Pirates - smoke & mirrors

Just finished Laurie R King´s "Pirate King", the latest adventure with Mary Russell, Sherlock Holmes´ increasingly accomplished wife and partner.

This time, she gets involved with a silent movie crew, under cover as the producer´s assistant, or general dogsbody. (Imagine the rational logic of Russell put up against the artistic temperament of actors and you can sense the comedic potential, can´t you?) Criminal activity seem to follow in the footsteps of this Brittish producer-director team (Flytte Films - "Flyttes of Fancy!") and Scotland Yard and Lestrade are concerned. Or, the investors are concerned (the Palace, no less). And perhaps Mycroft is lurking behind it all, the most concerned of them all. Since their last adventure, Mary is very resentful towards him and he has to be indirect and manipulative to get her to even "cross the street for him". I hope they become friends again, I like Mycroft very much.

A piratical sort of vessel at Charlestown, UK, last summer.
Holmes also joins her a bit into the adventure, and after a lot of song and dance (literally!) everything turns out all right, as one expects it to do. No spoilers, read it for yourselves. They really should translate more of these books to Swedish. They also really should consider filming them, preferably for television, where they can take more time with the stories. I´m thinking Jeremy Irons and Gemma Arterton, they would be sooo perfect...

And, to my great relief, another book is on it´s way. In the fall, "Garment of Shadows" will be available to brighten up our lives. I can see myself by the pool in Fuerteventura (yes, we are planning to escape the deep winter blues of Lapland) on Christmas Day, chuckling over Russell&Holmes.


Chocolate reading snack

I want to share with you the reading snack I chose for "Minimalism - essential essays", that classic Swedish cookie, chokladsnittar, or chocolate cuts. This is like the Swedish version of the American chocolate chip cookie, I think. I doubt ever having been to a reputable café, or konditori,  where this cookie was not available. It is even better when it´s home made, since I tend to be generous with real butter (which makes the cookies a bit chewier) and cocoa (I looove chocolate). Plus, it´s quick and easy to make.

Recipe as follows:

200 grams of butter or margarine at room temperature
200 ml of caster sugar
3 table spoons of cocoa powder
1 tea spoon of vanilla sugar or ½ of one of vanilla essence
1 egg yolk
2 table spoons of water
500 ml of wheat flour
1 tea spoon of baking powder
1 egg white for brushing on the cookies before the go in the oven and pearl sugar

Use a food processor, I´m sure you have one amongst all your stuff... First mix the butter and sugar until fluffy. Then add cocoa, vanilla, egg yolk and water. When that´s mixed in, add the flour mixed with the baking powder and work it until your dough holds together.
Works with all kinds of literature.
Make four lengths of dough on a baking plate with a non-stick sheet on it, flatten them slightly. Work with your hands, it doesn´t have to be pretty. Brush the whipped egg white on top and sprinkle the pearl sugar over it. Bake in the middle of the oven at 200 degrees Celsius (medium hot) for 10-12 minutes. Immediately cut the cookies diagonally across the lengths and wait for them to cool on the plate before you attempt to eat them.

They store well in the freezer and thaw in minutes (actually, they can be eaten frozen).


Minimalism - getting over my things

Some of my things...
So, I read "Minimalism - essential essays". Much of it was familiar to me, as a fan of Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus, but some texts were new.

The concepts that really resonate with me are "adding value" and "overwhelm". I often feel overwhelmed by the stuff we have, with the burden of keeping everything ordered and clean and used. And when I try to get rid of stuff I feel overwhelmed by the percieved value of it, something I tend to confuse with the price I once paid for it. Instead, I try to think "is this adding value to my life?" - and actually, just feeling the conflict about something and having to ask the question is usually as clear an answer as I can get: NO. And I try to imagine the value this thing can add to someone else´s life, and how the money recieved from selling it can benefit the work of the Red Cross or the Salvation Army. I try to see it as making a gift for someone rather than getting rid of "junk" or "stuff". This way, I don´t have to stop loving these things in order for me to part from them. I don´t have to alienate myself from them (and in a sense, the "me" that once aquired them).

In other words, I try to shift the focus from me (me me me!) and see my stuff as part of society´s stuff and stop being possessive about it. Adopting a more responsible and generous attitude, I suppose. If I can help, why shouldn´t I? The root of the problem, our neurosis, is in our perception of ownership. That is what we have to work at and transcend if this planet is going to have a chance to remain what we know and love. That´s what I think.

The price for this collection of essays is 2.99 USD, and it´s well worth it for the reading comfort it offers (as opposed to working through their website) if you´re not yet familiar with Millburn & Nicodemus and their ideas, and curious about them. Do be curious about them. It can only make you a better person.


A book for free!

A very heavy book.
No, not this one.

For, what, six weeks I have been trying to get into Thomas Mann´s "The Magic Mountain". A very heavy volume, as you can see. I never got farther than page twenty. Guess it was not meant to be. Not now, anyway. Perhaps it´s just the weight of it, but then again, it´s not exactly "Buddenbrooks", is it?

No, I´ve been looking for a lighter read, something like a collection of essays or something. And here´s a tip for you:

My favourite Minimalists are, for a few days, giving away one of their books. On kindle, which you can read on your computer if you don´t have the Thing (actually the Thing has become a lot cheaper since I last contemplated buying it, I think I might soon get one). You can get the book here.

I haven´t read it yet, but the offer is time-limited, so just saying while you can get it. I am really inspired by their ideas, I like the whole questioning of the consumer society thing, which we all just do. I have come to much dislike the fact that two people (us!) in a six-room-flat for twenty years have managed to collect sooo much stuff, it´s just sitting there, demanding me to clean it more often than I want to be dragged away from my books, you know... (And MY books aren´t even the issue any more, I have cleaned out my shelves so hard, I´m so proud, have to post a picture of that soon, just have to get it all organized in alphabetic order, which will take about two minutes, just have to read Joshua´s and Ryan´s minimalist book first...)

Well, it´s Sunday, I´m going to finish my brioche & coffee, take a walk over to mom-in-law´s for a cup of tea & a chat, and then take the sofa with my new book that I got all gratis. Can´t think of anything I´d rather do.