Monthly Archives: March 2013

In the midst of Easter, life after this  is a  relevant  topic. In this regard, the material world is just a  very concrete reflection of the universe. A nice containing nutshell. A frame of reference for the bigger picture.

I needed a small handbag, just big enough to fit a couple of necessary things and I saw my sister sporting one that was very close to my specs.  She had paid  five Swedish crowns for it at a flea market.

So we set out scouting up small handbags at the numerous second-hand stores of Uppsala. Finally, at one of our expeditions at the  Red Cross, my sister turned to me and asked, “You wanted a bag that looked like mine, didn’t you?”  She then pointed at  a perfectly identical bag for the outrageous price of ten crowns.

Karma, kismet, destiny all snug  in a fake leather  bag.

A cup and a real leather bag made in Guatemala were added to my  shopping cart. The lot cost me the price of two lattes in town.

handybagWhen I come to think of it, my contact with second-hand, or second-life as I prefer to call it, goes way back in time. My most recent apartment was furnished with some things old, some things new, some things borrowed and some things blue. Quite literally.

newoldcupPersonal style, sustainable living and tight budgets are all very good reasons for giving obsolete items a chance to a new life.

My little purple bag was my debut purchase from the apparel department. I am not a big fan of shopping and I find the multitude of impressions from rack after rack of clothes in different shapes and colours  overwhelming.

However, I just need to think of  the 8 kg of textiles that Swedes dispose of per year per capita, or the 2 kg of chemicals and 10.000 liters of water it takes to produce a new pair of  jeans and I am converted on the spot.

helpinghandAfter all, second-hand shopping is a bit  like daring destiny on a  blind date. You don’t know what it keeps in store for you.  There is something  flirtatious about all the items that are waiting for someone to pick them up and turn their past into a new bright future.

Things accompany us in our daily lives,  but we are not  Made of Things as my wise little sister would say or rather, sing.

There is a lot of beauty in letting redundant things go. Suddenly  space is made for the new.

Song composed by Sadness Theory.

Second hand shopping in Uppsala / Sweden :  the Red Cross, Myrorna, Bäckar Små, Helping Hand


Having a sister is having someone who can go back in time and tell your story. The parts of it that are unknown to other people.

She will be your biggest fan and you will  be her role model. Then she will claim her right to her own personality and unmask your shortcomings. She will make you a more mature person and you will come to admire her more and more, because life is not a line, rather a loop of redemption.

You will be like cats and dogs at times, but always stick up for each other. You will compete for others’ attention until you realise that it is your own attention and confirmation that you are seeking. Later on in life, you will realise that there is nothing as special and as tricky as a sister’s friendship.

The biggest lesson she can teach you  is that superficial differences of character are not that important; what binds you to people is the affinity of shared principles and interests. When you realise that your way is not the only right one, a bigger world opens before you. A more difficult one maybe, because you have to confront your ego, and learn  to act with a certain humility. You do not have to fear though, because your sister will be your true mirror and guide you on the way.

SistersTogether you can recollect common episodes from the past and laugh at the same anecdotes. You can share the concern for someone you both love, support each other in difficult moments and share the joy of personal progress.

Regardless of age, you will still once in a while drive each other nuts. What I am learning every time is that it is better to let go. No reason to fuss over superficial sources of irritation. The value of a relationship is measured in the extent in which it makes you think differently, develop and, in the end,  feel more confident in your self and in your choices.

Being a sister to a sister is like an ongoing course in personal development if you play your cards well.

A spring day in late March,  my sister came into my life and I do not remember how it was without her.  She is so close to me, and yet uniquely different, a person in her own right. Our paths cross, and we get to walk parts of this road together.

Today, on her special day, I will be able to give her a  big hug. My love for her  is  not a secret, nor a subject for the headlines – it is a fact and it is there. A silent, steady, sisterly flame.

The other day I went for a long walk in the cold with a mission – buying myself some fairtrade, organic loose black tea. Motivation definitively upgrades any experience. A little carrot  that can make you spite the low temperatures and fully enjoy being outside cannot be a bad thing…

Fyris frozenI compromised with a  labelled  organic tea, and I walked home with my newly acquired bag of Earl Grey. I really appreciate how the subtle scent of bergamot pervades the harshness of the fermented tea leaves.

snow topsI have taken on a new habit you see. I am an early riser. These days I get up way before seven am.  So, after having had breakfast I make myself a big cup of tea  and take it with me to the sofa where I spend some time unwinding and gradually preparing my spirit for the day.

bed teaBy 9.15 am yesterday, I had already been studying for a couple of hours and managed four batches of laundry. All thanks to my magic brew. If I manage to find a good tea combining the qualities of organic and fairtrade, satisfaction will be complete.

The past weeks horse meat  has been a hot potato. As the scandal of unsolicited traces of horse meat in various marketed foods unfolds around Europe, Swedish journalists report an increased interest in tracing the origin of meat consumed. The demand for ecological and locally produced meat is on the upswing.

Meat spamming has had a clear impact on consumer awareness. Things are a bit simpler when you do not eat meat, but making informed consumer choices is never a piece of cake.

I share the interest in good quality food and I believe in eating  locally and seasonally whenever possible. Our consumer patterns contribute to creating demand and influence food policy decisions.

It is difficult to be a purist in a world that has become more and more global. Discovering new tastes and cuisines is a source of joy and a ticket to intercultural contacts and understanding.

I remember once mentioning the importance of eating seasonal food to my grandfather. “Yes, but there are no fruit in Sweden in the winter”, was his immediate reaction. And he was right. After a  retreat in the Canary islands, my grandmother had taken on the habit of serving a  plate of fresh fruit  for breakfast.  Apples, pears and papayas would mingle in perfect harmony on white china.

I understand how the abundance and variety of food available must have felt like a revolution for my grandfather’s generation. Tasting exotic fruit must have been as exciting as reading novels at a time when TV did not exist. Small windows to the big world.

My generation has to face a different phase in evolution. Prospering without growth quoting Tim Jackson.

So, whenever I can, I pay my due respects to raw materials that I have easy access to. I try to pick vegetables that are local and seasonal. Then I use my imagination and an artillery of spices to explore their potential.

salladCabbage is an excellent example. This  humble passepartout vegetable is a cheap health bomb that stays fresh for weeks. Yet, we do not always remember to include it in our shopping lists.

In winter time, my family often makes pickled cabbage salad. First you have to grate the cabbage finely. You can add grated carrots and radish and fine pieces of celery. Sprinkle with parsley. Then add some flake salt and knead the mix.  By squeezing out the juices, the vegetables become soft and tender.

The salad can be kept it in the fridge for days and as time passes, the pickled taste comes forward. Dress it with lemon and oil and see before you how your body is about to get a health boost.

It only takes a good squeeze.

I often get ideas of creative handicraft. Things that I could do with my hands. Somehow they rarely materialise because of other things that get priority. I can  feel the impending guilt from time to time. The curse of expectations.

On the other hand,  I often entertain myself by choosing mainly locally produced vegetables and fruit at the supermarket with the intention of transforming them into something exciting.

A spur of creativity that naturally fits into my daily routines.

It may be an attempt on Indian korma and aloo gobi, or the Japanese inspired dinner of some days ago. For the latter, I selected the easiest recipes out of a Japanese cook-book. Salted grilled fish and rice. Yes. Following a recipe for cooking rice. Quite unlike me.


Perfecting my skills on a set of selected dishes is one of my 2013 resolutions.  I am quite whimsical in cooking. Have been experimenting since the age of ten I think. Never fearful of trying out a new combination. But now I want to be able to cook some dishes with eyes closed. I am looking for mastery of proportions and guaranteed success. Know my teaspoons, millilitres, deciliters, scoops and degrees by heart and from the heart.

I find it a great gift. The power of food to awaken the senses and revive memories. Just like that.

sesame sprinkleA simple evening dish with humble European produce took me all the way back to Japan. The simplicity of the poached leek, the grated cabbage, the salted fish and the sesame sprinkled rice produced a little miracle, despite my inexperience.

I felt immensely grateful for the chance I have been given to know people and places and to bring them around the dinner  table with me.

Sunday was a cold day. Crisp like a bag of  frozen vegetables. The sun’s charming smile lured us out on a looong walk. The pleasure of moving.

walkI wore my new blue rubber boots and stepped on thin layers of cracking ice and walked in puddles of water.   Rubber boots are a great invention.

frozenΙn the evening we hosted a little dinner party with soup and waffles.

veggie paletteWe joined waffle irons and to our amusement we discovered that we had reunited Melissa Black and Melissa White in a yin and yan harmony of runny dough.

Melissa Yin and Melissa YanblueberrybananawaffleYes, the day was nice. Sometime during what felt like the middle of the night, our upstairs neighbours started partying. Listening to loud music and jumping up and down. Pressing the repeat button. Jumping up and down to the same song. I had fantasies of turning into the psycho neighbour, but did not have the courage to move out of bed. Sometimes the spirit is willing, while  the body is weak.

Then, I got up at 6:40 on Monday morning and felt totally awake and rested. Waking up early is not a novelty. I usually wake up around five o’ clock and stay in bed until at least 6:30, usually lacking mental presence before that.

IMG_0484beansandavocadoIt is barely 10 o’clock and I have already been busy for three hours. Maybe some bad pop music in the late night IS the trick and I should be grateful to my unconscientious neighbours.

By the way, if you ever want to make great  waffles that happen to also be glutenfree, mix 3 dl of maizena with 1 tsp of salt, 1 tsp of baking powder. Add 3 dl of milk, or experiment with a dairy alternative. Add 3 tbs of oil and two eggs. Bake and most importantly, enjoy!

Friday evening. The most sacred day of the working week. In these coordinates, Friday cosiness is an institution.

Kick back and relax. Have some snacks watching a movie. Cook a special dinner. Leave the dishes in the sink. Eat the candy you shun in the week.  Meet the friends for a bite and a drink. Light candles. Dream of the weekend. Forget about the ticking of the clock. Buy flowers. Sit back on the couch surrounded by family.

FridayThe more I think of it, the more I don’t know what is so good about a week being over.

Not being subdued by  time is a relief. Not being aware of how time flies is a blessing and a curse.

I will tell you a big secret now. Listen. Every day is a Friday.


Clockwise, otherwise & likewise

The Chick on a Pea

Clockwise, otherwise & likewise

Sadness Theory

Music with passion for the environment

zee pause café

taking a moment, having a coffee, writing down some thoughts