Swedish Sweets

Last Saturday, I finally made the journey over to Christopher Street to visit Sockerbit, the recently opened Swedish candy store. (Swedish lesson of the day: Godis means candy in Swedish.) I first heard about it a month ago, when a friend with whom I’d studied abroad in Sweden two years ago sent me a link to an article about it. Swedish and candy? I’m sold. Name the place, and I’m there. Sockerbit is not the first place to sell Swedish candy in New York (and there are a few online sites where you can order your favorites), but it must be the only shop to sell such a wide range of Swedish bulk/bin candy. (Most supermarkets in Sweden have large bin candy selections, ranging from sour gummies to coconut-filled chocolates. Living in Sweden and going grocery shopping is clearly a lesson in restraint. I remember there being a particularly good godisaffär in the Hötorget tunnelbana (subway) station.)

Sockerbit was a lot of fun, and there was a lot to choose from. While I was in Stockholm, I tended toward the wrapped, brand-name candy (like Kex) over the bin candy, so I didn’t know a lot of the candy available at Sockerbit. Like with most candy stores, selecting your choices can be a risk, as you never really know what they’re going to taste like. (It’s also way too easy — but isn’t that the point? — to overfill your bag and realize just how much you’ll be paying for it later.) So, yes, Sockerbit was a pretty great place, and I do plan to go back, but probably not all that frequently. (And I think that’s for the best, right?)

The all-white walls of the store let the candy speak for itself, with few decorative distractions to take customers’ focus off the bins and bins of Swedish sweets. I made sure to bring my camera when I visited.

They also have some non-candy items, including Hafi lingonberry drink concentrate …

… and Leksands knäckebröd (crispbread).

I was a big fan of their bags — I love the pattern on the side! They even have a nice message inside: Ha en söt dag! (Have a sweet day!)

So, while this may have not been the most enthusiastic endorsement, Sockerbit is definitely worth a visit! I would definitely consider bringing visiting friends when they come to the city.

All photos taken by Taking of Toast.

War Horse

A short commercial for War Horse at Lincoln Center

Say what you will about War Horse, but it’s hard to deny that it is much more than a play with some puppets. It is — and I mean this — an experience. I have now seen it twice, once in London last November at the New London Theatre (its current home after moving from the National Theatre) and then last night in New York at Lincoln Center. After I saw it in London, I knew I had to see it again when I was back home, as there were so many elements of it that I wanted to see again.

It is a draining production, both for the audience and (I’m sure) the performers. It is depressing, yes. Threaded through War Horse (which is based on a novel by Michael Morpurgo) is the theme of how different something can look from the other side. “Oh, we’ll only be away at war for three months,” and yet here we are, almost 100 years later, and we all know how World War I went and how long it took. But much of War Horse‘s beauty lies in its hopefulness, that there are some bonds that remain through everything. The story plays on emotion, and it may even take advantage of that emotion. But it’s also such a powerful, different, unique production, unmatched by anything else I’ve ever seen. It’s a fairly simple story told on a very grand scale.

I don’t want to give anything about the show away, and I certainly don’t claim to be a reviewer, so I won’t say much more. But do consider seeing this show, if only for the (more than) amazing puppetry, via South Africa’s Handspring Puppet Company. This is definitely one of the biggest clichés in the book, but I really think that War Horse is a show you have to see to believe. Not everyone will like it, and I’m not saying everyone should. But I absolutely loved it, and it’s one of those shows that I want to share with everyone. “Go see War Horse! Here are a bunch of exclamation points that can’t even convey how strongly I feel about it: !!!!!!!!!! Oh my goodness, the puppets! The horses! The accents! The music! War Horse, War Horse, War Horse!”

Now, I’m off to watch the War Horse Video Diary on YouTube. There’s also a great behind the scenes video series from the Lincoln Center version here.

I tried to come up with a clever subject line for this post, but I couldn’t. When in doubt, stick to the point?

Mixed Monday: Keeping Busy

I’m sorry for the lack of posting this past week. I’ve gathered a few ideas, but I haven’t been able to figure out how I want to share them. I do have one or two other posts already planned for this week, though, so that’s a start. I’m treat-free again this week, but that’s partly because I’m saving up for a post in a couple days. I also looked and looked and could not find a video to share, so I thought I’d make up for it by sharing two songs. Despite my two cups of coffee today, I’m still feeling tired; maybe it’s because I’ve had a lot to do over the past few days.

The Song, Part I

Adele puts her own spin on Cheryl Cole’s dance hit “Promise This” and once again makes me wonder, ‘How does she do it?”

The Song, Part II

Simply put, I have not been able to stop listening to this song from self-described “artist collective” NewVillager. See this article from The Guardian for more about the pair.

The Recipe

Brussels sprouts, as the recipe below notes, tend to be a major hit or a major miss for people. I tend to avoid them, but every so often, when they’re cooked just right, I take my chances. This recipe below sounds unusual and interesting enough to make them more of a hit (or, at least, less of a miss).

Roasted brussels sprouts with cranberry pistachio pesto from Steamy Kitchen.

The Photo

Not-yet-opened magnolia blossoms in Central Park last week.

What’s Making Me Happy?

All the theater I’ve been seeing recently! Last Thursday, I saw the terrific, heartbreaking Broadway production of The Normal Heart, followed by (the completely different) Catch Me If You Can on Friday. I was invited only a few days earlier by some family friends to see CMIYC, so it was an unexpected, but welcome, surprise. Not the best Broadway musical I’ve ever seen, but a fun show nonetheless. Later this week, I’m seeing War Horse, which I saw in London and have barely been able to stop talking about since.

Photo taken by Taking of Toast.

Mixed Monday: Delightful

I’m afraid I’m treat-free for this week’s Mixed Monday, but maybe that’s for the best. There are lots of beautiful trees in bloom in Central Park, but my expedition yesterday didn’t produce particularly good photos, so I don’t have any to share. Below, you’ll find a few things that always put me in a good mood (and may or may not have me using the word “delightful” multiple times).
The Song

A guaranteed-to-get-stuck-in-your-head update of Jona Lewie’s ’80s hit “You’ll Always Find Me in the Kitchen at Parties” by UK duo Man Like Me. Be sure to also check out the video Man Like Me and Lewie did for IKEA!

The Video

I had the pleasure of seeing The Nature Theater of Oklahoma perform Poetics: A Ballet Brut three years ago at The Public Theater‘s Under the Radar Festival, and I still think about that production sometimes. I left the theater that night feeling a sense of joy and excitement, and all I wanted was to share it with everyone and then see it again. The video below only gives you a small idea of what Poetics is like, but 4 minutes is better than no minutes, so here you go!

The Recipe

I made these two years ago to bring to a holiday party. The snowstorm that night eventually prevented me from getting to said party, but these cookies were so good that I should really make them again. (Seriously, they’re really good!)

Orange-almond buttons from Lottie + Doof

The Photo

I think Edinburgh may be one of the prettiest cities I’ve visited. I went with my London program last fall for a couple days to visit the Scottish Parliament and attend a few lectures. We didn’t get too much time to explore, but we were lucky enough to have great weather during our trip, which certainly made picture-taking more enjoyable. The picture below was taken during the climb up the Scott Monument, which I made with one of my flatmates.

What’s Making Me Happy?

King Arthur Flour‘s catalogue (a very recent discovery)! It’s filled with baking-related tools you never knew existed (but are so clever!), like a muffin pan sponge, and bakeware that makes everything so much easier (but, okay, maybe less fun, too), like this scone pan.

All photos taken by Taking of Toast.

Regards, Cards

Where did this past week go? I feel like it flew right by. On Friday, a couple friends and I headed out to New Jersey to surprise a friend of ours for her birthday. Despite the rather annoying traffic we hit right before we got to our destination, it was a fun evening, and it was great to be part of a surprise (and one that managed to remain a surprise until we arrived!). The birthday girl had given me a lovely, funny, quirky handmade card for my birthday senior year, so the pressure was on to find a card for her this year. I ended up leaving the card at home (and I hadn’t even gotten around to filling it out!), but I still wanted to share the collection with you.

I think these cards, from Norwegian design duo Darling Clementine for Nineteen Seventy Three, are just asking to be framed and put up above the kitchen table or in the entryway. You can see the full Les Charlatans collection here; below are a few of my favorites.

Clockwise from top left: Sailor, Witch, Hunter, Troop Leader, Magician, Copacabana; $3.26 each

You can also find wrapping paper featuring Les Charlatans here.

Mixed Monday: Blue Skies

I thought I’d start this week off with a new weekly feature. I find so many things I want to share, but I never know when to do so. Can I really make this video into its own post? Can I really make a post just to share one song? I thought making a weekly “variety” post might solve that, hence this very first edition of Mixed Mondays! I may change what I share from week to week, but for now, I think I’ll try to include a treat, a video, a song, a recipe that’s been in my bookmarks for ages (but I have yet to try), a photo from my archives (doesn’t that sound fancy?), and something that’s currently making me happy. This week’s theme was inspired by today’s temperature, which was in the high ’70s.

What do you think? Anything you’d like to see me post for Mixed Mondays? Let me know!

The Treat

A guava-filled roscón from Colombian eatery Dulce Vida Cafe

The Song

A springlike, retro-ish beat from new Swedish duo Serenades (Laakso‘s Markus Krunegård and Shout Out Louds‘ Adam Olenius)

The Video

I realize this one doesn’t really fit the theme (and it’s late — watch the video to see why), but I still wanted to include it. Plus, I cannot get over how cute the dogs in this video are! (via London Underground Tube Diary)

The Recipe

If aioli is listed on a sandwich, the likelihood I’ll order that sandwich automatically increases. These fritters may not be the healthiest of options, but I’d still like to try them out.

Zucchini fritters with tarragon aioli (hold the bacon!) from Not Without Salt.

The Photo

The Roof Gardens are a must see if you’re in London. I visited last fall and felt I’d been transported out of London into a more tropical environment. Oh, to be able to host a dinner party there!

What’s Making Me Happy?

The weather (surprise, surprise)! I don’t have a picture, but believe me — today’s weather was great. Spring is in the air again, and maybe, hopefully, it’s here to stay. Guess it’s time to order an iced coffee!

All photos taken by Taking of Toast.

The Taking of Tea (and Coffee)

As the weather slowly starts to warm up, I’m already starting to think about drinking iced coffee to stay cool. But for now, when it’s not yet cloying and humid out, I’ll stick to the non-iced variety. These days, I tend to get my coffee on the go, in paper cups. I really need to bring my travel mug into my local coffee shop and ask if they’d fill it for me and just charge accordingly. (As a quick aside, I don’t really like taking my coffee/tea on the subway, since it’s hard to read a book and hold a cup at the same time, and I read more on the subway than I do at home. I need that travel time to make progress on my reading! But really, there are simple ways around this “problem.”) Non-travel mugs aren’t so great for, well, travel, but I like imagining myself in a sunlit kitchen, all cozied up with a book or newspaper, drinking out of a lovely mug. I’ve told myself that when I move into a new apartment, I will buy myself a mug, as a sort of housewarming gift. There are so many great mugs out there to choose from, but they’re not cheap! But still, it’s fun to browse.

I’ve always been fond of mugs with a little something extra on the inside, like this one from Anthropologie. I love that it even has a little thumb rest on the top of the handle!

This mug from apiecebydenise at Etsy has to be one of the cleverest — and cutest — mugs I’ve come across. A nook at the bottom of your mug to store your cookies/biscuits? Who would’ve thought? Thank goodness someone did!

I’m pretty pleased with the mug I bought a few weeks ago at Sur La Table, but that didn’t stop me from browsing around the Internet looking for other ones. Somewhat unintentionally, more than half the mugs I found (/want) are from UK-based companies. I … don’t know how that happened. Most of these are wish list items anyway (especially the Gustavberg Blue and Red Aster one — $84?!), as a) I already have a mug I like and b) I don’t drink enough tea or coffee to warrant owning more than one to two mugs. But if that changes (and I win the lottery), at least I know where to find my next one!

Top row, from left: The London Company Tea & Scone Mug, £9; Petra Boase Dots Mug, £9; Kate McLelland London Skyline Mug, £6.99
Middle row: Petra Boase Stripy Mug, £9; Penguin Classics Pride and Prejudice Mug, £8.95; Gustavsberg Blue and Red Aster Coffee Cup, $84
Bottom row: Designers Anonymous Artist Mug*, £8.95; Anthropologie Piecrust Mug, $12; Bailey Doesn’t Bark Dotted 23k Gold Mug, $48

*I think these Serving Suggestion mugs from Designers Anonymous are pretty great, too!

I remember seeing this commercial (advert) on TV (the telly) a few times when I was in London last fall. I’m glad someone uploaded it to YouTube, so I can share it! Sometimes, even the simplest white tea cup is all you need (or, in this case, a few hundred).

Spring Along

I actually drafted this post yesterday; today’s weather is beautiful! Clear, blue skies. (I’ve changed all references to “today” to “yesterday.”)

During our last few days in Arizona, rumors were swirling about the weather back east(ward). “It snowed during the Indians game!” I caught a glimpse of the opening day game at Yankee Stadium, and the people in the stands were wrapped up tight in winter wear. What was going on?! It was in the (humidity-free!) 90s in Arizona at the time; surely, spring had come to New York. St. Patrick’s Day was gorgeous, with the kind of weather that made us all think that spring had sprung. But no, it was followed by some more cold weather the next week. Still, I continued to hope. I know that just because it’s officially spring doesn’t mean it feels like spring. But I was living it up in 90-degree weather; I couldn’t bear the thought of returning to a 50-degree drop in temperature.

The past couple of days have been a little cooler than what I would call “mild weather,” although it’s sort of starting to feel springlike. Yesterday, though, was rainy, all day. On my way out the door this morning, I grabbed an umbrella at random, and I suspected that it may have been one of those umbrellas that should have been retired a long time ago. I was running late, though, so out I went, only to have the umbrella get increasingly bent out of shape while I was down in Soho. I was that person, walking around with an umbrella that’s flopping around and blowing inside out. My efforts to hold one side down with my hand only resulted in a lot of cold water dripping inside my coat sleeve. Never again! On my way back home, I made sure to buy a new umbrella (and the other one will definitely get tossed!). Speaking of umbrellas, how cool are these from SquidLondon? Here’s a brief description from their website: SquidLondon’s umbrellas change color/colour as soon as the rain its panels! Unique, fun, gift – the only color/colour changing umbrella in the world! SquidLondon are focused on developing stylish, fun yet practical umbrellas and designs. Brightening up our rainy days. If you go to their site, you’ll also find out that they were inspired by Jackson Pollock. Pretty fun idea for an umbrella, I think!

While a bad drought in Arizona has meant that no cacti are (yet) in bloom, there were still, as always, so many colors around! From the very colorful drinks (that’s a prickly pear margarita on the right!) …

… to the brightly-colored ocotillo plant, there was much to be photographed.

Looking through my Arizona photos, I remembered the glass flask bottle I bought on sale at Sur La Table a few weeks ago. I had meant to buy a bud for it, but I kept forgetting to. So, on my way home yesterday, I stopped into a flower shop and bought one bright pink ranunculus, in hopes it would serve as a reminder of the coming spring and brighten up my room, and mood, a bit.

I’ve always wanted to take a flower arranging class for fun, and it’s on my “future to-do list,” which both exists and doesn’t exist. I do think a flower class would be a great way to learn more about flowers. I know a lily from a chrysanthemum, but I find myself forgetting flower names quite often, and I’d love to really establish what flowers I like. I didn’t set out to buy a ranunculus, but I saw a small arrangement of white ones on the counter at the store and decided I’d found my flower.

Now all I’m waiting for is those cherry trees along Park Avenue to bloom.

All photos taken by Taking of Toast.