Thursday, December 17, 2009

Snowflake Mobile & Matching Blizzard

Here are the results of my Christmas decorating. They are doilies stiffened with sugar water and hung as a snowflake mobile in the living room. Quite cozy.

Quite cozy considering that this is what it is like outside these days...

Monday, December 14, 2009

It's beginning to look a lot more like Christmas than it did

I couldn't take it any more. It seems like every window in Sweden has decorations, so I ventured out at lunch, slipping and sliding my way to Myronas (a second-hand store) to find some festive stuff. I purchased a wooden Christmas star that lights up to hang in the window, and I found some small crafty looking doilies that might pose as snowflakes. Stay tuned for pictures of the resulting Christmas cheer.

Snow for Real

It's started snowing, and it's not stopping. I must perfect my "no-slip" shuffle.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Universal Truth: The Pitch

Sorry to be MIA on the blogging. We were in a pitch at work. I can now safely say that pitches are the same everywhere. Long, late hours, junk food, last minute freak outs and printer worries. And I can also safely say that you feel exactly the same after an all-nighter in Sweden that you do in San Francisco - freakin' tired. There are some serious pitch warriors here in the DDB Stockholm studio department. Thanks guys.

One fun difference about this pitch was that I got to help translate all of the Swedish copy to English. There were going to be some non-Swedes from the company in the meeting so most of the presentation was to be given in English. Translating Swedish to English is not always and easy task (but it is always funny), and sometimes there really isn't a direct translation or there are major differences in the way the words are used. For instance, the Swedish word skepparkrans means this certain type of beard that fishermen often have. When literally translated to English in pieces it means ship wreath. Hmmmm. Not exactly catchy ad copy. We ended up just saying fisherman's beard.

Also, we came up with a headline in English with the phrase "taking the scenic route" in it. And there was really no equally good way to translate it into Swedish. Apparently "taking the scenic route" is a pretty American concept? Maybe in Sweden taking the scenic route is an inefficient way to get from point A to point B in the cold or maybe they feel that every route is the scenic route? I'm not sure. Maybe I should ask if "stopping to smell the roses" translates.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Christmas Goes On and On

Christmas is a month long celebration here. Advent candles start showing up in windows, Christmas trees are lit in neighborhood parks, people start having glögg parties and saffron buns are everywhere.

Two weekends back we went to a Christmas market at Skansen an open air museum in Stockholm. Skansen is pretty impressive on it's own without the holiday flair. They have over 150 traditional homes, schools, buildings that they moved to the island from various parts of Sweden. Most of them date from the 18th and 19th centuries. There are traditional craftsmen who throw pottery and practice glass blowing. And it addition to all this they had a big Christmas market with traditional booths, dancing and, of course, LIGHTS! It was actually pretty cold and foggy, but the lights made eerily beautiful. I felt like I was in a Charles Dickens novel. In Sweden.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Save Saab

The tone toward recent events involving Saab is still positive here in Sweden.
I'm virtually crossing my fingers for the iconic brand and 4,000 Swedish jobs, by posting these amazing vintage photos.

All photos are pulled from a gallery on The Local. I chose some of my faves. The colors are amazing! If you would like to see the full gallery from 1947 to present, check it out. But BEWARE, the good photography drought of the 80s and 90s seemed to be a worldwide phenomenon.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Graphing Emotion

I forgot to post this wonderful graphic representation that my friend Jim did this week. It is a graphic representation of how he feels reading this blog while working with Ted. Not only is it expertly executed, but it communicates the emotion perfectly. I really think Jim is on to something here folks. Emotions (in any language) can be extremely hard to express, but what if you could just communicate a feeling with a simple ven diagram, bar graph, pie chart, or in this case, altered universal symbol?

Think about it, and if you feel inclined, throw a graph my way for me to post. I'll try to come up with one as well. Lets all get graphing!


Tack för idag. (Thanks for today.)


It's a fairly simple thing to say that Swedes are taught at a young age. In preschool they sing this song to end the day, and the first line is "thanks for today". People also say it as they are leaving work or parting after a particularly nice day.

It seems like a great way to me to communicate to a person, "thanks for dedicating this day to - putting in a good day's work, hanging out with me, riding the ferris wheel, knitting, etc..." But maybe the sentiment is even more simple - it's really just giving thanks for a another day that the sun comes up, the earth goes around and you and me are here to enjoy it.

Hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Day in the Sun

The sun came out here on Saturday, and it was awesome. There was a really beautiful quality to the light - not sure if it is because I'm further north or if it was because I hadn't seen the sun in so damn long - everything was glowy.


Bulbs blooming at the florist. I swear, if it hadn't been 40 degrees outside, I'd have thought it was spring!

Look at the brave guy kayaking!

Friday, November 20, 2009

As Promised: The History of Piperska Muren (see Commute post)

So I think the most interesting part of this whole story is the Jean Theodore La Font guy. He's some French dude who moves to Stockholm, sells snuff and buys then destroys a local landmark. What the hell?! I bet the neighbors were pissed.


Piperska Muren has been a central location for meetings for over 300 years! As far back as the early 1700s it was one of Stockholm's grandest estates and boasted the most ornamental and distinguished baroque park in the area. Carefully carried out restorations aimed at reflecting an early 1700s environment have recaptured the former charm and elegance of Piperska Muren's building and park.

Piperska Muren AB

The original entrance to Piperska Muren was through gates by what is now Scheelegatan, up through the park between the two pavilions and in to Borggården where the busts of the roman emperors can be found. From this point it was possible to enter two respective pavilions, both dating back to 1695. These are still standing today but in the 1790s they were built into one and in 1880 a lower building, the so-called veranda was constructed on the park side. In 1860 a two-storey building was erected to the north and another storey was added to this in 1910, completing the building that can be seen today, and that now houses among other things the main entrance to the restaurant and the large banquet areas.

In the 1600s Count Carl Piper, one of Karl XII closest advisors designed for Kungsholmen what was called at that time "the town's neatest and foremost garden with clipped hedges, orangeries and fountains". Count Piper was destined never to see his plans achieve completion. He followed Karl XII into war, was taken prisoner at Poltava and later died in Russian captivity. His wife Christina Törnflycht completed her husband's work. In 1702 she also approved the erection of a high brick wall, which came to be commonly known as - Piperska Muren

In 1757 the estate was sold to a French immigrant, the snuff manufacturer Jean Theodor La Font. He brought with him a period of destruction and decay. The grounds were divided. The beautiful door with its pillars and pedestals made from Gotland stone was taken down. A large portion of the brick wall was also torn to the ground. The stone was sold for use in the ongoing building of The Swedish Mint.

Piperska Muren AB

Since 1807, the Piperska Muren property has been owned by the order of Arla Coldinu. This order has always been looked upon with high regard. During the late 1700s, its members included among others Carl Michael Bellman. Its current patron is King Carl XVI Gustaf.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Commute Home AKA Winter War

Going home is usually much more challenging. Here I am in all my gear courtesy of the elevator mirror at work, ready to brave some elements. I think all elevators have mirrors because you get so mussed up outside, you have to fix yourself on the way up.


My commute begins around 8:30 each morning. I walk out the door of my 4th floor apartment, and to the elevator. If I'm feeling ambitious, I take the stairs, but it is a spiral staircase, and quite honestly it makes me dizzy to go down four flights. I usually haven't any coffee by this point so dexterity and reflexes are low and slow. Stairs can be risky.

The elevator is mirrored, so I'm forced to look at my hair and makeup and make sure I've done a good job. (see picture below, which illustrates both new glasses, requested by Kelly, and mirrored elevator)

Once out the door I embark on a 25 to 30 minute walk to work. It is a pretty nice walk. I go through my neighborhood, Kungsholmen, across a bridge and then 4 or 5 more blocks to the DDB office. I pass many things as I walk through the neighborhood. A couple of grocery stores, what seems to me to be an abnormal amount of hair salons and this really cool house that I'm going to find the backstory on to post.

Then I walk across a bridge, with an awesome bike lane that takes up half the sidewalk. The view is out over one of the various water ways (Stockholm is built on an archipelago) and the train station. Then after the bridge I have another 10 minutes to DDB on Torggatan, Train Street.

DDB is on the 7th & 8th floor of the glass building on the left.

All of this is quite good and lovely when it isn't raining. However, it was reported to me earlier today that Stockholm has only had 3.48 hours of sunlight (not cloudy, foggy, raining - actual sun shining on you) since November 1. I'm not sure if this is true or an exaggeration, but I'm inclined to believe it.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Dairy, the most important meal of the day

The breakfast/frukost spread: butter, cheese, milk, bread and coffee. (if I'm feeling crazy, sometimes I substitute it all for yogurt) I was talking to a vegetarian the other day and asked if he had ever considered being vegan. He laughed.

Monday, November 16, 2009

From herring to Lone Star, Sweden has a lot to offer

This weekend was filled with interesting shopping experiences: a serious trip to the grocery store to buy actual provisions and the obligatory trip to Ikea.

It is really hard to go grocery shopping when you didn't grow up with any of the brands, food or words on the shelves. I wandered around the store picking up things and asking Erik stuff like "are these cookies or crackers?", "do they have yogurt you eat with a spoon instead of drink?" and "does this come in whole wheat?". I could spend 20 minutes in one aisle looking at packages, and trying to guess what might be inside. I spent 15 minutes in the "tube food" section alone, freaking out on the bacon in a tube.

I also spent a good 15 minutes perusing the fish selection.

On the other hand, going to Ikea is somewhat comforting. The Swedish Ikea is EXACTLY like your friendly neighborhood Ikea, just more authentic. For instance, everyone is actually speaking Swedish, and the cinnamon buns and coffee are better. The experience is pretty much dead-on though to that in the States, same products, same insane crowds. I even heard some woman say (in English) in the parking lot, "crazy f*#&ing people". I felt right at home.

To top off our crazy shopping day, Erik and I went to a restaurant called Texas Longhorn, which a surprisingly authentic steak and BBQ place in the middle of Stockholm. They even have Lone Star, $10 Lone Star, but it is the real deal. Heaven.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday Meeting & First Client Meeting

I had my first client meeting Friday with my partner Tove. We, well she, presented an overarching brand idea for Cloetta Chocolates. Very interesting meeting, all in Swedish. I managed to pick up on some of it. Regardless of the language, you can sense on when a client likes something and when they are not so sure.

Friday was also my first Friday meeting, which is essentially a fireside chat. They have them every Friday at 4:30, and there is beer, wine and snacks. Then most people hang around afterwards for a happy hour.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

First Snow

It snowed for 5 minutes! Little flakes. Didn't stick.

Does Not Compute

These work words & phrases have been met with blank stairs and furrowed brows:

logo lockup (when explained, I got "ya-ha! logo-fy")
bus shelter

Things that DO translate:

mood board
Here's a Thought
leave behind
big mistake

I will continue to add to the list.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Superiority of Mittens

Mittens are better than gloves. Your fingers create more heat as a unified source rather than as separate units. They get in there and get all cozy, it's really great. To support my theory, I checked Wikipedia, which we all know is completely factual:

"Mittens are warmer than gloves made of the same material because fingers maintain their warmth better when they are in contact with each other. Reduced surface area reduces heat loss." -Wikipedia, under Glove.

But the benefits don't stop at warmth. Mittens also promote positivity. For instance, you can't give the middle finger in mittens, but you CAN give a thumbs up. Plus, they are just cute as hell. They make people happy. They make you feel like a kid, or like an animal with paws. You just really can't go wrong with mittens.

Monday, November 9, 2009

First Day

The day stared off with some "first day of school" pics.

And a rough and tough "fight the cold" face. One eye looks tough. The other looks not so sure.

The day went really well. I met lots of nice people with beautiful names I will butcher with my clumsy English tongue over the next several weeks. I drank tons of coffee. Lucky for my jet lag the Swedes love their coffee and there is an espresso machine in the kitchen. Yay!

Here is the view from my new desk.

All of the creatives sit at one really long desk that faces floor to ceiling windows. I can imagine this is pretty tempting in the summertime, but I can tell you, as winter approaches, I'm glad to be inside at the giant, cozy community desk. (with my coffee)

International Terminal

Why would anyone ever think it is a good idea to have Mexican food be one of only three restaurants in the international terminal? In a short amount of time, every person in that terminal is going to be trapped in a 2 ft x 4 ft space, next to hundreds of strangers, with no ventilation, for 8+ hours and one of the major food choices given said people is spicy beans... Even more alarming, the place was packed!

And on the subject of packing, miraculously, I managed to cram everything I would need for my three months in Stockholm into two suitcases weighing less than 50lbs and a carry-on. The secret - the roll method. Instead of folding your clothes regularly, you roll them up into neat little rolls like a Tootsie Roll or a Little Debbie Swiss Cake Roll, whichever you prefer to imagine as you are rolling, and pack 'em in. It really works! Try it next time you go on a trip, and I would venture to say the level of wrinkling is the same, if not better than the folding packing method. (thanks for the tip Chase and Jacqui)

That's it for now. Tune in later for first day of school pics and report.

Does anyone know why they asked me when I bought a bottle of water in Frankfurt (inside the security gate) whether it was to drink now, or on the plane? They asked every single person buying bottled drinks. Everyone said "now", so I'm not sure what happens when you say "on the plane".