Thursday, 30 October 2008

Pumpkin Masters

Ty started carving the pumpkins today that he bought at Hötorget.

They won't quite be like these prize-winning masterpieces from last year:Ty's pumpkins are usually fantastic, but he's not quite in the same league as the Masters. Incredible aren't they?! I promise I will show you what he comes up with.


It is the Autumn break this week, one week of school holidays.
Everywhere you turn their are activities set up for kids of all ages, tons of thing going on.
Looking for something to do?Check out Barn i Stan for some ideas. They not only have this website but also produce a monthly magazine that you can pick up for free or subscribe to. Shame it is only in Swedish and that they don't have a blog running.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

U.S. Election

Many Americans and non-Americans alike are concerned about the coming presidential election in the US. Here is a chance to follow events up close, with a friendly group of people, refreshments, entertainment, media coverage and more! Order your tickets from Ticnet now! It will be a night to remember!Click on the picture for a larger view. Information distributed by Ampersand.

Ampersand is an informal Stockholm-based network for editors, copywriters, technical writers, translators, journalists, teachers and communication consultants who pretty much work exclusively in English. We offer networking events, professional development seminars and issue job bulletins as they come into headquarters. As energy accumulates, we will do more to develop the market for professional English language services. There are currently more than 350 people on our distribution list. To add yourself to the list, just send an email address to
Do not call. Operators are not standing by.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

The Challenge Of Clean Clothes

Now you know all about getting around on public transport it could also be worth knowing how to get around a Swedish laundry.

If you live in a big apartment building with limited washing facilities in the basement, keeping your clothes clean can be quite a challenge.

Click on this picture for an interesting post about laundries:
And thanks to Anna for writing it! It is a good reminder of how severely challenged we are when we don't know the local language, it is easy to forget.... Until I remind myself of the shock I felt the first time I went into a supermarket here.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Stockholm's Subway

or Tunnelbana as the locals know it, is a fascinating network of (mostly) underground trains.While it is a great service most of the time, there can be delays, often due to unforseen circumstances - like leaves falling off trees.
At this time of year the fallen leaves covering the tracks makes them slippery and damages the wheels. It is such a problem that SL (Stockholm's public transport) have a page dedicated to it on their website. Click on the picky above (Swedish).

Despite the occasional frustrations it is an efficient, modern service that will get you to most places in Stockholm. If not, there are buses, commuter trains and trams to get you the rest of the way. It is clean and safe, as far as public transport goes, with guards regularly patrolling, especially at night. The interior looks like this, and the exterior like this.Ok, not really. That's an original from the 50s.
They look more like this.

The subway is world famous for its art - booklets have been produced and tours can be taken.
SL not only produce a guide to the art (PDF) but also have a service on their website so you can get more information about the art at each or any station in particular. I was able to find out what the art is at our local station - it is not always apparent.

If you are curious and would like to see more photos there are plenty of blogs and photo albums on the net featuring Stockholm's subway art.

I think the interior of the carriages themselves are quite arty. As well as being bright and robust they are patriotic. Look closely and you will see some of the landmarks of our city. Notice too the interior colours - an ever so slight deviation from the traditional Swedish blue and yellow.
But what really fascinates me is the depths to which they go to, deep into the bedrock that this city is built on. I counted as many as five or six stories down into the earth to get to the platform and would be curious to know what the actual depth is in metres.You wouldn't want to fall down this escalator.
There is the odd time where there is a fire in the tunnel or on a train, but as far as I know the safety record is pretty good, with no incidents costing a number of lives. The longest of the tunnels runs between Kungsträgården and Hjulsta and is 14.3kms.Since the late 90s SL has been doing extensive renovations of the stations with many receiving a major face-lift. We have seen the introduction of cafés in the stations and there have been a number of experiments with the ticketing systems. There is also a long-term plan to extend the network. I guess all this explains why our ticket prices have gone up so much, and continue to climb.
A monthly ticket is now 690 sek giving you unlimited access to the public transport system - buses, commuter trains, trams and some ferries are all included. Good value even if it has increased some 200-300kr in the last couple of years. Unfortunately anything less than a month starts to become comparatively much more expensive.

SL has an extensive site that enables you to plan your journey using all of the modes of transport in the map below. Click on it to look a little closer.Happy travelling!

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Gothenburg, 10 years on

A privately organised party-disco at the Macedonian Club in Gothenburg, changed hundreds of lives on this fatal night 10 years ago. The Club, built for 150 people, held close to 400 teens between the ages of 12 and 20. The party was well underway when an Iranian gang arrived about 10pm, causing fights and generally stirring things up before exiting via the back door. On their way out they lit a fire in the stairwell which quickly engulfed the building, killing 63 young ones and seriously injuring countless others.

Panic spread through there like a tidal wave, bodies were burnt beyond recognition.

Most of the 400 young people, aged between 12 and 20, attending the party were immigrants and more than half of them were Muslim.

More scenes are available here.

Countelss news articles were written in English:
BBC, Firehouse
And many have analysed the incident from a fire-safety perspective.

One of Sweden's biggest tragedies.
May they Rest In Peace.

Saturday, 25 October 2008

As Green As It Gets

A spontaneous questionnaire of 1000 people by branding management consultants Differ gave the following list of Sweden's greenest brands
1. Änglamark (200 products in their range)
2. Grumme (wonderful cleaning products that were around long before the rest of us started thinking environmentally)
3. Coop (supermarket)
4. Skona (Ica supermarket's brand)
5. Arla (dairy)

SJ (national train company) topped the list in the transport sector and Toyota in the car sector.

Coop is a double winner coming at third place and having their organic brand coming in in first place. Personally I've always been really impressed with Coop - now I'd just like to see them go the next step and ban Brazilian Beef and be more conscious in their seafood department.

Organic and environmentally friendly don't always go hand in hand - but at least so many of us are becoming increasingly conscious of our choices.

Interesting report and it can be downloaded (in Swedish) from the Differ site.

Friday, 24 October 2008

Stockholm, a city of bridges

We live just over the hill on the left of this photo.

Alternative Medicine

According to this article there is not much point in me taking St Johns Wort. And the homeopathic remedies I give to the kids have nothing more than a placebo effect.

These gentlemen have recently released a book outlining their studies and clinical research of alternative methods and medicine. There are many who are more than pleased to see it translated to Swedish and hopefully put some end to all the bogus companies earning money from our naiivity.I guess we have to leave it to the multi-national pharmaceutical companies to earn all the money - because according to these guys conventional medicine is the answer. Placebo effect or not, is it better that we fill our bodies with all those lovely chemicals the pharmaceutical companies produce?

Kind of reminds me of how my mum's MS specialist told her it was hocus pocus that she had actually improved from taking huge doses of Evening Primrose Oil.

I never believed in homeopathy either, unitl I started giving it to my children. But a 3 month old baby knows it is going to make them better, right? Placebo effect.

Mmmm...... anthroposophical medicine, detox, chiropracters, reflexology, acupuncture and countless other methods and professions might all be on their way out.....

Kind of off topic

but can't help myself - it has to be seen by all those who ask me if I am nervous being in Australia with all the deadly snakes and spiders.

Check this out
- but NOT if you have an arachnophobia.
Although these photos are enough to give anyone a fear of spiders.

If you don't it is amazing to see - glad we don't have em like that in good old Melbourne.

And by the way, no I'm not nervous, just careful.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

A little while later....

reality has sunk in.


Ty says I shouldn't swear publicly :D

Two bankrupt web bureaus under my belt...

It seems luck is not on my side when it comes to web companies. I FINALLY got hold of one of the guys doing my website and their sub-contractor (in India!) responsible for all the coding, has declared bankruptcy. So somehow they are next in line.....

These guys are young (20+?) and inexperienced. They have been far from good with the customer contact but they know their stuff and I know two others who have been happy with their work. I felt sorry for them, especially the one I spoke to, it is a huge responsibility.

So, where does that leave me?
Well, they have done the design, not complete but we have worked a lot on the structure, and that they can give to me. And I'll be invoiced for it I imagine. But I need someone to do the coding. They were using Drupal, a publishing system but I think I want to abandon that and go back to the idea of using Joomla - there are a lot more people working with it.

But I'm open to suggestions, if anyone has any, email me .....
(nics newest at yahoo dot com)

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

The Belgrade Connection Vernissage

I picked up four lovely little kids today from daycare. Some of the staff thought I was daring but they (the kids) were all delightful.They took turns riding in the Chariot.
My task was to deliver them to LOD, where their parents were.
We stayed a while for the vernissage. Who can refuse a glass of champagne?
The photos at the back show what was sent in the jiffy bag.
The pieces are what was then created.
The kids hung out in the darkness of the bathroom, played with their neon sticks and stuffed their faces with popcorn.

Beautiful Business

Today I came a long to the Fair purely to listen to Sofia Bergenstjerna and Frida Haavisto tell their story. Despite having been a member of their for about a year I knew nothing of the story behind it.
After completing their university studies these girls did not follow the flock into well paid graduate positions but instead carved their way to a successful future, a future with a difference. These two southerners (based in Göteborg) started with nothing but energy and a desire to be entrepreneurs. A year later they had a very successful and very popular event with over 10,000 visitors (flea market) behind them and were ready for their next challenge.

The final result: Beautiful Business, with the founders being perfect role models for their company. Today their concept consists of :
➢ a book with inspirational stories about women in business with 4,000 members they are Sweden’s largest network for women running their own business, or wanting to
➢ consulting
➢ inspirational seminars
➢ a speaker network Beautiful Business Inspiration brokering other inspirational female speakers
➢ A Foundation to support women setting up businesses in developing countries
Beautiful Business Awards sponsored by Örlings PricewaterhouseCoopers

Along the way they have broken laws, faked their identity, exaggerated the truth, gained publicity for their fair booths, resulted in the creation of a new law, bribed journalists with chocolate and paid their accounting fees with muffins!!

Driftig ( translates to enterprising and there is no doubt they describe themselves. According to Sofia and Frida, enterprising women have self-confidence, courage and the ability to turn adversity into prosperity. They are clever marketeers, sales-sassy and have a solid, potentially original business model. Do you know anyone who fits this description? Voting for the 2009 BB Award is open until November 10th :

Sofia and Frida are unconventional, inspirational and very much a source of Beautiful Business!

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Eget Företag Mässa - Day 1

Went along to the fair today and had a look around, listened to a seminar and saw the award presented for New Business of the Year.

When I went last year I found it very useful and took the opportunity to suck up information like a sponge. This year I found there to be fewer exhibitors and less interesting seminars - hopefully it is only because I don't quite have the same need for information. On the otherhand I know now exactly what I need and was more able to make use of those who were there, even if I was missing those who weren't.

One thing that struck me is there seem to be a massive increase in web-based services - business networks, financial services, web designers, business associations etc etc.
A sign of the times? Or people getting in on a growing market?

Interested? Check out the video blog (in Swedish).

Monday, 20 October 2008

Choice is over-rated

Our daily routine consists of (among other things) getting 2 kids to day-care each morning and picking them up in the afternoon.

It is a 10 minute drive, a 35+ min walk, a 15 minute bike-ride or a 30 minute walk & subway ride.

We had a car, we almost always drove. It is a matter of convenience.
We had a car. It was written off after another car rear-ended me so now we are without and I'm in no hurry to get another.
I am also without a monthly train pass as I don't really need one, so biking is the best option - and I love it!!

I squash two little bottoms into the Chariot and off we go! The worst part is the hills in this part of town. Not too sure how much longer I can do it - it is starting to get cold, although I don't mind the rain if it is just spitting.

I've always said driving is like watching TV - you have a rectangle frame in front of you that you passively view the world through. Things swish by without you even noticing.

On a bike you are part of the world, you live it, you feel it. You smell the air and all the scents around you, be it blossom in the spring or the damp leaves on the ground in the autumn. You feel the air, the sun, the rain. You hear the sounds around you, cars, other bikers, kids calling out, dogs barking. You feel every slight inclination and you know you are alive when you are heading up the hills.

I love the magnificent colours of autumn. I love my bike, and I love being forced to ride through the leaves, everyday.

Eget Företag

Tomorrow is the first of the three day Eget Företag Mässa - or Own Your Own Business Fair.
I went along last year and listened to some great seminars and picked up a lot of useful information. 12 months later I have registered a business, but still have such a long way to go - at least I know where I am headed.

In this highly regulated, bureaucratic country running a business has a poor reputation - dealing with the authorities, knowing the law and paying all those taxes. But really it is not as bad as it is reputed to be. I am surrounded by people successfully working for themselves.

The fair is well worth a visit if you are considering it, or if you want to learn more about running a business - and there is always more to learn! So guess where I will be tomorrow!

Sunday, 19 October 2008

There is hope in the world

I, like so many others, am following to U.S. election with interest, at least much more so than ever before.

Listened to these interviews tonight thanks to Megan Case, and have to say I am relieved - not just because Colin Powell is going to vote across party lines, but because he has made such a significant move away from trashy politics, name calling and slandering.

There is hope after all.

The Belgrade Connection

Anyone remember Mr Squiggle? - some kid would send in a few lines scribbled on a piece of paper and Mr Squiggle would turn it into a masterpiece, creating a drawing that was impossible to envisage even for a child. I loved that show.

Well the concept exists in real life too, with a bit of a deviation from the original theme!!

Our friends (metal crafters) and their colleagues from LOD exchanged seeds with 7 jewelers in Belgrade this spring. The seeds, or fragments from their daily work, were sent in a jiffy bag for the recipient to interpret and develop.

The project is a joint co-operation between Swedish IASPIS and Serbian Cultural Front, and the results can be seen at an exhibition at LOD that begins this Wednesday and goes until November 1st.

Friday, 17 October 2008

Winter Remedy

The days are getting darker and I feel the tiredness creeping up on me - where is my den so I can lie down and sleep for the next few months?

Instead of curling up in a ball I decided to heed the advice of friends and invested in some St Johns Wort, which I started taking yesterday. It seems I am not the only one preparing for the long dark days of winter and a recent article in Aftonbladet has sent many scurrying to their local health food shop.
One of its many proclaimed benefits is that it enables the body to better absorb the light, so combined with riding my bike to and from day-care every day (total 13kms dragging 2 bodies behind me!), I should be better equipped this season. I'll let you know!

A Modern Day Beauty Pageant?

Ok I have to remind myself that it is VeckoRevyn that are behind the Blog Awards, a fairly trashy fashion magazine aimed at the young, but really, you only have to have a quick look through the list of last night's winners to see that 90% of them are young with very long blonde hair!!!

It says so much about Swedish culture, the culture of the media, the ritzy life of the rich and famous, of the youth and of those born in the 80s, and 90s. It says so much about the future. So much in fact, that I'm not even going to go there!!!

But it would be fun to be at university doing some sort of study/research/analysis/hypothesis/thesis of the whole thing - what a gold mine!

Call me old fashioned, call me too serious, call me anything you like, but isn't it time for some Blog Awards with a little more depth?

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Instegsjobb - not exactly news but....

they seem to be advertising it all over the place at the moment.

This government initiative is designed to assist those newly arrived in Sweden get into the workforce. It is part of the government's rhetoric about utanförskapet - or making sure no-one is on the outer, un-included.

Those new to Sweden, or who have been granted residency in the last 36 months can be eligible to have 75% of their salary paid for up to 24 months, reviewed every six months. There seems to be a lot of flexibility allowed with room for either full or part-time and temporary or permanent positions.

The goal is to make better and faster use of untapped resources, providing newcomers with a smooth and swift entry to the workforce. It is also designed to assist them learn Swedish faster, as they need to be simultaneously studying, thus getting both the theory and much needed practice at the same idea. It is the task of the local unemployment offices to provide information and help newcomers and employers find each other.

It seems that this government initiative has not been as successful as was anticipated, so the unemployment office is now running a campaign to increase awareness of this opportunity. With times being as tough as they are and the government conscious of the half-way mark to the next election, it is probably a good time to talk to potential employers and apply for this program.

You can even pop into your local office and pick up some business cards or order a brochure in easy Swedish or a number of other languages.

In theory it sounds great, wonder if it is working in reality....

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Missing my old friend

Taking a life leads to much contemplation, even if it is for humane purposes.

Where is my friend who curls up beside me when I am working during the day?
Where is my friend who sleeps on the end of my bed at night and greets me when I wake in the morning?
Where is my friend who gives his unconditional love to me, day in, day out?

I miss my old friend, as I sit here yet again, contemplating life, and death. And try and explain it to my children....

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Dear Mischa

We planted a tree for you.
Always in our hearts.


we are saying goodbye to Mischa........

Monday, 13 October 2008

1000 visitors

in the first 6 months, another 1000 6 weeks later.......

hello to all the people out there.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

A Beautful Autumn Sunday

A glorious, mild autumn day spent with friends; eating, playing, building, decorating, walking & talking. A great day to be outside soaking up the sunshine!