• 14Sep

    I decided I wanted something red and white and simple for the beds in Sweden.  A checkerboard quilt seemed perfect, so I cut  a bunch of 2″ strips from my red and white fabrics and sewed them together.  Then I cut them in 2″ segments.


    I hauled them to a retreat with me!


    Then it was just a matter of sewing them together into longer and longer strips.


    You know the drill.  Once the strips were long enough it was time to sew them together.


    Here’s the first one when I finished it at the retreat and spread it on my bed.


    In keeping with the “simple” theme, I just quilted diagonally with wavy lines.


    But I didn’t go all the way in one direction, I did more of a chevron pattern.


    I was really pleased with the way it turned out.


    I found this cute bird print for the back.


    Each quilt was 40 squares by 50 squares, or 2000 squares!  (Scary when you say it that way!)

    full shot1

    Yes, I said “each quilt” because I made two of them!


    Here’s Bob getting his.  I gave it to him before we left home so he could put it in his suitcase!


    When we first got to Sweden, we had to sleep upstairs because our bedroom wasn’t remodeled yet.


    But once the remodel was finished, we brought the bed—and the quilts—downstairs to their new home.


    I didn’t like the way the Dala horses showed through the wallpaper.  It looked like they were in jail!  So, I added some fabric to the back of the headboard.


    Now I really must do something about pillows!


  • 10Sep
    Categories: Everything! Comments: 1

    It all started when our summer neighbor in Sweden, Karin, brought us a bottle of homemade rhubarb saft (pronounced “soft”).


    Saft is a fruit concentrate that you add to still or sparkling water for a refreshing summer drink.  It’s so delicious, I just had to try making some myself.  And Karin was nice enough to share the recipe.

    You will need:

    4 – 5 pounds rhubarb

    2 lemons

    Boiling water

    5 cups sugar

    2 pinches sodium benzoate

    2 pinches citric acid

    Wash the rhubarb and cut into 1/2″ slices. Place half in a heatproof pan or bowl.


    Wash the lemons and slice thinly.  Spread over the rhubarb in the pan.


    Add the rest of the rhubarb.


    Cover with boiling water.


    Cover with plastic or a lid and put in a cool place (our cellar worked great) for four days.


    Strain the fruit through a jelly bag or two layers of cheesecloth.  Let it run about 60 minutes.


    Add the sugar and boil for 20 minutes.  Let stand for five minutes and skim.

    Add preservatives.  Pour into warm bottles and seal.


    Pour about 2″ in the bottom of a glass.  Add flat or sparkling water.


    Perfect on a hot day!


  • 22Jul
    Categories: Everything! Comments: 1


    Much to my delight, I discovered we have several rhubarb plants in our yard here at our Swedish house. My grandmother was the best pie maker, and one of my favorites was her rhubarb custard pie. I couldn’t wait to make one!

    When I posted a photo of this on my Facebook page, several people asked for the recipe, so here it is. I didn’t have a pie plate here, so I used this 10” square pan. And, I didn’t have a rolling pin, so had to adapt a no-roll pie crust recipe I found online. I liked this one because it used both butter and oil.

    Rhubarb Custard Pie


    1-1/2 cups flour

    1 tsp salt

    2 tbl sugar

    ¼ cup cold butter, grated

    ¼ cup oil

    2 tbl milk

    Mix dry ingredients. Stir in grated butter to distribute evenly. Add milk and oil. Stir. Dough will be crumbly. Press into bottom and up the sides of a 10” square pan (a 10” pie pan or 9” x 13” pan would work, too). Chill while preparing filling.

    Rhubarb Filling

    3-1/3 cups rhubarb

    1-1/3 cups sugar

    2-1/2 tlb flour

    ½ tsp salt

    4 egg yolks

    1-1/3 cup heavy cream

    Cut rhubarb into small pieces and spread over crust. Whisk remaining ingredients. Pour over rhubarb. Bake at 350 degrees 50 – 60 minutes, until custard is set. About 5 minutes before pie is done baking, prepare meringue.


    4 egg whites

    ¼ tsp cream of tartar

    ¼ cup sugar

    Beat egg whites and cream of tartar until foamy. Gradually add sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form. Spread meringue over top of pie, all the way to the edges. Make peaks with the back of a spoon or edge of a spatula. Return to oven for 10 minutes, or until meringue is golden brown.

    You can serve this warm or cold. Refrigerate after a few hours.

  • 31May
    Categories: Everything! Comments: 2


    I actually made this pillow in nine minutes—and, I was taking photos along the way!


    It only required sewing two seams–TWO SEAMS!  This is for an 18″ pillow form.

    First, cut a half yard piece of your chosen fabric, 18″.  I got to thinking if you bought a half yard of fabric, you could skip this step!  And, no, I didn’t add anything for seam allowances, because I like my pillow to fit snugly.


    Take it to the ironing board and press it, getting rid of that fold mark in the middle.


    Now, back to the cutting board.  Lay the fabric facedown, lengthwise, with about 11″ hanging off to the left of your first mark.  Fold that hanging down part over so that the fold is along the first mark on your cutting board.  We’re taking advantage of the selvedges here, so this should be the selvedge without the printing on it.


    Now fold the other half over, making that fold along the 18″ mark.


    Stick some pins in along the top and bottom edges.


    Take it to your machine and sew the two seams!  I went back and forth where the fabrics overlapped.


    Reach in and turn it right side out!


    I use this little wooden gizmo to poke out the corners.


    Press again.


    Stuff in your pillow form and, voila!


    A quick pillow in just 10 minutes—or less!  It even looks good on the back!



  • 19May
    Categories: musings Comments: 3

    I wanted to embroider something to hang in my kitchen window in our Swedish house, and when I found these chickens doing their days-of-the-week chores, I knew they were the ones!



    These industrious gals have it all figured out–washing on Monday.


    Ironing on Tuesday.


    Mending on Wednesday.


    Shopping on Thursday.


    Cleaning on Friday.


    And baking on Saturday!


    If only it were that easy!



    I can’t wait to get them hung up in the window!


    I found these patterns online, on Pinterest.

    Screen Shot 2014-05-18 at 5.48.00 PM

    It says they are a TriChem pattern.

    Screen Shot 2014-05-18 at 5.47.50 PM

    I checked their site, and they aren’t listed.

    Screen Shot 2014-05-18 at 5.47.38 PM

    I assume they are an older, discontinued pattern.

    Screen Shot 2014-05-18 at 5.47.16 PM

    Although I don’t know why.

    Screen Shot 2014-05-18 at 5.46.28 PM

    I think they’re adorable!

    Screen Shot 2014-05-18 at 5.46.49 PM

    If there was a Sunday, I couldn’t find it!


  • 08May
    Categories: Everything! Comments: 7

    In Sweden, everyone takes their shoes off when they enter your house. Since floors can be cold, I thought it would be fun to have a basket of slippers for my guests.


    So I went to the local thrift store and bought a wool coat.


    It was 100% wool and very nicely made.


    It took me about a half hour to take it all apart.  I tossed the lining and any interfacing, and was left with a nice stack of wool.  I wanted to felt it so I tossed into the washer with a little soap and set the machine for the longest, hottest cycle to felt the wool.  Then I tossed it into a hot dryer.  Voila!  Felted wool!  Now the slippers will be washable!


    I looked around the web for tutorials on how to make slippers and found quite a few.  I found the one I liked best here and adapted it.

    Instead of tracing around my foot to make a pattern, I started by tracing around my shoe.


    I figured if I used the outside of my shoe, I’d be just right for seam allowances.


    I stacked up two pieces of wool and cut two soles.


    I also cut two long pieces 4″ x 31″.


    I bought some non-skid slipper stuff for the bottom and cut out two of those, slightly larger than the soles, planning to cut them down later.  I used some spray baste to stick them to the bottom of the soles.


    Then I made some bias binding.  I used scraps, but you can cut what you need out of 1/3 yard of fabric.  I cut six strips on a 45 degree angle and sewed them together.  Then I pressed the strip in half, opened it up and pressed the edges to the middle.


    I pinned the binding along one long edge of the strip.


    I used a triple zigzag stitch to attach it.


    I folded the long strip in half to find the middle, then started pinning at the heel and about half way along each side.


    Then I stuck my foot in there!


    I lapped one side over…


    …then the other.


    Then I continued pinning, feeling the sole underneath, and pinning around the toe.


    Here’s what it looked like from the bottom.


    I trimmed away the excess, took it to the machine and stitched around the perimeter.


    When you make the second one, be sure you lap the strip in the opposite direction.


    Then I borrowed Robin’s serger and went around the edges again.


    I made two small, two medium and two large!  I used Bob’s shoe for the large and just reduced mine for the small.


    Hopefully, everyone will have toasty toes when they visit!


  • 22Apr
    Categories: Everything! Comments: 6

    I love the glass doored cabinets in our Swedish kitchen.  The trouble is, I had nothing to put in them!  On a trip to Anthropology, I saw some cute cut-out letters and thought that would be a simple solution, but what letters?  Our initials seemed kind of weird.


    Then it hit me–why not write “kitchen,” but in Swedish.  The word is kök–just three letters.  And there were seven cupboards–three above window.  I went to the craft store and had to get creative to get the two dots above the “o”.


    I bought some red paint and gave everything a couple of coats.


    I found this scrapbook paper and decided to do some decoupage.


    The cutting out was a bit tricky.


    But the decoupage was fun!


    Bob made some great bases for me–and eventually figured out how to mount the dots above the “o”!


    Of course, when I got back to Sweden, I found I could have bought letters there–with the appropriate characters.


    The letters worked out great!


    It was tricky getting a photo without glare on the glass.


    But, the letters served the purpose–filling up some space!



  • 20Apr

    I found an inexpensive airfare to Sweden in March and decided to take a quick trip over there to look for some furniture for our Swedish house, primarily a bed so we’d have someplace to sleep this summer.  Instead, with Torsten’s help and encouragement, we remodeled the dining room!

    Here’s what it looked like in the real estate listing photos.


    The ceiling was natural knotty pine, the walls had plywood panelling….


    …and there was a wall of built-ins along one side of the room.


    It isn’t a very big room, so we removed the built-ins.  Since you can never have enough storage, we’ll find someplace else in the house to use them.


    Then I pulled the moldings and plywood paneling off the walls.  The old glue was quite dry, so they came off easily, but it took a lot of sanding to get rid of the glue that was left on the particle board.


    Now we had a bare wall where the cabinets used to be.


    And we just happened to have an extra window that we took out of the kitchen when we put a smaller one in there.  So, Torsten cut a hole in the wall and, voila! A new view!


    It even makes the outside of the house look better.


    I put a coat of paint over the particle board to seal it and mudded the seams–all in preparation for wallpaper above the wainscoting.


    Torsten nailed up the wainscoting…


    …and I painted it the same gray as we used in the kitchen.


    All of the moldings were painted white.


    The ceiling got four coats of white paint.  This is my “three-ladder-method” for ceiling painting.  Luckily the room wasn’t any bigger, or we would have needed more ladders!


    The old flooring was a yellowish brown sheet vinyl.  It didn’t look so great up against the gray Marmoleum in the kitchen.


    The solution?  Winter Oak Pergo!  Here it is, laid out in the bedroom acclimating to the house.


    I loved it from the minute we started putting it down.


    What do you think?


    Then my favorite part–wallpaper!


    Torsten is a saint.  Not because he can do everything, but because picking a geometric wallpaper for an old house would make most people swear like a sailor!


    He didn’t utter one cross word, and it looks terrific!


    The previous owners left us the dining room table, so of course we had to have fika in the newly finished room.


    There are still some things to do–like paint the table and the corner cabinet, and put up window coverings, but I think it looks pretty darned good for two weeks work!


    And, oh, I did buy some furniture.  On the last day before I left, we went to Ikea and bought a bed and nightstands–and this cute rug for under the table!


    I’ll be ready to host a dinner party before long!


  • 13Apr
    Categories: Everything! Comments: 6

    With beautiful weather predicted for this weekend, the time seemed right to open the Swedish cabin for the season.  The cabin is my little piece of Sweden in the woods behind my house.  A perfect retreat when I can’t be in  Sweden.


    There’s the typical herringbone door…


    …with hardware I brought home from Sweden.


    Everything was in the middle of the room, where we’d stacked it last fall.


    I bought this sweet doorstop at the hemslöjd (handicraft store) in Dala-Järna.


    This horse is a Nås horse, from the village where our house is.


    This wallhanging, made by Berit, commemorates my first visit to Sweden in 1981.


    Lots of mementos from different trips to Sweden.



    This iron candlestick is based on a very, very old design and has lots of religious symbolism.


    There’s no power in the cabin, so I have lots of candle holders!


    The sofa bed sports a special vintage quilt.


    Above it is this stitchery I brought home from a Swedish trip.  The text talks about the childhood cottage.


    This fabulous chair, with it’s original paint, was in the beach house my parents bought in 1963.


    I have wonderful relatives in Sweden.  Gunnar packed and shipped this corner cabinet to me after I bought it in an antique shop in Gagnef!


    These iron candlesticks are sharp and stick right into logs of the cabin.  They were made by a local blacksmith.


    A little rooster candle snuffer.


    Another wonderful wallhanging woven by Berit.


    The stairs to the loft are cut from a single log.


    These were bought from the basket maker in Tällberg.


    This flour box is very special to me.  It was given to me by Skräddar Anna, who, along with my Aunt Evelyn, kept the contact between Sweden and America after Anna Lena’s death.


    The loft is a perfect place to get away from it all.


    This little bench is also from my mom and dad’s house.


    The kubbstols on the porch came from the same log as the stairs.


    There aren’t many flowers blooming right now, but miner’s lettuce made a sweet bouquet.


    Every year I plant two more birch trees.


    I baby them along.  Someday I’ll have a whole birch forest–when I’m about 120!


    After Bob accidentally cut off a birch branch,  I was able to decorate with it!


    Last fall Berit and Gunnar gave us this flag for the cabin.  It’s the symbol of Dalarna.


    Bob put up the wind vane, too.


    It was a great day!

  • 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!