Saturday, July 30, 2005

Passion fruit!

A hot tip: grow your own passion fruit! The plant is nice and clingy, it will climb just about anything! And the flowers are absolutely beautiful. But the best part is the fruit! Our plant is three years old and got it's first fruits this summer. They were small but very tasty.

Passion fruit is an absolute favourite of mine. It gives almost any dessert that extra little something to make it pop. It appears as though the passion fruit holds some medical purpose too..

Here's a yummy and really simple dessert for ya:

Slice a few bananas length-wise.
Mix a couple of passion fruits with crème fraiche and a little brown sugar or honey. The mix should be fresh, not too sweet.
Spread the bananas in an oven-proof dish and cover with the mixture, add a little extra brown sugar on top. Put in the oven for about 15 minutes, 200 degrees Celsius. Serve hot with vanilla ice cream.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Su Jok Massage Ring and Stick

Su Jok is a modern version of traditional acupuncture, with roots in
Korea. My parents went to Tylösand Spa and came back with a massage ring and stick from their shop-of-weird-stuff.

These are
small mean-looking wire tools that you are supposed to roll on your fingers or between your hands or feet until they're all warm and tingling.
It's effect is related to that of acupuncture or acupressure, with zones in the hands or feet corresponding to different body parts. I am not sure about what I think of all of this, but it does feel really
nice and soothing for tired hands and feet.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Beach reading

I just finished the tales of the Otori, by Lian Hearn (a pseudonym).

"Brought up among the Hidden, a reclusive and spiritual people, Takeo knows only the ways of peace. But he possesses the supernatural skills of the Tribe - preternatural hearing, the ability to be in two places at once, to become invisible.

When his life is saved by the mysterious Lord Otori Shigeru, Takeo begins the journey that will lead him to his destiny within the walls of Inuyama. It is a journey of revenge and treachery, honour and loyalty, beauty and magic, and the overwhelming passion of love."

These three books will not haunt you night and day until you finish them, like the books of Dan Brown did (I think The Da Vinci Code was said to be "unputdownable").

Still, they're very much enjoyable.
You can read a bit, put the book down, go for a swim and go on later. Set in a Japan-like environment, with stories of war and love and just a little magic, they're a soft introduction to fantasy.

My experiences of fantasy so far are a bit of Tolkien (who, of course, beats the **** out of pretty much any other writer when it comes to creating worlds inside your head) and Robin Hobb (another pseudonym). I've liked it and will probably encounter this genre again.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Summer nails

A favourite of mine: Lumene Super Gloss & Quick Dry, color "Satin Clouds".

One coat: A healthy pinkish shade with just enough color to barely be noticed.

Two coats: Very nice to match the tan (the tan that I would have, had I not been working all day)(and had the weather not turned from amazing summer to thunderstorms and rain).

Here's a little color sample for y'all.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Madeira trip report: GARDENS

Madeira is very green and has lots and lots of weird and beautiful plants and flowers. There are innumerable gardens to visit, here are the ones we tried

Jardim Botanico - Lots of cool plants and a great view over Funchal. Buy the fennel candy from the souvenir shop. Funchal is actually named after fennel,"funcho" in Portuguese.

Monte - the town park (municipal gardens). Down the stairs from the square and you're in paradise!

Palheiro Gardens - beautiful but expensive, entry fee is 8 Euros.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Madeira trip report: NATURE

Encumeada. Don't miss this one! Way up in the mountains (easy to reach by car) there is a wall where the clouds run down the slope like a waterfall. If you're there at the right time (which is fairly often) you're in for an amazing experience. It is a bit of a gamble since you never know when, but try it out!

Pico do Arieiro.With it's 1819 metres, Arieiro is the second highest mountaintop on Madeira. It can be reached by car, and from here you can walk (a long and scary walk) to the highest one, Pico Ruivo (1834 m). I didn't go there. Of course it wasn't because of fear, I just didn't feel like it ;) Too much trouble for fifteen measly metres! The Pico do Arieiro is amazing. There are two miradouras, or viewpoints, from where you can see almost the whole island!

When we had lunch on the north viewpoint, we were attacked by really friendly and hungry lizards! They crawled all over us and ate the crumbs of our sandwiches (they were also fond of my nail polish and tried to bite my finger off. Luckily they had no teeth..) I later learned that this was the Madeira Lizard, an endemic species. Very cute.

Madeira is a Mecca for trekkers, since it has irrigation channels, "
levadas" all over. Not only do they provide water, but very beautiful walks thanks to concrete maintenance paths. The levadas go high up in the mountains, in the countryside and even downtown!

This is a levada we walked,
Waterfall Risque. Amazing views! Try it!

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Madeira trip report: SWIMMING

Madeira seems to have it all - except beaches. Two hours away by ferry is Porto Santo, an island that seems to have gotten all the sand for itself. I didn't go there but it's supposed to be really nice.
However, if you wanna go for a swim there ARE options. Here are two spots we tried and liked.

Calheta - two man-made beaches opposite of eachother. Watching over the beaches is a giant mountainwall with a waterfall.

Porto Moniz - natural lava-rock-pools that have been enhanced with concrete to become a real beach paradise. It was kinda windy, though.

(Lido, right near Funchal is a saltwater pool-complex which I did not visit, but it's supposed to be good.)

Hey, hey! Remember! Every part of Madeira has it's own micro-climate, maybe because of the mountains... Fear not if you wake up to a cloudy Funchal. Just go a bit west or north and there is a good chance the sun will shine!

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Madeira trip report : SHOPPING

Yep, the shopping was nice even though the Euro has made everything more expensive. Mango, for example, is still a good bit cheaper than in Sweden.

Here's where to go.

Madeira Shopping
, Sta Quitéria, Funchal. The big mall I told you about. It's really nice and hosts all the major shops.

C.C Forum Madeira, Estrada Monumental, Funchal. On the very same street as our hotel. This is a new (from the looks of it) outdoors mall that has about the same shops as Madeira Shopping.

The capital, Funchal, is well worth a visit. Very beautiful and picturesque, narrow streets and beautiful buildings. If you want to find the shopping here, go to Rua do Aljube and Rua dos Ferreiros. However, it is pretty much the same stores here as in the malls, I didn't find much individuality here.

If you want to check out some local life, visit the
market. It is situated in the east of Funchal, right near where the lifts take you to Monte.

This is a Madeiran specialty, the Espada, often served with banana!
The market has a large fish department, and a somewhat less smelly part where they sell flowers, fruits, baskets, birds, books and a whole bunch of stuff. Be sure to watch the fruit prices, because I am pretty sure they fiddle with the scales sometimes. At least when youre a gullible tourist..

Oh, I learned something new about the brands here. They're very much intertwined. Mango
is the only one that seems to stand on it's own, but Zara, Pull and Bear, Massimo Dutti, Bershka, Stradivarius and Oysho (dont miss Oysho! they've got awesome underwear and some nice clothes too!!) are part of a huge group called the Inditex Group. That I did not know. It seems like they're all able to keep their individual profile intact though, so all is good.