2017

Status update: a star still shining at the kitchen window, fresh snow and freezing cold. Oh, and just some extra fairy lights.

While it’s pretty hard for me to be optimistic when it comes the political side of things for 2017, I feel determined not to fall into apathy and despair. And since I know I feel best when I’m being creative, I’ve made a little list of creative resolutions for myself.

Drawing along with Eileen in December was really fulfilling. Now committing to posting a finished drawing every day would not be realistic for me. However I think that every week might work, so I’ll try to follow the illustration friday prompts. This week’s topic is “talk”.

talk_bymarion

In my mind these gnomes were always intended to be made with cut paper collage, so here’s the first one (with messy glue stains, un-erased pencil lines and all!)

I’m really looking forward to seeing what you create this year. I’m learning so much from all of you. Thanks for being around, and happy new year!

 

 

 

One Year Of Jam

Home-made jam || by marion

Wild blueberries || by marion

Raspberry and blueberry jam || by marion

Raspberry bushes || by marion

Wild blueberry and raspberry jam || by marion

Wild blueberries in the forest || by marion

Blueberry, raspberry & plum crisp || by marion

Blueberry picking forest view || by marion

Little jars, big milestone!
Last August, I made jam. August is there again: here in the north of Sweden, raspberries and wild blueberries are ripe and delicious. There’s still a jar of jam left from last year, and now I’m making more. Full circle!

On this journey to growing & foraging more of my own food,  the most important lesson I’m constantly learning is to lower my expectations and set reasonable goals.

Making one year’s worth of jam was my goal for last year. It was reasonable: raspberry bushes grow on their own in our garden, requiring zero maintenance except one yearly trimming. As for blueberries, well, the forest all around is full of them.

We’re celebrating the new berry season with Natalie’s fruit oatmeal crisp. Let me tell you, it’s delicious. After investing in a berry-picker comb, we set a new reasonable goal for this year: make another year’s worth of jam, plus freeze some fresh berries to enjoy next winter.

This is nothing like self-sufficiency, but there’s something so deeply satisfying about seeing those jars pile up. Not too little, not too much, just what we need plus some to give as gifts. Growing our own food, one little step at a time.

My super simple wild blueberry/raspberry jam

  • Servings: about 3 jars
  • Time: about 20 minutes
  • Print

This is how I make my summer berries jam. I don’t even use any special jam sugar or additional pectin, but usually it sets just fine. I reuse peanut butter jars (such as pictured above) I save all year long. While I cook the jam, I sterilize the jars by putting them in the oven at 100°C for about 20 minutes.

Ingredients

  • 800 g crystal sugar (I use organic white sugar)
  • 1 kg fresh berries
  • 1 squeeze of lemon juice

Directions

Mix all ingredients in a large pot. While stirring, bring to a boil, boil until a foam forms, rises on the sides of the pot and falls again. Reduce the heat and boil for a 5-10 more minutes while stirring. Pour still hot into sterilized jars. Close the jars and put them upside down to cool. The jam will seem liquid but will set as it cools.

 


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May Snapshots

birch leaves With may came green leaves,

field green fields,

seedlings and tiny green seedlings.

splitting firewood There was firewood to cut and split.

rainbow One day there was a rainbow.

blooming tree The tree started blooming.

evening walk I went on many evening walks.

sunset The days got longer and longer,

early morning mist and now there are bright nights and this early morning mist is back.


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A Bike Ride

bike shadow

bumpy road sign

forest sweden

moss

forest long exposure

västerbotten spring landscape

forest

moss

river

wild geese

The snow and ice are gone, and I went for a ride. Raced through the forest, stopped to listen to the silence. Heard birds. Smelled newly cut trees. Heard water running. Smelled moss and wet earth. Saw wild geese in the fields. Felt sun and wind on my skin. It felt good.


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Promises Made | Books

Les chaussures italiennes, par Henning Mankell

This past Christmas, instead of giving things, I made promises. I still haven’t finished my list of new year’s resolutions, but I already have this one entry: keep them — and I’m looking forward to a little bit of reading, sewing, knitting, walking and picture taking every month for the year to come.

My dad and I are going to read a book of his choosing every month and share our impressions. As a warm-up, he lent me his copy of Italian Shoes by Henning Mankell. I read the first half on a train journey across France during the holidays, and after a short interruption to devour a delightful essay in praise of home lovers, I finished it yesterday.

I liked the first half best, because it made me curious to see where the story would go, while I thought the second half was a bit more predictable. My favorite thing was the setting – did I mention already that am a sucker for the forests of North Sweden and islands in the Baltic sea? – and I also quite liked the main character.

What about you? Do you have any books to recommend?
Where do you get ideas of books to read? I spotted many novels I’d like to read in Ida’s reading lists recently.
Also, I really liked this post today.


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Winter Is Upon Us

Window frost feathers

The temperature dropped down to -23°C/-9°F last night and when we woke up, before sunrise, the inside thermometer read barely 10°C/50°F. But the wood stove was soon roaring, hot cups of tea were poured and porridge was bubbling.

By the look of things, there’s no point trying to open the front door: frozen!

I spent the morning finishing my book and trying out some knitting tricks. I went back to my watercolor lettering experiments in the afternoon. Cleaning and straightening up a couple of calligraphy nibs was definitely useful to avoid ruining the paper, but did not solve the annoying ink (well, paint) flow problem I had. The paint kept forming a drop at the back of the nib instead of flowing onto the paper, which back in the lab, I would have called a surface tension issue – typical! Dipping the tip of the nib in soapy water did the job. If anyone knows about unwanted long-term effects of adding soap to watercolors, I’ll be really happy to know.

Now I need to practice shaping letters and layout. That’s tonight’s program, and I’m off to my desk! The house is getting (a bit) warmer, freshly baked loaves of bread just came out of the oven where they were replaced by a pot of baked-beans-to-be. Really, I wouldn’t trade this life for any other one.

a cat on the desk


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Fresh Thyme And A Pile Of Books

Cotoneaster

Happy New Year, you all!

2015 ended with family gatherings and picking fresh thyme in the French alps, long walks in a city filled with good memories and a pile of books I had never read before.

The alarm went off in the wee hours on the first day of 2016, for we had a plane home to catch (well, technically, two).

Blame it on the lack of sleep, I still haven’t realized that a new year is there. One of these days I’ll sit down with a cup of coffee, looking back into 2015, dreaming about 2016 and I’ll write down a thing or two. Things for myself to remember, and things I’m looking forward to. I’ll make resolutions I will stick to, and crazy ones I probably won’t, but who knows?

But so far, I’ve been cozying up next to the wood burning stove, sipping a warm cup of ginger, thyme and honey tea and devouring another good book. Catching up on sleep and waking up to fresh snow. It’s been such a nice, peaceful start of the year.

And for now, thank you, thank you so much for your visits and comments here! I’m sending you warm wishes, and I’m looking forward to seeing all the words and images you’ll be sharing this year. May 2016 be a good one!

Where Are You From? What Do You Do?

Cat paw prints in the frost

Frost on the grass

Swedish winter light

“Why Sweden?” people ask, and I say “I don’t know”, “long story”, or “why not?”. It’s because of that light, really. I have never been good at answering these kinds of questions.

“Where in France are you from?”
“Here is where I was born.”
“But this accent of yours?”
“Ah, yes, I got it from where my family is from.”
“Oh, so that’s where you grew up?”
“No, no, I’ve never lived there.”
“Where did you study, then?”
“Here. And there.”
“Is that where are you going “home for Christmas”?”
“Er, no, actually…”

Except for these somewhat confused conversations, I’ve never suffered from the fact that I just don’t have a straightforward answer to the where are you from question.

It feels like a wealth rather than a gap in my life. For a while — not anymore — I considered it a superiority. That was extremely arrogant, but I clung to it as a desperate reassurance that my life was what I wanted it to be – which it wasn’t.

Unhappy as I was in the lab, every time I stepped outside to make my way to the campus, Iooking at the light, the snow, and the colorful houses, I couldn’t help but say to myself: this is where I want to live, and here I am.

***

It’s the second winter in the little red house up North, away from the lab. It feels better than the first one. It feels good. I feel at peace with myself. I mean, have you seen that light?

***

Now for the what do you do question…

… well, one thing at a time.

Frozen droplets

Misty winter view

Click, Click, Click

Winter light in my desk nookFor a few precious minutes, rays of winter light came into the house. Into my desk nook,

Winter light in the kitchen into the kitchen,

Winter light in the hallway into the hallway. I walked around with my camera. Click, click, click.

Here is a similar post from last year.

Winter light on the wall


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On My Desk

handlettering_draft

Academic Greetings - A Set of 5 Cards by Alpha Angle

publish_a_paper

I have sent my family and friends a ridiculous amount of handmade cards over the years: they patiently followed my experiments with various styles and materials. There were scrapbooking-like cards, cut paper cards, painted cards, minimalist cards, maximalist cards. Cardboard, magazine cuttings, egg cartons, whatever. You name it!

They often joked that if I didn’t pursue physics as a carrier, I could always make cards instead. Well, here we go! Of course, one cannot leave academia without after-effects: so, these are academic greetings!

I started with a quick hand-lettered sketch, and used it as a guide to draw all the letters digitally in Inkscape.

Now that these are done, I am hoping for a few weeks with less screen time. I came back from my recent trip with a pile of old jeans to recycle, so I guess there will be more of these pouches soon.

denim_pouch