• 14Feb

    While we only took a day and a half off from working on the house while we were in Sweden, don’t think it was all work and no food!  From the very first day, we made sure there was coffee and a little something to eat, even if the atmosphere left something to be desired.  In Swedish, a coffee break is called a fika (FEE-kah).  And in Sweden, fika is taken very seriously.

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    Luckily, Bertil and Sonja left us a dining room table.

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    Berit and Gunnar came often to help—and bring fika!

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    And our neighbor, Byns Mats and Annacari welcomed us with a pensionärer kaka — a special and delicious cake.  Good thing I’d brought linens!

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    For awhile we had to move the table into the bedroom, but that didn’t mean we skipped fika!

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    My Aunt Evelyn was responsible for keeping my family in contact with our Swedish relatives, and I thought it fitting that I bring her china with me to our Swedish house.

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    I used it for the first time when Sven-Eric and Anna came for fika.

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    It was very special.

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    Fika isn’t always something sweet.  Sometimes it’s a sandwich.   Don’t you love a country whose cheese puffs are shaped like hearts!?!

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    And if we had Coke instead of coffee, there was no problem keeping it cold!

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    One day, when I had to drive to Vansbro to the hardware store, I stopped at the Vansbro Konditori for semlor – wonderful buns filled with almond paste and whipped cream!

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    Sometimes we brought a Thermos of coffee from Torsten’s, sometimes we got coffee at the mini-mart, and sometimes family or friends brought coffee.  Luckily, a few days before we left, we got our electric stove and were finally able to boil our own coffee!

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    So, as you can see, we worked hard, but, like good Swedes, we didn’t skip fika!

     

  • 31Aug

    I recently harvested a lot of lavender from my garden.  It’s all dried and clean, so it must be time to make some sachets!  It’s so easy and they’re perfect to tuck into closets and drawers—and to give away as little gifts.

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    I make these in two parts—a little muslin bag and a sachet pillow from the pretty fabric!  First, I make a little pouch to contain the lavender and cedar shavings.  This can be any fabric.  I generally use muslin, but it’s a great way to use up some scraps or ugly fabric, as it won’t be seen when the sachet is finished.  Cut a piece 5-1/2″ by 11″

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    Fold it…

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    …and stitch down the two long sides.  This is a perfect project for assembly line sewing!

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    I use both cedar shavings and lavender in my sachets.  I got the cedar shavings at the local hardware store in the pet department.  I think they’re used for hamster bedding!  They smell great, though, and are a great deterrent for moths.  In the studio I have a little doll’s tea set, so I used a cup from that.  I’d say it’s about a quarter cup.  I used four scoops of cedar shavings and one of lavender.

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    The bags are cut a little oversized so it’s easy to sew them closed.  I sewed with about an inch seam allowance.

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    Then, to reduce bulk when I put it in the sachet pillow, I trim away the extra.

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    All done with this step!

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    Now it’s time to pick some pretty fabric.  I bought this beautiful piece in Sweden this summer.  To make the sachet pillow, you need one piece 4-1/2″ x 5-1/5″ and two pieces 3-1/4″ x 5-1/2″.

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    You need to finish one long side of each of the smaller pieces.  To do this, press over 1/4″, then press again—another 1/4″.

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    Take the pieces to your machine and stitch down.

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    Now place one of the hemmed pieces on the 4-1/2″ x 5-1/2″ piece, lining up raw edges.  The hemmed edge will be in the middle.

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    Take the other small piece and do the same thing, lining it up with the remaining raw edges.

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    At this point, you could pin, but I don’t.  Just take this to your machine and sew around all four sides with a 1/4″ seam allowance.

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    Trim the corners.  This makes it easier to get nice, sharp edges when you turn the pillow right sides out.

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    Open the little pillow at the hemmed edge and turn right sides out.

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    Push out the corners and press.

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    Now it’s time to insert the little muslin bag.  Just slip it one edge of the pillow cover.

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    Then tuck it up under the remaining side!

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    You may have to wiggle it a little bit to get it to lay in there nicely, but that’s it, that’s all there is to it!

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    You have a pretty little sachet!

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    When I’m making them for gifts, I like to put two together with a pretty ribbon.

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    You can use any kind of fabric for these.  Home dec fabric works great.  Here’s some hand woven fabric that I bought at a handcraft shop in Sweden.

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    I hope you’ll try making some of these—and send me photos when you do!

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  • 27Jul

    A few months ago, I decided it would be fun to have a garden party this summer.  We hadn’t done one in several years.  Then we went to Sweden for three and a half weeks, and when we got home, I had to scramble to get everything ready.  I always say I work best under pressure!  That, and help from family.

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    We put all the tables together, covered them with white cloths and topped them with vintage tablecloths from the forties.  In honor of our recent trip, we decided on a Swedish theme.

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    I loved the look of one long table.

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    Thanks to Melinda…

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    …and Kristine for the gorgeous flower arrangements.

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    We set up beverages and hors d’oeuvre under the pergola.

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    We had three kinds of Swedish cheese, Västerbotten, Präst (priest) and Fontina as well as a selection of hard bread.

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    We also did Toast Skagen, Västerbotten Cheese Bites and a Pickled Beet appetizer.

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    I got out my vintage ringed glasses and pitchers for the Lingon Drink.

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    Sally, super shopper that she is, found these great tubs for the wine, beer, apple and pear drink.

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    It was f fun mix of people.  There were 66 in all.

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    And while it wasn’t sunny, it was very pleasant.

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    Friends from near…

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    …and far.

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    We played the Swedish game, Kubb.  You can guess which team won!

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    We set up the Swedish smorgasbord in our garage.  Note: if you need to clean your garage but can’t get motivated, plan a party where you set the food up in there and you’ll get everything spanking clean!

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    The Swedish centerpiece.

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    Of course the featured food was Swedish Meatballs with Cream Sauce.

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    We also had Little Smokies with Lingon Sauce.

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    There were boiled potatoes with fresh dill.

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    Lingonberry Sauce and Pickled Herring.

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    This cabbage salad is called Pizza Salad in Sweden–as in it’s served in every pizza restaurant.

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    We also had a cucumber salad.

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    Mini Swedish flags adorned the Deviled Eggs with Shrimp.

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    Mom was first to the table!

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    I think everyone enjoyed their meal.

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    And we ended it with Strawberry Torte using Berit’s recipe.

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    Var så god!

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  • 04Jun

    I recently pinned a cute crafty idea from Melanie Dramatic on Pinterest for some fabric covered clipboards.

    Then I got two graduation announcements and wondered about gifts–and the lightbulb went off.  I could make some cute clipboards!

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    I hope they like them!

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  • 12Mar

    My latest fabric collection is called Christmas Morning.  It has this panel:

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    I know it’s a little hard to see, but as I get the blocks embroidered, I’ve been posting them on my Anna Lena Facebook page.  You can “Like” the page and you’ll see the blocks as I finish and post them.

    The blocks tell a story.  The first one is darling kids mailing their letters to Santa.

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    In the second block, Santa has received their letter and is looking it over.

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    Meanwhile, the kids are decorating their house in preparation of Santa’s visit.

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    Now I think these children are just adorable, and I also think they need names!  So, will you please leave a comment with a suggestion for names for these two?  I’ll pick my favorite boys name and favorite girls name, and the winners (the first to suggest the name) will each receive a free Christmas Morning panel.  You have until March 17 to leave your comments!