?
  2. The Crazy Rich Asian trilogy by Kevin Kwan. I’ve talked about these a lot but I do love them, and think that they are suitable for so many people. They are funny and smart at the same time. Great on a holiday.
  3. A poem for every night of the year compiled by Allie Esiri. I bought this book last year and I have read a poem most nights, which I think is a great little thing to do. There is now a companion A poem for every day of the year, which I have my eye on. The first one is intended for children but I’d say anyone between the ages 5 and 105 can get something out of it. And you don’t have to read a poem every night, but should you fancy it – you’ll find something very suitable in this (and fear not; there is Byron among them).
  4. A food lovers book of days by James and Kay Salter. Another one I keep talking about but I think that it is scandalously underrated and unknown. Just these little lovely entries about something food related for every day, a few recepies. Celebrate the season and all that.
  5. A time of Gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor. Another book that I think is sort of feel good (or at least very engaging) and suitable for many people. Fermor’s travels through Europe in the 30s does capture the imagination and he writes ever so well.
  6. On Tyranny by Timothy Snyder. Neither feel good nor something to “dip in and out of”, but as I was putting together this list I decided that this little book might be one of the best stocking stuffer of all time.
  7. Let Proust change your life by Alain de Boton. Just the right amount of philosophy and air of French intellectual that anyone need during the Christmas holidays. Both fun and informative; you are giving people a possible new outlook on life.

-Suss

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Wednesday, worries & what I said last year

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There is no getting around that no amount of mindfulness exercises will soothe my soul at this point. I’m having some “mail-drama” with mail being lost and now also my mail being opened when delivered. I filed a formal complaint on Monday and I’ve been advised to file another one and for that I had to sum up the number of things (and the value of them) and I feel gutted. I’ve basically been robbed. It might seem a silly thing to be upset about but it has an effect on my life as I cannot say yes to publishers that want to send me books, I’m not gonna order any myself, birthday present have gone AWOL apparently and I live in dread of getting like the electricity or gas shut off because they will claim I haven’t paid the bills (most of those have arrived. Nobody wants to steal my bills it appears, which is another indication that something is afoot; only the good stuff is missing. If I see any of my neighbors with Glossier blush it might get ugly).

Another reason for distress is that Murasaki died. Yes, I’m legit upset by the death of a fictional character. I’m talking, as so often, about Tale of Genji. I knew she was gonna die,  I have read enough about the book and that is often analyzed. And she was awfully sick a few chapters ago which should have prepared me. But no. At this point I have read a chapter (or 30 pages) per day for a month and a half and I’m way to invested. They are family now (even the Kokkiden consort. I haven’t forgotten the malicious lies she told, but I’ll smile and be nice for now).

I’m gonna go watch trailers of Wes Anderson movies (as none of them are on HBO so I cannot watch the real deal). I’ll leave you with a few lists of yesteryear. Note to self; tag Christmas stuff better as to make it easier to find.

This isn’t about Christmas per se but a lot of things from the Asian Supermarket make for a nice present or sticking stuffer.

Gift guide 2016; On the wall

Gift guide 2016; On the vanity 

Gift guide 2016; On the hangers

Gift guide 2016; On the bar cart

Gift guide 2016; On the table

-Suss

Saturday&Spirits

IMG_5476I had plans to make sloe gin but my excursions have come up short of berries; there aren’t that much sloes on the bushes because the spring was so cold, and what little is  I’ll leave for the birds. Instead I decided to go all in with the quince liqueur this autumn.

Quinces I bought at the market, I went with a less expensive cognac but not the cheapest because in my experience that’s just nasty. It’s worth spending a little extra on this, especially since I’m thinking about giving some away as Christmas presents.

I’ve made this before with light rum and spices, with cognac and spices and this time it’s just fruit and booze. And a little sugar. The real sweetening however is done in six weeks time, and then it can be adjust to taste. The first recipe I used was from the web, this is a pared down version of that from The wonderful weekend book by Elspeth Thompson.

Quince brandy-based liqueur; yields almost 1 liter in the end

750 ml cognac/brandy (spend as much as you feel you can afford)

1 large quince

4 tablespoons of castersugar

  1. Rinse and dry the fruit. Then spilt it in quarters.
  2. Put the fruit pieces in a clean 1 liter jar, add the sugar and the pour the cognac/brandy over it. Closer the lid.
  3. Let infuse for at least six weeks.
  4. After six weeks; pour through a sieve and add around 2 dl of freshly made sugar syrup to the cognac/brandy, stir so it blends and put into clean bottles.

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This is so easy to make, and such a great thing to have. Impossible to buy something similar in the shops. I’ve made several cocktails with it but just mixed with some champagne it’s wonderful.

-Suss

Weekend&What I managed to snag from the ErdemxHM collection

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I can’t really believe it either; I got up early yesterday and made it by an H&M before getting on with my day. And then at the end of the day I went back for another bout of shopping. My bank account probably thought is was “mad, bad and dangerous to know”. But I’ve earned that money and I rarely shop anyways. Yes, I have thoughts on H&M (and the efficacy of their sustainability work) but more importantly the effects of overconsumption in which I think there is an individual responsibility. However, the things I bought will most certainly be used and I have high hopes in terms of quality.

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I rarely get excited about these designer collaborations, I watch from afar and have snagged a few pieces over the years. A few things have also been picked up second-hand, it’s not always hysterical prices on eBay and similar sites, the prices there are not always outrageous. I have also used a few of those pieces until they fell apart (as I’m wont to do). I did find a Stella MacCartneyxHM coat in perfect condition in a consignment store once, I regret not buying that as it was very nice, especially for 1000 kr (and how had kept it like that for what? 10 years?). I personally think that the long-term collectors value of these pieces is somewhat overrated, but I might be wrong. Short term though? the hype kicks in and people get a little crazy.

I had forgotten how poorly I handle situations where a sort of plebiscite mentality is the norm, and even encouraged. It started to come back to me when I was standing outside, and the queue wasn’t that long, so I could hear the staff start to clap their hands and count down very loudly to create excitement. A few people rushed in, but most of us very like “chill staff, we are trying to shop”. But there were a lot of shoppers and I had enough very quickly. Taking something to try on was out of the question. I bought a few things; scarf, socks and sparkly brooch, and then left.

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However my eyes on the town sent a message that there was quite a few things left in store in the afternoon, and not much of a crowd, so off I went.

Ended up trying on several things (as witnessed by my changing room selfies). Ended up with one dress (not included) and the trousers. I will think of the coats fondly, because I love a nice coat, but the first was a bad fit on me all things considered (and I really would prefer a homemade leopard print kimonojacket) and the latter was just too big. I need a cool blogger life for that to be useful. Now I will spend all my time trying to find the blazer coordinating with the trousers. And wearing that brooch on everything (everything!).

-Suss

 

 

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

Monday&My seven fave chapter names from Tale of Genji

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Reading Tale of Genji is a joy so far. I’m not even halfway yet (but almost) so my final thoughts are still weeks away but right now I’m digging it. I should be reading it with pen in hand because there are so many lovely descriptions of clothes and objects that I want to go back to, and I’ve found a few expressions that sound like cocktails already, but when I read it it’s with my heart and I lose myself in the text. My brain notices the genius but my soul is to engaged for me do something about it. I will have to reread at some point, or try to skim through looking for things I liked in the text.

One thing that is easy to find (it’s on a page of its own), and that I find pleasure in are the names of the chapters in this book. Considering there are 54 chapters not all of them are brilliant, but enough to give you a glimpse of the poetic language, the esthetic emphasis and the emotional character of the book. Any of these might turn up as drink at my house.

  1. Chapter  4; The lady of the evening faces. Some kind of champagne cocktail maybe? Evening face to me means lipstick and I keep thinking about Conigliaro’s “Lipstick rose”. Maybe that’s an angle.
  2. Chapter 11; The lady at the villa scattering orange blossoms. A dash of orange blossom water in a drink automatically make me think of a Ramos gin fizz. There is stuff to work with there.
  3. Chapter 15; A ruined villa of Tangled gardens. This chapter I have already read and it is indeed the prequel to “Grey gardens” minus the raccoons. Don’t know how to turn it into a cocktail yet.
  4. Chapter 24; An imperial excursion. Champagne, some Cognac V.S.O.P and something else. Only the best is my point.
  5. Chapter 41; Spirit summoner. I guess some absinth wouldn’t be amiss in this one?
  6. Chapter 47; A Bowknot tied in Maidens’s loops. Roll with the puns and use Bowmore whiskey? Make a twist on a Maiden’s kiss?
  7. Chapter 53; Practicing calligraphy. I could do something spectacular with the egg white foam with this one.

So I will be reading this book for some time and talking about it for even longer. I can get obsessed with certain books, that’s just the way it is. Something else that I talk about often, I guess, is how much I love the combination of green and pink and how much I adore Japanese prints.IMG_5124

The one side by side with the book(in the beginning of the blogpost) was a gift, one that is now framed and placed next to my Sonia Delauney poster. It has all come togheter nicely.

-Suss

Vendredi&Vin chaud

The other morning when I left the house I noticed that it was nippy out, to the point that I should have either worn my winter coat or put on my little down west underneath the coat I was wearing. Luckily I had a big wooly scarf, and my little thermos of coffee, nice and toasty I was, huddled up with my book in the corner of the train. You can make anywhere cosy if you have good books and coffee.

Later that day however I was shivering in a bad way. Someone had lured me out on a walk in the nice autumn sun, and it was nice as long as we were putting one fot in front of the other. The minute I was standing and waiting for the underground I curled up desperatley in my scarf, and at that point the sun was rapidly disappearing and with it any warmth it brought.

So when I got home I was both hungry and cold, and very much in the need for comfort food. I ended up mixing two things (some left over ragu and one small portion of vegetable stew) I had in the freezer which I ate with pressed potatoes which really is one of the best side orders; fluffy carbs and so light compared to mashed potatoes (which I love don’t get me wrong but there is a lot of butter in that one)

While I was waiting for the whole thing to be ready I made myself some Vin chaud and read entries from Life is meals a food lover’s book of days by James and Kay Salter. I’ve mentioned this book before of course, and I will again. At this point I’ve read all the little sections for different days at least twice. It’s such a lovely kitchen companion, just the right amount to read in between, and so so good for my mood, always.

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Vin chaud; serves two

Mix equal amounts of red wine and boiling hot water in a heat proof glasses ,approx. 2 deciliter of each depending on what glasses you are using (so each glass 1 dl wine+1 dl hot water), and then add 1 teaspoon of caster sugar to each glass, stir, and then garnish with a thin slice of lemon on top. Serve and enjoy responsibly!

This is a very nice aperitif during this time of year as it is quite light, not a lot of sugar and spices as the glow later in the season. It’s easy to make too, which is an added bonus. Why more bars in this town don’t serve it is beyond me, French bistros do however, that’s how I learned about it in the first place. If you want a non-alcoholic option I will always think fondly of blackberry cordial and boiling water with some lemon and possibly cinnamon mixed up.

Now if you excuse me I have to get out some extra blankets, socks and locate the hot water flask because winter is coming, soon.

-Suss