Christmas market in Malmö

Dear friends,
This weekend (1-2 December) I will be selling postcards and posters at the Christmas market at Mitt Möllan in Malmö. Most of them are plant themed. Some pictures are going out of print and I’ll be selling the last copies, these are limited edition and will not be printed again!

New for this market is that I’ll be bringing small surprise packages with different perfume samples, as well as bigger samples (5ml) that I’ll also be selling. Perfect and affordable Christmas gifts!

Come say hi, have a piece of chocolate and buy a print or two. See you there!

Facebook event

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Our chosen families

“The thing I regret is that I raised you as if you were straight. I didn’t know any different. I am so sorry. I’m so sorry. I knew… well before you did… that your life was going to be so hard. I knew that, and I wanted it more than anything in the world not to be the case. And I know I made it worse, because I wanted you to change because I knew the world wouldn’t.”

– Hannah Gadsby quoting her mother, in the Netflix special “Nanette”

A while back, I asked my Instagram followers a couple of questions. One of the questions was if they would be interested in seeing more gay content on my feed. Out of the 300 people that answered, 91% said yes, without even knowing what I meant by gay content. This partly proves the point I was trying to make with my last post about gay friends. We crave community and relatable content, even when we’re not exactly sure what relatable content actually is. (That, or people just want me to send nudes… But I prefer to believe that’s not it!)

Following this, I created a very simple and brief survey with three questions. 

  1. Do you identify as LGBTQIA+? (Yes/No)

  2. How many of your friends (that you meet up with on a regular basis) belong to this community? (All, More than half, Less than half, None)

  3. Do you wish you had more LGBTQIA+ friends? (Yes/No)

Obviously, this survey can not be used for scientific research. I can only reach people who follow me, most of whom are 20-34 years old, living in Europe and the Americas. Maybe the results would be insanely different if I could ask people in e.g. Iraq, Uganda and China. I have no idea. Just the fact that most of my followers live in countries where being anything other than straight is actually legal, and some of us even get to marry and have kids, that changes a lot for a survey such as this one. So I’m definitely aware that there are better ways of conducting these things, but I wanted to get a simple overview of how my followers feel. I wanted to know if they’re like me, if they feel like I do. And it seems the majority of the people who answered the survey do feel the same. 

150 people answered the three questions in 24 hours.

  • 82% identify as LGBTQIA+

  • 78% wish they had more LGBTQIA+ friends

  • 7% have no LGBTQIA+ friends

Two straight people answered they don’t have any LGBTQIA+ friends and three straight people don’t want any LGBTQIA+ friends at all. I’d love to know why you feel like this, if you’re one of those people who think labels are overrated or if you’re just homophobic. Either way, write me!  

Following this tiny survey, I started googling and researching the subject of ”gay friendships” even more. For example, I found this article citing a study saying that ”despite all the talk of our ’chosen families,’ gay men have fewer close friends than straight people or gay women.

Why are we so bad at finding friends? Why are we bad at keeping them? Is it our insecurities because of our backgrounds and upbringings? Something I really teared up with while watching Hannah Gadsby’s Netflix special was when she told that story of what her mother said to her about raising her straight. It resonated with me and so many people I know. 

Being brought up in a straight world, where the constant reminder is that if you’re not straight, you’re not normal, you’re different, you’re something else, a minority. You’ll eventually put yourself down too. Be it openly or just inside your mind, you’re worth less. You’re telling yourself you’re worth less. It takes its toll on you. And in a way we come to hate ourselves, and as a consequence also avoid other gay people because they’re worth just as little as we are. It takes years, sometimes half a life or more, to realize that we’ve been wrong all this time. 

And even if your parents are cool, society is a constant reminder that we’re not the norm. We’re different. And that likely won’t change. It’s hard to accept, but we just have to be OK with it. And we need to keep together. Our so-called ”chosen families” are more important than we might think. 

I’m going to quote this article again (I really recommend reading the whole thing!):

”It’s easy to ignore, roll your eyes and put a middle finger up to straight people who don’t like you because, whatever, you don’t need their approval anyway. Rejection from other gay people, though, feels like losing your only way of making friends and finding love. Being pushed away from your own people hurts more because you need them more.”

I couldn’t agree more. We all need to make our ”chosen families” bigger. And we have to take care of those families and friendships. I personally always want more gay friends. Lesbian, gay, trans, it doesn’t matter. I just need people who understand me because they’ve been through what I’ve been through. 

What about you?

My favorite places in Malmö and Copenhagen

My husband Vini and I receive visitors in our apartment in Malmö quite often. Sometimes family members, sometimes friends, all traveling from near and far. They are always in the mood for exploring Malmö and Copenhagen and so we usually take them to our favorite spots, and if there’s still time after that, we try to find something new that we don’t know of already. Here are some of our best spots for food, ice cream, parks and more. If you’re looking to do something else, you may find a lot of different options on the Pingle app. They have inspirational articles about what you can do in both cities, and they even let you create activities related to these, for you to meet and hang out with new people! 

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Malmö

  • Pildammsparken
    This park is the best one in Malmö, because it really is for everyone. There are playground spaces for families and kids and there is a luxurious restaurant (Bloom in the Park) for the foodies. For those who like to work out, there’s an outdoor gym, stairs to run up and down, or you can go for a jog around the lake. It’s also great for picnics, long walks and other activities. 
     
  • Mineral
    After getting to know the lovely owners of this vegetarian restaurant/wine bar, we can’t seem to stop ourselves from going, again and again and again. It has simply become the best hangout place in Malmö for us. We go pretty much once a week, sometime even more than that. The food is delicious and the company is always great. Let me know if you’re ever around and up for a drink, we’ll just hit Mineral together! 
     
  • Köld
    There’s ice cream, and then there’s ice cream. Köld makes the best ice cream in Malmö. I’d even say they make some of the best ice cream I’ve ever had. I’ve written about them for local newspapers a couple of times because of this fact, and I don’t see their success stopping anytime soon. It’s a bit of a shame they’re located in such a boring and dark food court, in an even more boring mall. But the original flavors and the fun banter with the ice cream maker definitely makes up for it. This place is great for anyone who loves ice cream, they even make lots of vegan flavors!
     
  • Västra hamnen
    In the summer, this is the hot spot for swimming and sun bathing. Lots of beautiful people and a great view towards the bridge and Copenhagen. When it’s not swimming season, we go here to show our visitors the interesting and unique architecture, as well as shop at the incredibly well stocked supermarket ICA Maxi. Take the bus home, cause you won’t be able to carry all the groceries, not even on your bike.   
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Copenhagen

  • Ma’ed
    If you’re into Ethiopian food, you’ve definitely come to the right place. And if you’ve never tried it, what are you waiting for?! Ma’ed makes delicious injera, a traditional sort of pancake that you eat with meats and veggies (vegetarian options also available of course). Perfect for sharing in couples or larger groups. 
     
  • Nice Cream
    Vegan ice cream all around! From the cute panda logo to the delicious flavours, everything at Nice Cream feels well thought out and cared for. You’ll have to go back several times to try all the flavors, they’re too good not to try all of them. 
     
  • Plant KBH
    The tiny little cactus store previously known as Kaktus KBH has re-emerged from the dirt and has become two beautiful shops filled with green jungle plants and pretty pots. Check out the one in Nordhavn for some bigger plants, and the one in Nørrebro for smaller houseplants. Plant lovers will be absolutely mesmerized with both stores.  
     
  • Søndermarken
    Basically the equivalent of Pildammsparken in Malmö. Walk your dog, go for a run, a picnic or maybe just read a book under a tree. Søndermarken is a lovely get-away from the somewhat touristy and busy shopping streets of Copenhagen. 

All of these places are great for visiting and exploring together with friends. But since we’re in Scandinavia, sometimes friends can be hard to find, or maybe they just don’t have time to meet when you’re feeling like going on an adventure. So a good idea is to get on Pingle and find some new like-minded people to do these and other activities with. You’ll also find me on there from time to time!

Pingle for iPhone
Pingle for Android

How to grow an Alocasia in water

A lot of people have asked about my Alocasia zebrina plants and how I’ve made them thrive in my home. First of all, let’s go through the zebrinas I have. There's a bigger one in water, that I rescued from very certain rotting death. It was gifted to me this spring. I also have several tiny babies, that I grew from the bulbs that I took from the big one. 

Let’s start with the big one (the bulbs will get their own blog post in a few days!). When I got it, the plant had two large beautiful but slightly sad leaves and the soil was super wet. No matter how long I waited, or how much wet soil I removed, it just wouldn’t dry. I figured that the type of soil must be wrong for the plant, and removed as much as I could, and repotted it. 

A big parenthesis: you might like to know that the soil that was in the pot was what came with the plant from the grower. I think it was some kind of coconut coir (or a similar medium). This is what most Alocasias are potted in, at least if they come from The Netherlands. I tend not to use coconut coir, as I think it keeps the water for too long. And once it’s gotten too wet, it’s quite difficult to get it back on a good level again. It does work wonders for some plants though. Actually my biggest Alocasia amazonica thrives in it. But i'ts potted with coconut coir that I’ve put there myself, and if I remember correctly I mixed it with something else (and I water it quite sparsely whenever it gets water). 

Back to the repotting of mama Alocasia: Getting new soil wasn’t really helping it either. I waited a month or so, but the leaves were looking more and more yellow each day. My last option was to remove all the soil and stick the plant in water. I also took the opportunity to remove all rotten and damaged roots, and take out the bulbs that were still intact. Several bulbs were soft and rotten already.

It only took about a week in water for the plant to regain some of it’s strength. It quickly started to sprout a new leaf. As soon as it did, I cut off the remaining yellowed leaves and I decided to move the plant into a new glass jar. It looked like a beautiful alien octopus...

Since that first leaf grew to its full stage, the plant has been spitting out a new leaf every 3 weeks, each one bigger than the last. The plant now has so many roots in that glass jar (see the picture at the end of this post), and it’s getting increasingly difficult to photograph the whole plant in one photo! I’m happy this method worked so well. For all of you Alocasia haters out there, this is what you need to do for your plant to be happy. I promise it will work wonders! 

I also received questions on Instagram about this plant and method, here are some answers: 

Where on the stem do I cut it off, and can I take cuttings? 
Do NOT cut off the stem of your Alocasia. If you want to save the plant and put it in water, you need to remove all the soil and put the whole root system in water. Do NOT try to take cuttings from an Alocasia, it will never work. The only way to produce new plants is to get bulbs from the soil, or if a bulb starts growing on its own and a new plant pops up from the soil. You might also 

Do you fertilize the water? 
No. I’ve never tried adding anything, but I guess you could leave it in minimally fertilized water for a couple of hours or a day, and then change the water? I’m not sure, but I wouldn’t leave it in fertilized water for a long time, it might be too much of a shock for the plant and the water roots. 

What about the size of the container?
Don’t worry too much about this if your plant is in water. I would just find a fitting vase/jar that gives the plant enough support around the sides. It needs to be quite tall (I might try to find a new one for mine soon) and not too wide. 

How do you keep the corm and the roots from rotting in water?
It simply does not rot in water! Alocasias tend to grow in moist and wet places, for example in the rainforest climate of Brazil. So if you have a true Alocasia, it should be able to handle the wet conditions. However, as I’ve mentioned above, they tend to rot fast and easy in certain mediums, such as coconut coir or very dense potting soil. These roots need oxygen, which they do get even when they’re in water. They don’t get enough of it in dense or very wet soil though. That’s why I recommend putting it in water if you’re having trouble keeping it alive in any other medium. 

Am I eventually going to put this plant back in soil? 
I don’t know. My Alocasia zebrina seems to thrive and be really happy as it is right now. I might change my mind about it in spring. But for now, and during winter, I’m definitely keeping it in water. And you decide for yourself what you’d like to do with yours. You might just want to use this method to save it from certain death and then when it’s recuperated put it back in soil. That’s fine!   

Is Alocasia zebrina toxic to pets? 
Just like a lot of other tropical plants, Alocasias are considered toxic to cats and dogs. If you have a pet, you might consider putting your Alocasia in a place where your pet can’t reach it. Or just don’t get an Alocasia. 

Checklist

  • Make sure your plant is actually an Alocasia of some sort
  • Remove as much soil as possible, and all rotten roots too
  • No direct sunlight, but give it plenty of indirect light
  • Change the water every 7-10 days
  • Sing Drake to get it to fall asleep every night (kidding) 
  • You’ll have a happy Alocasia in no time!

If you have any further questions, let me know in the comments below or in a direct message on Instagram!

 Look at those roots! Insane huh?! 

Look at those roots! Insane huh?! 

The importance of gay friends

 Alex, one of the fabulous people I met in Israel.

Alex, one of the fabulous people I met in Israel.

In the beginning of June I did a week long press trip to Israel. I was there together with a big group of gay journalists from all over the world. We were at the Pride parade, visited a youth LGBTQIA center, went to a water park and many other things. For the first time in a long time, I felt belonging, something I'd been missing for so long. 

As a minority, we need community. It doesn't matter which minority you belong to, it's always going to be true. It’s the same principle as with representation. I'm constantly looking for gay characters in the popular culture I consume (but let’s save that subject for another blog post). And I'm missing community where I live now. So I think back on my week in Israel, together with 15-or-so gay guys. I can’t say I’ve ever been in such a large group of gays before. A completely new setting for me. And what I felt was a sense of community with shared experiences and emotions.  

In our last dinner together, we talked a lot about gay rights, such as adoption, marriage and other things. Suddenly I got the question ”What is the gay scene like in Sweden?” and I was at a loss for words. I stumbled and didn’t say much, because there frankly isn’t much to say. Thank heavens the subject changed and we moved on to something else. But this tiny exchange stuck with me. And it relates to so many things I’ve thought about for years now. The sum of it is that being gay in Sweden is boring! I have almost no gay friends here. How do you even meet them when there are no venues for gays to hang out? Sure, there might be a night club in Malmö, a couple of bars in Stockholm and so on. But those are for meeting random people and ultimately having sex. They're not about meeting new friends. Same thing goes for Grindr. It's a huge struggle finding friends on an app where everyone else is looking for sex. Although I've actually found most of my gay friends on Grindr, it's not the ideal place to go. 

Finding new friends in general is no easy task. It might come down to the fact that most Swedes are quite happy and content with what they’ve got. Most people don’t seem to want or need any new friends. A recent study actually confirmed it gets increasingly difficult to make and maintain new friendships after the age of 25. I'm not surprised. To you who feel content and happy with what you've got, I congratulate you. You’ve won in the game we call life. I’ve never felt like a winner in that sense. Sure, I have my gay friends in Stockholm that I meet up with when I have the chance, and I love them very much. But out of the people I hang out with on a regular basis nowadays, how many are gay? Far too few.

Why is it important that I have more gay friends? you might ask. Well, connection is very important. We connect differently with different people, based on our needs and experiences. And for you to connect to someone, you should feel understood. We all want to belong and relate to each other, that's normal. But there is one thing that I'm pretty sure straight people will never be able to understand – the act of coming out. And that's one of the reasons why I continue to look for more gay friends. 

I came out when I was a teenager, around 15-16 years old. It was a tough and life changing experience that I’ll never forget. I won’t go into details right now, but everything went fine. I’m privileged to live in Sweden, where gays are widely accepted. Our rights are pretty great too. But it does take a lot of courage to come out. And even though I’ve been out for 15 years (half of my life), I still have to come out every time I meet a new person. When I talk about my husband to a new person, I have to come out. Every time someone asks me about my love life. And every time I do it, my heart skips a beat. Every single time. Straight people have never felt that, nor will they ever have to. They will never understand that intense feeling of utter dread, even if it might only last for the duration of a heartbeat. And I'm happy for them, because no one should ever have to feel that. But this fact creates a kind of division, and the connection between us is partly lost. 

I don’t mean to say I don’t like my straight friends. I love them and I consider many of them family. But the gay component is missing sometimes. And it’s something that can not be replaced. 

Many of the gays I meet also crave more gay friendships. Most of them mainly have straight friends, and the gay people they have met have either been one night stands or relationships. And then they don’t meet them again. So what do we do to meet friends within the gay community? Especially when we're in a city or country that doesn't have millions and millions of people. I am asking these questions because I don't have the answer. 

And bear with me please. I'm not finished. This blog post has taken me months to write, and I'm still thinking about it every day. I'll be writing follow-ups to this with more thoughts, so hold tight and join me on the quest for community. 

Recommended viewing: Nanette, a stand-up special from Hannah Gadsby, available on Netflix.

I am not an influencer

I’m pretty sure most of you have noticed I’m not posting as frequently on my personal Instagram account @olle_e anymore. For the past two years, I’ve become a so called “micro influencer” and all of what that entails. Feed curation. Fresh fashion. Free products. Holiday pictures forever. Perfect meals and flatlays. Legs for days. But it’s definitely not as glamorous and luxurious as many seem to think. And most important of all, it doesn’t feel like me.

It all started when I moved to Brazil. There, Instagram was a place for me to find friends that shared my interest in photography. I met so many people who shot interesting and creative stuff for their accounts. I was mesmerized and I felt like I had found my place. Many of my new friends had only a couple of hundred followers, and I think I had around 1k back then. As we hung out, created hashtags and photo projects, and shot new fun photos every week, those numbers quickly began to rise for all of us. By the end of my year in São Paulo, I reached 10k. 

Companies started getting in touch, wanting me to shoot and post photos of their products. Obviously, I was quite happy getting that attention, and getting products for posts. Many of the products were things I wanted or needed anyway. But soon, making my feed attractive for companies and followers became a full time job. I worried about things such as:

  • If my next post can get more likes than the last one
  • If the company will approve of my aesthetic vision of their product
  • If I could post a picture with the same t-shirt for a second or third time, or if that would be too basic...

I had a lot of products and companies wanting my attention. My worries and the creative stress of having to constantly come up with new ideas for companies could quickly be seen in my feed. The quality of my content decreased and, as a result, the engagement and likes also dropped at a pretty fast pace. My inbox was full of emails from upset ‘Social Media Coordinators,’ asking when I’d post a picture with their watch, or if I’d received that perfume they’d sent me 6 weeks earlier.

Who was I doing all of this for? Sure, about 1 out of 5 companies paid a small amount to hire me, and that’s part of what I lived off for a while. But I also paid a high price. I compromised my integrity, my creativity, my time and the interest my followers had in me. 

Nothing on my account was giving me inspiration, joy or fulfilment. And although I was still using Instagram a lot, I simply stopped posting for weeks at a time. And this went on for months, until I realized I have to stop working with products that sell an idea of an unobtainable and unrealistic lifestyle.

I am not writing this to challenge people who are influencers or who aspire to be. I’m sharing a personal crisis that has led me to question myself and the use of my voice on the platform. All of these thoughts have been going around and around in my head for months. I haven’t been able to put anything into words until now.  

So I’ll try to revamp my Instagram account. My goal is to get back to basics and reconnect with what’s important to me. Apart from sharing photos of things I truly enjoy, I would also like to post about subjects that I’ve become more interested in for the past year or two, like the LGBTQ+ community and body ideals. I’m hoping I can post more life and truth, and if any brands appear, they’ll be brands with values that I identify myself with. I need to embark on this journey of self therapy or whatever you want to call it, and hopefully people will be able to relate.

It’s time to get real. 

Remembering São Paulo

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I've put up a map of central São Paulo in our living room. I wanted it there as a reminder, of how far I've come, and how much I've changed. I lived in Brazil all of 2015 and a couple of months in 2016. In that time I made friends for life, got to know my partner's family, learned a completely new language and developed so much of my photography that it almost changed my visual identity entirely. And it's where I started loving tropical plants and foliage. But Brazil was also difficult for me. I couldn't find work outside of my online freelance bubble and I had a hard time integrating. I didn't feel like a part of Brazilian society, I was called a gringo everywhere I went and I couldn't tell the million pop culture references apart. This is probably not very different from what most people who move to the other side of the world experience and feel like, but nonetheless it was a special time in my life, good times and bad, and I wanted to remind myself of that. Seeing that piece of land on the wall feels really good, and I think of the people I know who are still there. I can almost see their houses on that map! 

If you're also looking to decorate your home with a customisable map from Mapiful, use my discount code "upleafting" to get 10% off. Valid until 31st of July. 

Are you pregnant?

Because everyone seems to be having kids these days. Most of my friends either already have one or two kids, or they're expecting. Many have been asking me to do pregnancy photo shoots, and I often brushed it off as something that I don't really want to do, that it's not my style. But recently I realised that I could just make it be my style. So from now on, I'm offering pregnancy photo shoots as a service here on my website. I'm based in Malmö, but can travel to near towns and cities, such as Copenhagen, Lund, and more. If you're pregnant and want some beautiful photos to remember that huge tummy, let me know! Or perhaps if you know someone who might want a photo shoot, you can give it to them as a gift.

Here are a couple of pics I've shot of my pregnant friends (click to see large versions): 

Older, but none the wiser

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Today is my 30th birthday. I thought my life would be different somehow. That old cliché of having it all. That old story of figuring things out. Having a steady income. Owning your own apartment/house. Kids. A dog. You name it, I thought I’d have it. 

Yes, I’m happily married and I couldn’t live without my amazing husband by my side. But do I have any of those other things? Not really. I don’t want to complain, I’m quite happy where I am at the moment. I just expected to have more, to be more and to feel more. 

And one thing I really thought I would be able to do when I turn 30 is have a big party. Maybe I never really dreamed of doing that, but it’s something I thought I would do, just because it’s the big three-O. But after 9 months in Malmö, I don’t have a big enough group of friends to have a party at all. Don’t get me wrong, the few people I know in Malmö are amazing, but naturally I also miss my older friends from Stockholm. Those people are part of my family, they are the people I knew as I became an adult. They were with me through hardships and happy moments. And so I expected to celebrate my 30th together with them. Stockholm was my home for so many years after all. And it still feels like home, even if it might take a while before I return to live there again, if ever. 

So, since there won’t be a party, Vini and I are going to Malta today. And we’ll be there over the weekend to explore and celebrate my birthday, just us. We’ve never been, and I’ve been dying to go! I’ve decided I won’t open Facebook from now until Monday, when we get back. So thanks in advance to everyone who wishes me a happy birthday this Friday, I won’t be replying but know I’ll see your messages at some point. I might however, open Instagram and post a photo or two. It’ll be hard not to! ;)

Is a beard just a beard?

I've had a beard for most of my adult life. I've only had a really long beard once or twice, and I wasn't very fond of it. I didn't understand it back then, but most likely I didn't enjoy it because I didn't know how to care for it. I've settled with a scruffy face nowadays, and I used to only just trim it once a week or so, and not care much more than that. But when I was in Italy a month ago, I went to an amazingly talented barber at Acqua di Parma and he taught me a little bit about beard care. 

Apparently, moisturizing is important! And a face mask now and then doesn't hurt. As well as face wash and hydrating creams. Well actually I knew that, but I never really cared. I thought my skin and beard looked fine without all of that. After the barber treatment in Milano however, my life is completely changed. Now I'm using so many different products, and I've also started combing my beard, even when it's short. I put more effort into details as well, with shaving the upper and lower lines of the beard. It does look a whole lot better afterwards, and my skin feels great! I'm a different person, no kidding. The only thing missing now is a beard brush. 

The products I use right now are: 

Which products do you use for your beard? Let me know in the comments or send me a DM on Insta!