December 31, 2009

Happy Ding Dong New Year, or The Seeds That Have Been Planted

From my favorite Beatle, George Harrison, to you, a Happy New Year & Ding Dong! 

I really have the feeling that 2010 is going to be a fantastic year, and do you know why? Because it has to.
Something better is bound to come after a 2009 that was hard for many in many ways. Plus, the signs are already there. It's starting to happen. The seeds are planted. Great things are starting to grow. (At least in my Hippie Garden:)

I want to say a Happy Happy New Year to all of you from the bottom of my heart. Blogging has given me hope when it wasn't anywhere else to be found, and it's amazing to see how many truly beautiful souls are out there. To a Happy New 2010, and to many more to come.


December 30, 2009

Brief Encounters

I think I met someone. I mean, I know for a fact that I met someone. I meet people every day, but this someone feels more special than the others. All the signs are there.
There are a couple of problems however:

1. I only met him once. It was brief but electric.
2. I might not ever see him again. We live in very different parts of the world.
3. I don't really know him at all. But I want to. And my mind is happily staying active by gluing together the pieces of information that I do have, spiced up with some imaginary, albeit likely, facts. I try to make it stop, but you know how it is, it can be hard.

Now, I'm trying to be smart about this one. Telling myself that I'm a grownup now, a grownup who doesn't need her imagination to run out of control (wishful thinking). But I still find myself agreeing with myself that he and I would have the best kids in the world.

Is this what comes with the internationalisation (is that even a word?) of the world? Lots of people must be going through this all the time as we travel more and more and global has become local.

As I'm pondering upon how to be a bit cool about the whole thing, and seeing what real possibilities there might actually be, I think he'll just have to be my imaginary dream prince for now. Just for a while.


December 27, 2009

Christmas in the Swedish Country

Sometimes a snowy christmas feels like a little christmas gift from someone up there. Or something like that. People just seem to get really happy by being surrounded by white, cold fluff, myself included.
This year, the weather on the 24th couldn't have been better. I'm talking sun, blue skies, layers and layers of crispy white snow, enough of it to make you feel as if it was just there for you and yours only. It looked something like this:

I finally got what all those frosty plastic apples in the stores are supposed to be!

December 25, 2009

That Clicking Sound

Some people love the sound of their own voice, but I just love the sound of my own typing.

I just got home from the movies where I watched Julie & Julia (late, I know) for the first time, and as the film seems inclined to do, it inspired me to blog. And to cook. Even though I would never attempt to bone a duck or tie it for that matter either in my own kitchen, putting those potatoes in the oven is going to be a lot more enjoyable than on a normal, none movie-going day (although today is more about leftovers, really). Thank you Nora Ephron!

It also inspired me to write a little on the blog, or rather, let me specify: It inspired me to write, so that I could hear the sound, the wonderful clicking typing sound, that comes from typing on a PC. That's right: A Mac computer simply does not offer this pleasure, but a PC does. I own a Mac. Right now I'm typing on a PC, and I'm telling you, it is g r e a t. Loving it. Nothing like it.
So my note to self and wish for 2010 will be: To replace my 10 year old (!) Mac for a PC. Doesn't have to be big, luxurious or ultra-fast in any way, just needs to offer a delicious clicking sound. Shouldn't be too hard to find, right?

Hope you're all having a wonderful holiday!


December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas

The time has finally come, and Christmas is here. No more posting of daily Christmas songs (phew) or wrapping of gifts, but all the more time for a stupendous time filled with love, food and companionship (or whatever one wants to fill it with).

Wherever you are, whatever you're doing and whatever you believe in, I wish you the best of the best, a relaxing Christmas (or time off) and many wishes that can come true for 2010.

It's been a hard year for many, and now there's hopefully time to take a moment to look back, reassess, and make new choices. We all learn something new every day, I have learnt incredibily much during 2009 and that's why I say 2009: Thank you! Without you, I wouldn't be where I am today. 
 Here's a beautiful song, the one I had saved for last for my self invented Christmas extravaganza, probably the reason I posted a song every day, so I could have a grand finale with this one: Christmas Must Be Tonight, by The Band. Please take a moment to hear it, if only for their great harmonies:)

 Come down to the manger, see the little stranger
Wrapped in swaddling clothes, the prince of peace
Wheels start turning, torches start burning
And the old wise men journey from the East

How a little baby boy bring the people so much joy
Son of a carpenter, Mary carried the light
This must be Christmas, must be tonight

A shepherd on a hillside, while over my flock I bide
Oh a cold winter night a band of angels sing
In a dream I heard a voice saying "fear not, come rejoice"

How a little baby boy bring the people so much joy
Son of a carpenter, Mary carried the light
This must be Christmas, must be tonight

I saw it with my own eyes, written up in the skies
But why a simple herdsmen such as I
And then it came to pass, he was born at last
Right below the star that shines on high

How a little baby boy bring the people so much joy
Son of a carpenter, Mary carried the light
This must be Christmas, must be tonight

Merry Christmas All!


December 22, 2009

D.I.Y. Snow Angel!

Here's some creative fun to have for free in the freshly fallen snow: Snow Angels!

Here's a quick how-to: 

Find some untouched snow and run to the perfect, selected spot.

Throw yourself right into the snow.

 Start repeatedly waving arms and legs against the snow up and down.

 Take a break when you feel the angel has taken the desired shape.

Admire your work!

Tada! Snow Angel 2010. Make as many as you wish!

A Different Christmas... something we get from Joni Mitchell in this song, River. (Btw, it's actually mentioned in You've got Mail:)

December 18, 2009

Filmclub Totale!

Well, I have to admit that I sort of put pressure on myself by creating my blog film club for Fridays.
I mean, honestly, wouldn't any day of the week have been ok? Day of the month even?
No, over achiever as I tend to be, I had to set the bar for myself and make Friday the Day.
Didn't consider that Fridays are usually pretty busy days. Days where you want to be able to do things you don't really get to do between Monday through Thursday. Hm.
So, anyway, Friday is in my time zone over in a couple of hours (no partying tonight), and I still haven't posted the post. 
(By the way, as I'm writing this I realize that I'm completely exposing my inner perfectionist, but hey, nobody's perfect, right?).

So here's what I'll do:
I'll name the movie.
I'll post the pictures.
I'll write a reason or two to see it (or not).
And that will have to be it.

Here we go:

As you may have heard, there's a movie called Nine coming out. It looks fun. It's a musical. It's based on this film, a non-musical: 

Eight and a Half (Otto e mezzo)
By Federico Fellini.

The first time I saw it, I found it confusing, long and pretty boring. Second time, when I didn't take it too seriously, I thought it was pretty hilarious at times. It's actually entertaining:) And interesting. Pretty great actually. One could even see it just to compare with the new one!

Something came in the mail...

...and it was this lovely, lovely postcard from Suzie Chaney over at black eyed angel. It just really warms my heart to think that this blog thing is kind of real, that we're all real people out there connecting through the internet in a highly personal way. Isn't that pretty cool? Who would have thought that fifteen years ago?
As you may know, Suzie is an awesome artist living in France, and she makes really cool art and illustration of all kinds. The variety of her work is big, and there's a lot to look at.. Also, the pictures on there, that I unfortunately couldn't find a way to post on here,  do her work a lot more justice than my little snapshot:) I placed the card by my bookshelf, I felt that those were somehow a pair of stockings fitting with books.
Suzie also has a website where you can see and get her stuff too!


December 14, 2009

Lucia Day!

Christmas is blossoming  here on the blog!
I'm one day late in writing about this, but I thought I'd tell you about another Swedish December tradition, this one maybe slightly more fascinating than the Advent candle holders. Or so I hope at least:)
This time, I did my background research, and though Lucia is not only celebrated in Sweden, it's definitely not as popular anywhere else as here. So here we go!

(Saint Lucy's Day)
Celebrated on the 13th of December

So this basically goes way back to 300 AD in Syracuse, Italy. Lucia was a woman who helped Christians hiding in the catacombs during the Roman empire. As she walked through dark caves with supplies for the people hiding there, she needed her hands free to carry. As she couldn't see anything for the darkness, she solved it by putting a crown of candles on her head.
After her death, she was made saint, and she has become a sort of symbol for light, and therefore it might be understandable how this particular tradition, in the dark month of December in Sweden, has become a very important and celebrated one.

It's celebrated in two different versions depending on who's participating: The children or the grown-ups.

The grown up version is supposed to be only with women in the group, all dressed in white traditional long night gowns. Lucia walks in front of the group, leading them through the darkness (they're all holding real lit candles in their hands, except for Lucia who has the candle crown on her head), singing a selection of very old and traditional songs acapella. Who gets chosen to be Lucia is similar to some kind of pageant, and she's going to have to risk her hair catching fire (even though there are usually big safety measures taken), as well as afterwards getting rid of a lot of dried wax that run down her hair during the celebration.
The overall impression of the 'Luciatag' is very cozy and beautiful.

                                                    Mini Lucia!  (pictures from LinusLotta)

The kids version is a bit less uptight and fun. The real candles are exchanged for electric ones, and both boys and girls participate. In addition to the nightgowns, the children aldo dress out as Gingerbread people (my favorites) and Santa's helpers. This is a big deal in kindergarden and elementary school, and the children spend weeks rehearsing the songs and the movements for the final 'performance' on the 13th,  for which all the parents and relatives invited.

                                                   Gingerbread Man! (pictures from LinusLotta)


Here's a video of grownies to give an idea...

It's a bit hard to explain all this, but all I can say is that it's really special and kind of magical.

On the 13th, the streets are full of people and kids wearing white and funny hats, and it's now we know that Christmas is really on it's way!

December 12, 2009

Filmclub Totale Part Deux!

I know I said the Filmclub was going to be on Fridays, but I just didn't make it in time, so it's Friday Filmclub, on a Saturday!

Today's film is one of my absolute favorite films, ever. It's beautiful in so many ways, and it tells a real story.
Basquiat was released in 1996 and was the painter/director Julian Schnabel's debut film. (He then went on to do Before Night Falls and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly).
It tells the story of the artist Jean-Michel Basquiat in the eighties in New York, his ups and downs and friendship with Andy Warhol (greatly played by David Bowie!). He was incredibly talented and his paintings are exceptional and often moving.
The film is sad, but it's not a downer. It's also interesting in terms of how it depicts the art world and fame. Don't want to say too much except that it's strongly recommended!!
The speaker voice in the trailer doesn't really correspond much to the movie, but what are you gonna do?

December 10, 2009

You can't always get what you want

You know how sometimes in life, we can’t always get what we want?
Well, I’m in one of those situations right now. I’m not complaining, but if I could choose, this would not be my first choice.
I’m talking about my job. What I do for a living, to stay organized and grown up.
I’ve had this problem before, the difficulty in combining my dreams with my reality. Sometimes I wonder if it’s even possible. I know that it is, but like I said, one can't always get what one wants.

I started a new job not too long ago, and I feel it’s consuming me. I get so caught up in what I do, that so many things that are really important to me become secondary or even non existent. But then again, in times like these, I know I am lucky to even have a job.

I guess balance is the key word here. 

Therefore I thought I should ask you guys, if someone recognizes this kind of situation, and has a good way of managing it? I know I’m not being very specific here, but you know, in general:)

However it may be, how do you cope with your different obligations and dreams? Big one, I know..

December 6, 2009

Books for Holiday Gift Shopping!

The New York Times just released a bunch of good holiday gift shopping lists for 2009. My favorite list is the the 10 Best Books of 2009, feels like you can't go wrong there. Also the best Illustrated Children's books of 2009! Something for everyone I think. Lovely!

Dickens Flickr

Bed Shui

You know how I wrote about not being able to sleep? Well, I got all kinds of great tips from you guys and I really appreciate that.
But yesterday, I moved my bed. I had been moving furniture around all day long, and I didn't like where I had put my bed, so I moved it too. Guess what? I slept like a log. It was amazing!
So, there you have it, a very simple change, I think this would be Bed Shui. Thank you Bed Shui.


December 5, 2009

Sleepless in Stockholm

Does anyone know whether milk actually helps when one is having problems sleeping? I mean, is there some kind of proof? Or is it just make-believe? It just crossed my mind as I had a glass just now, that what if this actually doesn't do anything. Oh, well. What do you do if you can't sleep? Any tricks?

December 4, 2009

City Stress

As great as cities are, and as much as I love them, I sometimes wish that life was simpler and contained more nature, silence and the sound of birds singing.

It's so easy to get stressed up about the tiniest of things, overload on phone calls and exclamation marks (my specialty). Right now I'm finding myself having difficulties relaxing because there's so much multi-tasking to be done in every day life. Then I try to stop whatever I'm doing for a while and think myself away to some place where things are slower. More peaceful. Quiet.

Sometimes it works.

A friend of mine who lives in a high rise building in the middle of a very big city, once proudly showed me his new plasma HD television (or whatever they're called). It was showing a special channel that's supposed to make you feel like you're surrounded by nature, and that way help you relax. It contained closeups of wet grass and lady bugs and sounds of grasshoppers and birds chirping. Isn't it great? he asked me excitedly. It was pretty great. That's when I knew I needed to get out of the city.

I wish to never have to reach nature through a television. That's my wish for today.

Note to self: Entire post written without a single exclamation mark. 

Flickr bird,  

Introducing Filmclub Totale Friday

Today I’m getting organized and I’m introducing Filmclub Totale Friday! Since I love, love all kinds of movies, and know that many people do, I thought: Why not start a filmclub here on the blog? Exactly, why not! So every Friday, I'll be sharing a favorite film. Today is day one of Filmclub Totale, and let's get right to it:

Because there has been a kind of New York- and book theme here lately, I’m choosing a film to go along with that. It’s a romantic comedy, and I’m sure many of you have already seen it. But I think it can handle a second or third viewing. Drumwhirl….:

You’ve Got Mail

By Nora Ephron

I think this is the epitome of a romantic comedy, the modern day film version of Pride & Prejudice. It’s exactly as it should be. Perfect. The fact that it evolves around bookstores only makes it better. And it takes place in New York, can’t beat that. Did you know that it's a remake of The Shop Around the Corner, made in 1940? I've always wanted to see that, but haven't yet. Here's the trailer for it:

Lines about sharpened pencils and the dancing shoes that are just lovely. The only thing that it doesn’t have is the song Someone Like You, by Van Morrison. That’s a bit of a shame, as that is the perfect song for these kind of films, when the film is approaching The End. Before the couple-to-be realize they just have to be together. In other words, the sad part. But it’s ok, it has other good songs on there.


I say it’s a good one for pre-Christmas December nights. What is your favorite romantic comedy? That is, if you like them at all!

Next Friday, something less predictable..

Bonus: The original Warner Bros website is still up, love how it feels kind of old school now..
All images © Warner Bros.

December 3, 2009

Postcards from New York!

So, those fun and alternative New York City postcards that I mentioned I got at Spoonbill & Sugartown? Well, I did some research and found the photographer and she’s called Geneviève Hafner. Turns out you can get those cards online for not that much, from greatmodernpictures. So great! I think they make really nice wall decorations, and I have many of them in little frames around my house. People always comment on how fun they are! I also found also this blog, The G Road, where she and two other New York photographers post their work, it’s worth a visit. Some of then are very quirky and different.

Not too long ago I saw a TV program about how photographers today, people who have been working as such for fifteen, twenty or more years, are having an increasingly difficult time supporting themselves since the digital camera revolution came onto the scene. I’ve also heard the same thing from photographers I know. Many things that used to be done manually and required hours and hours in the lab can now be performed in a single click through the most basic photo editing program. Not that that’s not fun and not that I want to be reactionary, but I want to make sure to support those out there who do it for a living and who keep the art form alive!

All images ©Genevieve Hafner.

December 2, 2009

French Therapy

You know those days when you’re down and out, and you feel just a little bit disappointed with stuff going on? Well, sometimes, when it’s not too bad really, there can be really easy tricks to put yourself in a better mood. One of my favorite things to do when this happens, and that also has proved very effective, is to watch the film Amelie de Montmartre. I know, I know, it’s been so incredibly talked about and imitated and influential since it came out all those years ago, but the actual film in itself is a real gem. The way it makes you really appreciate the small things in life, and let the magic in. The way it’s not about money, lifestyle, big drama or anything like that, but about love and love for life.
I think it’s important to remind oneself every now and then about those things, I know I need to sometimes anyway. If you haven’t seen the film yet, chances are you’re in for a treat.

And here’s some bonus good news: If you have heard and like the music to the film, there’s this Swedish band, Detektivbyrån (it means the Detective Bureau) that in my opinion makes music quite similar to the film score. Here’s a clip. (Weird video, but anyway:)

Image via je reve donc je suis

Don't worry, the sunshine will come back.

So, I'm trying out the new post editor, and apparently this is how I'm supposed to arrange photos from now on. Interesting. Anyway, winter is really here now as you can see, and today I passed this surprisingly uplifting note on a lamp post, I have to say it really had a positive effect. Thanks, whoever you are!

Pictures by me, Hermione.

December 1, 2009

Blog Honesty

Ok, so now that I got that post out of the way, I can finally relax. Phew.
I have a small confession to make. Ok, it’s not a Confession confession, but you know, it’s something like it. Not a big deal.
I all of a sudden got struck by blog-writers-pressure after my (in my own blog frame of reference) very ambitious book post, and I couldn’t think of anything to write. Ok, I too can think of worse problems to have than that. But all of a sudden, blogging was pressuring! And I’m just doing this for fun.
When no one was reading my blog, like zero people, I was writing posts like nobody’s business (ok, not really true, but you know what I mean), because I knew that no one was going to read them. I had nothing to lose. Now that I know that I have at least a couple of readers, whom I very much value, I kind of panicked. How weird isn’t that? It never happened until now.
So I started thinking if this behavior in any way applies to other areas in my life, and the answer was Yes. Pretty much to everything. As soon as some kind of pressure is added, or something is at stake (whatever that would be), it’s so much harder. When there’s nothing to lose, there’s usually no pressure to not fail.
Why do we do this? Or maybe you don’t do it, I don’t know. But I have a feeling it’s pretty common. Does anyone relate to this, and maybe has a good way for getting rid of those uninvited hangups?

flickr doggie

November 29, 2009

New York Books Extraordinaire!

So, lets get right to it. New York Bookstores. Just the sound of it makes me purr like a cat (and I don’t necessarily love cats, but I don’t know of any other animals that purr). I can already feel the scent of a stack of newly printed editions of some delicious novel right under my nose. Mm, yes please.

When we enter a bookstore, we usually enter a world of fantasy. We've left the real world outside, and are there to enjoy being surrounded by massive amounts of paper with words printed onto them for as long as we like. Great. There are probably thousands and thousands of stories under the very same roof in a bookstore, and they're waiting to be found by someone like you, who’ll make them come alive, and allow them to jump off the page and right into your living room. Amazing, isn't it?

Here are my favorite book spots in New York, chances are you’ve heard of some of them before:)

McNally Jackson,
52 Prince St. (b/t Lafayette & Mulberry)
This shop has a great location, and it’s one of those smaller places where you can find most current and not so current books you might be looking for. Last time I was there, I bought Barack Obama’s two books, Dreams from my Father and the Audacity of Hope. It was in mid 2009. The guy in the register asked me (jokingly) if I had been in a coma for the last two years. Eh, I’m not American, I answered and laughed, and we started talking about Obama. But after I left I was like, wait. What if I actually had been in a coma. Or something. That could have been really awkward. Anyway, they also have a really nice coffee bar, and very nice staff. If you ever happen to find yourself down on Broadway in rush hour and you panic, get yourself in here for some quiet time.

Barnes & Noble,
Union Square (17th Street)
This place became a sort of haven for me, and I ended up going there at least once a week, but usually more, when I could. The whole store has that kind of vibe, and I think a lot of people go there just to hang out on their own in their anonymousness. I remember being worried that the security guards by the entrance would start recognizing me since I was there so often, and suspect me for theft since I usually didn’t buy anything, just browsed. Nothing ever happened though. Like I mentioned before, they also have great events for free.

Strand Bookstore

12th Street and Broadway.
This is a New York classic, probably with the best general selection in the entire city. Cheaper too. Not as cozy as Barnes or McNally, but I would go here to actually buy the book, not just to look at it. Big selection of used and rare books as well. And the nice canvas totes with different prints are a great souvenir and make good gifts. They have a good website too, to get updates on what they’re up to in there, and find out what’s new in books.

Spoonbill & Sugartown
218 Bedford Ave, Williamsburg
Don’t let the website fool you, it’s a great place! And I’m going to say this: Especially for their selection of postcards and stationary. I know you're not supposed to say that about bookshops and I mean, they have great books too, particularly in photography and art (which is their area), but the non-book stuff is great! I always bought fun NY postcards here to send overseas, and all my quirky notebooks are from there as well. The selection of new novels they have is pretty great too, but you know, not in the same way as the other stuff. They have a store cat too.

Pageant Book & Print Shop

They closed their actual physical shop on E 9th street, but they’re still online. If you’ve seen Hannah and her Sisters by Woody Allen, it’s the bookshop where Michael Caine goes browsing for e.e. cummings. I just had to put it in here! Update: Thanks to Rachel's great comment, we now know that they reopened on 69 East 4th Street!

Biography Bookshop
266 Bleecker Street
What can I say, I love this place. Just like an intimate and cozy bookshop should be, and they don’t only sell biographies. Sadly, this year they’ve had to move location from a different part of Bleecker street that now almost only hosts fashion boutiques… Sad. But at least they’re still running!

Housing Works Bookstore Cafe
126 Crosby Street
Bookstore and good cause. There’s a lot you can do to help here, they’re amazing. Housing Works is committed to ending the twin crises of AIDS and homelessness. They run a bunch of different businesses and projects in these areas, and their bookstore has many events and a great coffee shop. Good place, in other words.

New York Public Library.
Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street
It’s just classic. You have to check it out if possible, it’s amazing!

Books of Wonder
18 West 18th Street
Beautiful children's bookstore, it’s kind of magic. It’s really close to Barnes and Noble too, so you can go there on the same book run. They have Storytime on Saturdays at noon, how lovely isn’t that?? Staff sits down with parents and kids and read stories... Wonderful. Kind of like in You’ve Got Mail if you ever saw it? They also teach magic classes, but age limit is 15… Oh, well.

So, yeah, that was it for now… For a city like New York there are obviously tons and tons of little and big bookshops, this was only my little selection for this time. I also realized that it’s a very Goop-ish post, but what can I do? It’s what came out! And I kind of like Goop, most of the time.
Please comment and share your book favorites around the world! I would love to hear them. ♥

Pictures: MCNALLYstrandspoonbillbiographyhousingbooks of wonderbarnespageanthannahhannah Whitaker
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