Memories and carving pumpkins

 How do you celebrate Halloween?

In Sweden where I grew up, November 1st, is a day where you send a thought to loved ones that have passed away and you often visit their graves, put some plants and light a candle in their memory. I remember going with my grandmother to my grandfathers grave at the Eastern Cemetary in Malmo each year, and often also going to my paternal great grandmothers grave straight afterwards, to say a silent hello and to remember their life with us.

Östra kyrkogården Malmö, from here
Östra kyrkogården Malmö, from here

But more so, what is really more prevalent in my mind is the memory of feelings and sensations I got when entering this particular cemetery in late Swedish autumn. Often a rugged, cold and wet afternoon with not much sunlight, the remnants of once colourful leaves now turning brown on the ground as the photosynthesis gradually removes the chlorophyll from its veins. Muddled conversations from dark figures hunching over the graves of their forefathers, warm air blowing from their mouths as they say their hellos, how are yous and goodbyes. The flickering light from hundreds of individual candles that have been gently placed on each grave from somebody that needs to remember. A wet and stubborn runny nose turning red as the cold bites harder as darkness and evening sets in. The trees are almost naked now and the evergreen shrubbery and hedges line the grave divisions strictly ordering the system of the dead.
The sombre atmosphere is something that I treasure in my heart and in my memory. Tradition makes it happen and the landscape makes you feel it. 

from here

This way of celebrating Halloween predates the Christian church and is actually linked to Pagan Rituals of guiding the dead. The pagans believed that when summer was finished the dead returned home and needed people to light their way with fires, hence the lighting of candles, decorating and visiting of graves in modern time.
Here in Australia, I don’t quite know how it would feel like to experience the cemetery, tonight on the eve of the dead. I don’t know any dead people here. Although, being a landscape architect, I have of course wandered the aisles of many of the local cemeteries on days off but never on this night.
It would be such a different experience. First of all, we are going into summer here in Australia, so it would be warmer, perhaps more humid or dry, the mist, the wet air that is the fairy dance in the northern hemisphere is likely to be dust cloud from the gravel path here in the south, hovering slightly above the ground. Generally, my experience has been that the vegetation around the Australian cemeteries tend to be quite arid and bushy/thorny, almost like the dead themselves. They are not designed for grand displays of planting schemes; neither do they seem to be public spaces used beyond their primary program. But I haven’t seen them all, so I couldn’t possibly tell you that all of them are like this.

Östra kyrkogården Malmö, from here

Östra kyrkogården Malmö, from here

Commercially, Halloween to me is a pumpkin, little kids begging for sweets and money, horror on the television and a good excuse for grown up dress up parties and frolicking around.
Yes, I admit it. I bought a pumpkin solely on the premise that I’d get to carve into it and turn it into a scary looking piece of home decoration for a couple of nights in our house lit up with tea candles.

this years pumpkin

Buying a pumpkin and sitting down to watch Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas in candle light is as far as I get to celebrate the eve of the dead’s return to our earth this year as my two little darlings need their mum for bedtime.

Spiritually, I am sending thought to loved ones now passed. May they proceed in peace through the landscapes of memory.


callmegustie on etsy

I have finally made my first listing on etsy.

Being at home with my two young children I have decided to begin crafting scandi inspired designs and set up a work from home. I love the process of making and draw inspiration from the everyday as well as my Swedish heritage.

Out of my love for scandinavian and nordic design styles, colours and form, Stoccie Blue was born. Christmas is my absolute favourite holiday of the year and so I made a Christmas stocking out of burlap and cotton fabric. It is neat and rustic and blends in nicely in homes that are decorated with earthy colours and tones.

Stoccie Blue is the first in a series of stockings to come so stay tuned.

You can purchase Stoccie Blue here



A really nice part of being at home with my daughter is that I have time to make things for our household. Meaningful little gems that the family could (hopefully) hold onto, until one day when those things are handed down to the next generation.

I have over the years, run away from the concept of family, heritage, craft, nutritional, seasonal and holistic living and the idea of a comfortable home. But since having my first child, this has all changed and I nurture all of those things in a completely newfound and obsessive way.

 So my second child is about to join us (8 days to go) and I made him a little blanket that I can wrap him in and make him real snug. As Melbourne is still rugged, wet and grey and winter still has a stronghold on us. I call it the blanki, as this is a slang word for blanket in our house. 

I thought I'd share it here on the blog with you. It has a typical nordic look and feel about it, which suits well and which was a deliberate choice as I am beginning my journey to embrace and reclaim the heritage that I left 10 years back, not only for myself but to pass onto my children.

Of course, as a designer, I never really stop embracing the notion of reinventing myself and for the time being, I welcome the domestic goddess with open arms.


your special place

I went to yoga today. Ultimately I would've liked to be able to write that I had a nice fresh morning walk there, meeting and greeting people on the way, gazing into people's private gardens, observing the play of light, enjoying a late summer chill in the air before the heat of the day and the smoke of the city consume your senses. Well, I can't. I drove there. It is so far from where I live, it takes 20 minutes to drive. Melbourne, you are [not] magnificent in providing adequate public transport for east-west cross travelling. Instead I tuned into community radio and listneded to some jazz as I drove towards my (almost) weekly practice. I was early and had the opportunity to chit chat a bit with my teacher and she always has some nice and warm words to light up my mood.

Went through the yoga class with relative ease despite being amidst an ache running through my lower back through my butt and shooting into my thigh.

After the main bulk of the session, our teacher always asks us to relax and allow our breaths to take us to our very own special places. This, I must say, was a bit of a challenge for me as I more often than not begin an intellectual role play inside my head pondering A or B when I really should be allowing my process towards this place to guide me there. It is like design really. What have you done throughout your design process and how can this inform where you will take the project next.

The idea of my own very special spiritual place sounds great. I just don't think that I have one quite yet. 

I tried to tell myself that the place I was looking for was the forest clearing of my child hood that had flying gold particles in the air, fussy soft mounds of moss as a carpet, amidst blueberry bushes, chantarelle mushrooms and spruce trees filling the air with that musty fresh pine smell. Sure, nice place. But I am already there! As soon as I think about it, it is not about the journey there, but being there already. Where does this leave me?

Well, this morning, I spent the last 10 minutes of my yoga class, not relaxing but thinking about the fact that I wasn't allowing myself to find my spiritual place.

Next time.

Good Night
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