Wednesday, August 29, 2012

4 Shades of Grey

Sooz and I started looking into linseed oil paint and we found a number of things that we liked. It's a uniquely Swedish product, and has been used on homes for perhaps a thousand years. Linoljefärg is a "natural" paint; it essentially is made up of only the oil with added natural pigments. It also sticks well to most any surface, and should be opaque enough to cover our spots.

One drawback is the fact that its cleanup is a lot messier, (and perhaps dangerous) being oil-based, rather than the wash-and-go acrylic we've been using. But that seems like a small price to pay.

We found a company that carries a large range of linseed oil paint from Skåne. Two things we like about this company (bedsides Emil, their employee) is the wide range of colours available, and that we could buy small sample pots (at 60kr each) for us to do our own experimenting.

Sooz and I decided on four shades to try out: Silvergrå, Mellangrå, Varmgrå, and Mörkgrå. For our English-speaking readers, the colours are, excitingly, silver-grey, medium-grey, warm grey, and dark grey.

I ordered a set of four samples, which are now safely at Rutger's house. Next time we're there, probably in mid-October, we will paint a few test patches to see how the paint holds up in the months we're away. If all goes well, we could call Krister back for a painting job a year from now!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

A new kitchen gadget

Sooz bought one of these today for our boxed wine usage. I think it goes against the "island simple" aesthetic somewhat. But I also love my gadgets, and anything that keeps my Wildboar's Rock nice and chilled is OK with me!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Painting Part 2

I found an article pretty quickly from a Swedish building site about using järnvitriol to treat houses to give that nice silver-grey color we like. The key quote was in the Q & A below, which translates as:
Q: Can you paint over a facade treated with järnvitriol?
A: Yes, slamfärg or solvent-based paints work.
This article, plus Olle's research, gave me a bit more hope about successfully being able to paint our house after all.

The real kicker came a few days later, when we met up with old friends Lotta and Jan-Erik, who coincidentally enough, live a few islands over, and are good friends with Annika and Olle.

Jan-Erik is a man of much experience and many friends in the archipelago, and he gave me the name of a friend who is the MD of a paint company who might be able to give me advice. When I got back to Texas, I sent an email with a few photos attached, asking for advice. Within 24 hours, I received the following reply:
1. It is always best to keep using the same product that was used from the beginning or in your case do nothing and accept the look of the faces. 
2. It could be possible to paint the faces with a linseed oil based paint. Then you would have to repaint the southern face every 10-15 years. We don’t have any experiences of painting on sprayed surfaces
[I told him we used a sprayer to apply the järnvitriol] so we can’t guarantee the result. But you could test this on your southern face.
One of the things that gave us pause about slamfärg was that it was a bit transparent, so covering our spots might be a problem, especially if we went for a lighter shade. It also can be a bit chalky, and requiring more frequent touch-ups.

But linseed oil paint? That's worth looking into. And we will, in part 3!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Swedish Pizza

A staple of Swedish urban or semi-urban life is the local pizzeria. I've had plenty of pizza at the local joints in Järfälla, St. Eriksplan, and even our own local restaurant in Södra Ängby back when we lived in Stockholm over 20 years ago. I'd bet there's one within 10 minutes of most of the population, and they all have a range of named pizzas with odd combinations of toppings.

The name of our local was Lilla Riviera. I took a look online, and sure enough, it's still in business and appears to be thriving! Scrolling down through the menu shows 29 different pizzas available.

One evening there has entered into our family's history. For some reason, I ordered a pizza with an egg. The pizza arrived with the most-barely-cooked egg you could imagine. The whites weren't even white; instead the pizza was covered in runny albumen.

To be honest, I came close to gagging at the time. Even writing this today makes it queasy. To this day, I can't stand the sight of a runny egg, much to the amusement of Sooz and Grant.

The reason I'm reminiscing about Swedish pizzas is because of a great article on the subject in the Huffington Post (of all places). It is an instructive and entertaining read, if a bit hipster-bombastic for my tastes. The key passage for me is:
Anything that seemed exotic or exclusive would end up as a culinary titillation: something that seemed like a good idea to eat at the time.

Since a pizzeria is/was an easy and inexpensive restaurant to start up - great profit margin, not much need for culinary know-how - Swedish pizza was well on its way to becoming the abject culinary absurdity it is today.

I do love everything about Swedish pizza, the general weirdness, the exotica narrative, the ceremonial naming of the pies, the economics of necessity.
My local pizza joint sticks with pepperoni, extra cheese, and perhaps jalapeños as options. I simply can't find a pineapple, banana and curry pizza anywhere in Texas. But I can at Lilla Riviera. It's a number 19.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Painting Part 1

I've posted many times, as recently as a month ago, about the discoloration on the front of our house, and our desire to treat it. We thought for a while that it was fungus or mold of some sort, althought without an expert chemical analysis it was hard to tell for sure. Rutger and I put a chemical treatment on the house almost two years ago, and the spots have not changed appreciably since.

We thought about painting, and had spoken to one of the archipelago's painters, Krister, about using the traditional slamfärg on the spotty front exposure, in a color that matched the nice silvering along the rest of our house.

However, after some investigating, Krister felt it wouldn't be a good idea to paint over our the järnvitriol we put on the house three years ago. So we were back to square one: it probably isn't mold or fungus (or it it was, it was inert now), and it didn't seem we could paint over it, so we would have to just let it be for the time being.

We headed to the house this summer, resigned to just ignore the discolorations and get on with it. However, like a thoughtful neighbor (and a great builder and handyman), Olle told me he did some investigating about painting over jarnvitriol. He felt it was quite possible to do, so Sooz and I started thinking and googling on the subject once again.

We found a number of interesting things, which we'll save for further posts, as this one is getting a little long!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Photos from Annika

This first one is entitled "evening pleasure"; setting out the fishing nets.

This one's the result from the following morning. A fresh breakfast of perch!

I will have to ask Annika how she made those cool photo montages...

Sunday, August 12, 2012

PS on the Stockholm Marathon

I was amazed to learn how many of my fellow Aspö residents followed my race on the internet. (Not to mention Tony, who actually found me somehow!)

My favorite bit of trivia about that miserable day was this: it was actually colder in Stockholm on the day of the race than it was on Christmas Eve. Amazing.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Catching up

After a week back at work, and with the 105° Texas heat, it hardly feels like I went to Sweden at all!

Nevertheless, we did indeed enjoy a lovely holiday, and true to form, we're already planning our next escape visit to Aspö.

Over the coming days, there will be more details on our that trip, along with discussions on the following topics:
  • cable lights in the kitchen
  • extra deck lights outside
  • furniture for the little house
  • painting the exterior (once again) whatever other topics crop up! Stay tuned, dear readers.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Sunday morning in London

Sooz and I are in Heathrow, about to head back to Texas. To recap: the weather on Friday cleared up, and we had a nice fika at Annika and Olle's, complete with a surprise visit from old friends from our time working there 20 years ago!

We also hiked up to the tallest part of the island, which was totally new to us, and had a great view to boot. Along the way, we picked blueberries and raspberries off the bushes like candy. It was really neat.

Then we brought our leftover food to Ann and Dave's, and we combined it all into a 'funny supper'. I also helped Dave deplete his Scotch supplies.

Saturday was of course beautiful, and it was hard to leave. When we got to Slussen, we met up with Margaret again, along with her son Callan and his girlfriend Shagha...and also the Pride Parade, which provided many opportunities for people-watching!

We got into London just in time to watch Team GB win 3 gold medals within an hour in the track & field.

Lots more photos up within a day or two. Now to cross the Atlantic!

UPDATE: Now back in hot Texas. Lots of new photos are up now.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Friday morning catch-up

There's been lots of activity, let's see the highlights....
  • I did indeed tarpaper the shed roof, using the heavy high-quality stuff that Janne bought for me. I managed to cover the whole roof with just three pieces, as opposed to the seven I used for the first layer. That roof is good for a dozen years, at least.
  • We finished up the little house and I have to say it looks spectacular. Sooz wants to buy a lamp and a few bits and bobs but we are very pleased with the way it turned out. Now all we need are guests!!
  • I also finished up the cable light installation by drilling two holes in the trim, so the cables seem to appear by magic. I'm very happy with the way it looks. I will get a couple of extra fixtures for our next trip out, and we'll have a very cool light setup there. (Can you tell I am obsessed with lights???)
  • We went to Nämdö yesterday with the Harveys for Dave's birthday lunch, which was great fun.
  • The big event of the evening, however, was a very clear moose sighting. The best part is that I caught it on video!!!
It's a bit drizzly this morning, but that's OK, we can just chill and perhaps watch a bit of Olympic action. Team handball is very popular on SVT!