• 11Apr
    Categories: Everything! Comments: 2

    Recently I wanted to make a quilt for one of my Swedish relatives, Torsten.  He has been so wonderful to Bob and me, helping us with our new house there.  I fell in love with a quilt I saw at the Wild Rose Quilt Shop and bought the pattern and fabric.


    Of course, when I got home, I thought, “Gee, I have some fabrics that would look good in here,” and started digging in my stash!  Before you know it, instead of using two reds and two neutrals, I had six or eight of each.  I couldn’t wait to get started–and whipped up a sample block.


    Notice those four little light triangles at the base of the diamonds.  Those were made by sewing and flipping a white square on, then trimming the excess.  Well, that “excess” was too big to throw away!  I discovered if I put four of them together, I could make an adorable pinwheel block!


    I was barely started on the first quilt and already thinking how I could  make another quilt from the leftovers!  Perhaps it would be fun to make a quilt for Emmy, Torsten’s daughter, too!

    So I kept on, making the regular blocks and the “bonus” blocks.  I was really pleased with the way Torsten’s quilt turned out.


    I was a little surprised when I put it up on the design wall, though. The look totally changed.  Instead of seeing stars, like this….


    When it was all put together they looked like wheels!


    Funny the tricks your eyes can play!

    So, the pinwheel blocks were pretty small.  In order to get a decent sized quilt, I put them together with a pretty print to make nine-patches.


    Then I added some more of the print as setting squares.   On to the quilt machine and before you know it…


    …I had two quilts!


    But then, you see, there were these strips left over.

    This is Nora.


    Those strips were just perfect to make a quilt for her, too!


    Everything got wrapped up and sent off to Sweden for Christmas!


    I hope you noticed the paw print ribbon on Nora’s package!


  • 09Mar

    One of my mom’s health care providers, Sayonara, thought it would be fun to give me a housewarming party for the new house in Sweden!


    She enlisted Mom and Sally’s help and they put together a wonderful party at Mom’s house.


    Sy decorated the entry with the Swedish colors.


    And the Swedish theme continued with the table settings, of course!


    Sally has the perfect blue and yellow dishes for just such an occassion!


    And she has table linens to match.


    I was able to provide something Swedish for the center of the tables, like fold out Dala horses and…


    …these charming little candle holders.


    This is our dear, dear friend Peggy.


    She sent a bouquet of flowers in the perfect colors!


    Luckily, there are enough Scandinavians in the Northwest that it’s easy to find special Swedish foods…


    …like this Leksands Knäckebröd, which is produced not far from our house in Sweden!


    Mmm. Hard bread!


    Sally did a perfect Swedish meal–meatballs, cream sauce, lingonberries, boiled potatoes with dill and Swedish cucumber salad.


    Melissa made the trip from Bend, which was very special.


    The gifts were beautifully wrapped.  How perfect is this for a Swedish party?


    There was lots of red and white to reflect the theme of the kitchen in Sweden.




    Everyone was sooooo generous.  I’ll have the best stocked kitchen in the neighborhood.


    And I’ll be able to entertain with the traditional seven kinds of cookies!


    I made traditional Swedish “cooked” coffee to go with dessert.  That’s boiled coffee for the uninitiated.


    There’s a bakery in Kirkland that specializes in Princess Cakes!


    And Karen Rollman made this adorable (and delicious) Dala horse cake.


    Everyone went home with a goodie bag filled with Swedish candies.


    It was such a fun afternoon, and so sweet of my friends to honor me in this way.  Thank you, all.


  • 19Feb

    Once the cabinets were in, it was time to put up the wainscoting, which was painted a pale gray.


    I had hoped to find a wallpaper that looked like stenciling, and I did!


    Lucky for us, Torsten is a jack-of-all trades.


    I couldn’t be happier with the way the wallpaper looks.


    You can see how the wallpaper wraps around the room.


    Corner and ceiling moldings complete the look nicely.


    Our refrigerator didn’t arrive before we left, but Torsten sent a picture.  I love the shape and the color!  Now to find the perfect skinny cabinet to go next to it!


    The window still needs molding, but I had to play with placing a Dala horse on the sill.


    Or perhaps he looked better in one of the high cupboards?


    I even had a few things to put inside the cupboards.


    It’s really looking great, but there are a few things to do, like the hood and tile black splash.


    I love the little details, like the porcelain knobs on the kitchen cabinets,


    We used similar hardware on the door.


    We chose a vintage style for the light switches and…




    The faucet, too, has a vintage feel.


    After weeks of construction, it was fun to put out the towels I’d made.


    I had fun adapting some Aunt Martha patterns.


    I added a Dala horse to each one.


    Even though they are a bit corny!



  • 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.


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


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


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


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


    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.


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


    It was very special.


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


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


    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!


    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!


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


  • 08Feb

    At the end of December, we returned to Sweden with the plan to get the new kitchen done in just under a month!  We were down to bare walls and floor.  My first job, hammering in all of the nails on the floor to be sure everything was smooth!


    I mentioned in an earlier post that the existing window came down too low to allow a counter under it, so we bought a new window.


    You can see how much lower the other one was.  You can also see that it’s very dark out!  Sunrise was at 9:30 and sunset at 3:00!


    We covered the walls with new plasterboard and decided to paint the ceiling white.  Bob suited up and put on four coats of paint–two of oil based sealer and two latex.


    In the meantime, I painted the panels for the wainscoting a pale gray.


    I had chosen linoleum tiles for the floor, mostly gray with a few red.


    Torsten and Bob did a good job of interpreting the design I sketched out on a piece of plasterboard!


    Ever since we’d bought the house in September, I’d been planning the kitchen on Ikea’s nifty kitchen planner.

    Screen shot 2013-12-07 at 9.41.22 AM

    So off we went to Ikea, plan in hand.


    Bob and Torsten looked over installation brochures while we waited for assistance.


    Here’s our kitchen – in boxes!


    It took two rooms to put them all!


    And then the fun began!  Torsten and Gunnar figuring it out.


    Is it all going to fit?


    The Ikea system uses rails that are mounted on the wall, and the cabinets hang from them.


    You have to love the Swedish instructions, because they tell you to take a “fika” (coffee break) after getting the rails up!


    We did as told, then the guys started hanging the cabinets.


    Let’s see, put tab “A” in slot “B”.


    Like all old houses, are walls weren’t exactly straight, but with some tweaking, everything went up.


    It was exciting when the doors started going on.


    I couldn’t resist putting a Dala horse in one of the cabinets!


    The new stove fit perfectly between the cabinets and the wood stove!


    Once the cabinets were in, the wainscoting was next.


    A little electrical work….


    ….and the proud installers!


    Next, the finishing touches!

  • 07Feb

    I think at one time, every Swedish house had a vedspis – wood stove.  Often they had one in the kitchen and one in an upstairs apartment.  Many houses still have them, but many have been removed.  Our house had one originally, but it had been replaced by the freestanding fireplace which we removed when we dismantled the old kitchen.  They are quite different than wood cookstoves in America.  I decided right away that I wanted one, and when I mentioned to one of my Swedish relatives, Sven-Eric, that I was going to look for a renovated one, he told me he had two in his barn, and I was welcome to take one!  I learned this on my way to the airport, so I didn’t get a chance to look at them.  Luckily, Torsten took charge and uncovered them.  One was cracked, but one was in good shape.  Well, relatively speaking!


    Before we returned to Sweden, Torsten and his mason friend, Mikael, got the vedspis put in place for us.  First they had to shovel a path to the barn where it was stored.


    These wood stoves aren’t freestanding, so a brick base had to be built.


    They could see where the original vedspis had been.


    This part is for wood storage.


    It is cast iron like the stove and has two doors.


    Once the base was built, the vedspis was set on top.  Nice and level!  The top left door is the firebox, the one below is the clean-out and the big one is the oven door, with a built-in thermometer!


    More bricks to surround it.


    The right side is complete.


    Mikael is leaving a space for a water cistern next to the firebox.


    Then the bricks get covered with a special cement.


    It’s beautiful!  If you compare this photo to the first one, you can see that Torsten did a lot of work removing old rust and, undoubtedly, years of grime!


    Here’s the wood storage with the doors on.


    The stove was in relatively good shape, leading Mikael and Torsten to speculate that it was in an upstairs apartment and not used too much.


    You can see the layers of paint on the old chimney–and evidence of a chimney fire!


    We had to grind all of the old paint off so it can be re-cemented.  Ugh.  It was a nasty job.


    We found an old copper cistern on an online auction site.


    The heat from the firebox heated the water, so you always had hot water to wash your dishes!


    Did you know there is really something called Stove Black—and it does just what the name says?


    You can see what a difference it made!


    The cement will be painted white, as will the hood which will be built over this and the electric stove.


    And it makes the kitchen so cozy when you have a fire!


    Thank you, Sven-Eric, Torsten and Mikael!




  • 06Feb

    When we bought our house in Sweden in September, we knew the first thing we wanted to do was remodel the kitchen.

    It had a large, freestanding fireplace that kind of blocked the door as you entered.


    We knew it had to go!  Let me tell you, it was one heavy dog!


    There was a lovely window that let in a lot of light, but it was so big, that there was no room to put a counter under it.


    And the sink and stove were right next to each other.  I thought it would be nice move the sink under the window.


    There was an island and two floor to ceiling cabinets on the left in this photo….


    …one of which held the oven.


    And on the opposite wall was a huge refrigerator and huge freezer!  It was all quite cramped.


    We decided to take it all out!


    Right down to the bare walls.


    So that’s what we did!


    It’s amazing what you uncover in an old house, like an old doorway, layers of old wallpaper and signs of a chimney fire!


    I loved looking at the old wallpapers, and tried to preserve a little of each.  This is the oldest and original, from 1930 when the house was built.


    This one, which has orange in it, was next.  It almost looks like old linoleum.


    There was this rather plain basket weave.


    My color scheme for the new kitchen is white, gray and red, so imagine my delight when I found this one in those very colors!


    Tearing out a kitchen is a big job–and we did it in two days–then headed back home.


    Of course we were anxious to get back and start on the new kitchen, but that had to wait.


  • 26Dec
    Categories: Everything! Comments: 9

    I’m lucky enough to live very close to my mom, and we go out to lunch almost everyday.


    But Bob and I are heading to our Swedish house for almost a month, and Mom’s worried she’s going to really, really miss us.  And when you’re 90, it can be hard to remember just when we’re coming back.  So, I decided a little visual reminder might be good!


    I got some adorable little bags and stickers at Scrapuccino’s.


    I did the countdown and Bob punched holes.


    I added a few notes here and there.


    And then it was candy time!


    I filled each bag with a piece of candy.


    Then I added a little pink ribbon—Mom’s favorite color.


    Luckily, I had an empty box from Christmas…


    …and they fit perfectly!


    I hope it helps the days go by a little faster.

  • 18Dec
    Categories: musings Comments: 0

    Here’s another favorite from Bob’s side of the family.  His mom made them every Christmas.  They have a brown sugar dough and a filling of dates and walnuts.  Yum!



    Date Pinwheels

    Ingredients for Cookies:

    4 cups flour
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    4 sticks butter
    2 cups brown sugar
    3 eggs, beaten

    Ingredients for Filling:

    2-1/4 cups chopped dates
    1 cup sugar
    1 cup finely chopped walnuts
    1 cup water

    Put first three ingredients in a bowl.  Stir with a whisk to combine.

    In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, cream butter and brown sugar about 2 minutes.  Add the eggs and mix until well blended.

    Add the dry ingredients in three or four parts to butter mixture.  Mix until a nice ball comes together.

    Divide the dough into three equal balls.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour.

    While dough is chilling, prepare filling by combining dates, sugar, walnuts and water in a saucepan.  Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and cool.

    On a lightly floured board, roll out one ball of cookie doing into a 12″ x 8″ rectangle.

    Spread a third of the date filling evenly on the dough.

    Beginning with the long side, roll the dough up jelly roll style.

    Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.  Repeat with the other two balls of dough.

    With a sharp, thin knife, slice rolls into 1/4″ thick slices.

    Place 1″ apart on a cookie sheet.

    Bake at 375 degrees for 8 – 10 minutes.

    Yield – 144 delicious cookies!

  • 12Dec

    Today we leave Sweden and travel to Scotland for out latest cookie — Scottish Shortbread.


    While not Swedish, they are a perfect, buttery cookie to go along with our others.  And, besides, they’re a tradition in Bob’s family.  This is his Scottish grandmother’s recipe and has been passed down through his dad.  And, now, I’m happy to say, his boys are sharing it with their kids, too!

    This simple cookie has only three ingredients — butter, sugar and flour!  The final product can take on many shapes, but this year, we did “coins.”  Start by dividing the dough into fourths and rolling out a log 1-1/2″ to 2″ in diameter.


    We like to roll these in colored sugar.


    Just sprinkle some on a piece of waxed paper…


    …and roll!


    You can use lots of different colors.


    Roll each log up in waxed paper and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.  Then, slice them with a sharp knife into little coins.


    Bake until they just start to brown.  I overcooked some of mine.  ;-(

    But, we still plan to eat them!


    Scottish Shortbread

    4 sticks butter
    1 cup sugar
    4 cups flour

    In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, cream butter and sugar about 2 minutes.

    Add flour in three or four parts to butter mixture.  Mix until a nice ball comes together.

    Knead lightly and divide into four pieces.  Roll each piece into a log approximately 1-1/2″ to 2″ in diameter.

    Roll in colored sugar, wrap in waxed paper and refrigerate two hours or overnight.

    Slice into “coins” and bake at 350 degrees for 10 – 12 minutes.

    Yields 100 cookies.