• 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.

  • 10Dec
    Categories: musings Comments: 0

    It’s Day Two of Seven Kinds of Cookies–the traditional number of cookies served with coffee in Sweden.  So, what’s more appropriate than Swedish Spritz.


    These cookies require a special press or gun.


    I got mine in 1974!  Can you tell by the avocado green and big daisy?


    It’s a basic, shortbread dough that’s pressed through the gun onto your cookie sheet.  BIG TIP!  Sometimes they don’t want to stick to the cookie sheet.  The best way to improve this is to refrigerate you cookie sheets!  Then, it will work like a dream.


    Sprinkle your cookies with colored sugar and bake.


    That’s all there is to it.  Enjoy!



    Swedish Spritz

    4 sticks butter
    1 cup sugar
    2 tsp vanilla or almond extract
    2 eggs
    4-1/2 cups flour
    1 tsp salt

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

    In a separate bowl, combine flour and salt.  Whisk together to mix, then add in three or four parts to butter mixture.  Mix until a nice ball comes together.

    Fill your cookie press and press out onto a chilled cookie sheet.

    Sprinkle with colored sugar.

    Bake 6-8 minutes in a 400 degree oven.


    Yield–a lot!


  • 09Dec
    Categories: Everything! Comments: 4

    It is the tradition in Sweden that you offer your guests seven kinds of cookies when you have them over for coffee.  Now that Christmas is coming, cookie baking is in full swing for me, so I thought I would share my seven favorite cookie recipes with you.  First is Hallongrotor – Raspberry Caves.  This is the first year I have made them, and they are my new favorite!


    Once you make the dough, which has fresh orange rind in it, you roll them into little balls and put them into lined mini-muffin tins.


    You need to make a “cave” for the jam.  You could use your finger, but I found the end of this scoop worked great for me.


    Then it’s time to add a bit of jam.  Raspberry is traditional, but I suppose you could use whatever you like.  Before you put the jam in, brush the tops with a bit of water.  Then, add the jam and sprinkle with pearl sugar.


    I used to bring pearl sugar home from Sweden with me, but now you can find it at Ikea!


    The jam bubbles up a bit during baking.




    Hallongrottor – Raspberry Caves

    2 sticks butter
    1 cup sugar
    zest of 1 orange
    2 tsp vanilla extract
    1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
    2-1/2 cups flour
    1 tsp baking powder
    1/2 tsp salt
    Pearl sugar
    3/4 cup raspberry jam

    In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, cream butter and sugar about 2 minutes.  Add orange zest, vanilla, egg and yolk.  Mix until well blended.

    In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt.  Whisk together to mix, then add in three or four parts to butter mixture.  Mix until a nice ball comes together.

    Using you hands, shape pieces of dough into balls, about the size of a walnut, and place in lined mini-muffin tins.

    Make an “cave” in the top with your finger or the end of a kitchen utensil, like the scoop I used.

    Brush the top of the cookies with a little water.  I did one pan at a time.

    Fill caves with raspberry jam and sprinkle with pearl sugar.

    Bake 15 minutes at 350 degrees.

    Yield 48




  • 05Dec

    A good friend of my sister’s lost her husband a few years ago.  She still had three of his Hawaiian shirts in her closet, and when she saw a quilt made out of old shirts, she knew she wanted to use the Hawaiian shirts for quilts for her three children.  Since she’s not a quilter, Sally put the SOS out to me.  The timing was perfect, as we were going to a retreat at The Wild Rose.

    Sally brought along the shirts and I started unstitching them.


    It was really a bigger job than I thought, but I wanted to make the most of the fabric.  I ended up cutting the shirts into 4-1/2″ squares.  I divided them in thirds and put one stack up on the design wall to balance out the colors.


    I wanted the quilts to be similar, but still different, and I wanted the prints to be the “stars” of the show.  So I decided I would use solids and set the blocks together with sashing and cornerstones.



    It’s a very simple setting, but I think it served its purpose.





    I finished them off with a simple stipple.


    Each shirt had a pocket, so I stitched one to the back of each quilt.


    I was pleased with the way they turned out.


    I’m sure the kids will treasure them.



    If you want the fabric requirements to make one of your own, they’re below.  This is also a great way to show off fussy cut, novelty prints or even photo transfer blocks.

    Hawaiian Shirt Quilt


    1 Hawaiian shirt (I got enough squares from each shirt to do one quilt, but I mixed them up for interest)

    7/8 yard cornerstones and inner border fabric

    2-1/4 yards sashing and outer border

    4 yards backing

    From the Hawaiian shirts cut 80) 4-1/2″ squares

    From the cornerstone/inner border fabric, cut 10) 2-1/2″ strips.  Cut four strips into 2-1/2″ squares for cornerstones. Use remaining squares for inner border.

    From the sashing/outer border fabric cut 18) 2-1/2″ strips; crosscut into 142) 4-1/2″ x 2-1/2″ rectangles for the sashing.  Then cut 7) 4-1/2″ strips for the border

    Cut the backing into two equal pieces.

    I pulled the backing around to the front of the quilts and machine stitched for the binding.





  • 13Oct

    Yesterday I taught a class on the Hunter’s Star at Boardwalk Quilts.


    I love the ruler from Deb Tucker, that makes this pattern so easy and precise.  I made step-by-step samples for class from solid yellow and  vintage white.


    My goal was to have each student complete at least four units to make one star–and they did!

    Joe Ann was the first.  She used fabrics she’d bought at my store before it closed five years ago!  Who says it isn’t important to have a stash?!


    Right behind her was Earlene, who was outside her comfort zone, using browns.


    This dark blue batik on a stark white that Suzy made was really striking.


    Sandy’s black and gold on cream looked great.


    Susan had success with the green and white tone-on-tone fabrics she used.


    Barbara told me she hadn’t taken a class in years, but you’d never know it when you look at her block.


    Isn’t Joyce’s red and yellow version stunning?


    I wish you could see Susan’t fabric in person as it was really beautiful and her blocks turned out great.


    Judy’a gold and red combination was a winner.


    Elena had never taken a quilt class before!  The icy blue and silver snowflakes worked together great.


    And Lonna’s choice of a rich batik and pale aqua looked amazing.


    Joe managed to get all 16 units finished and sewn together.  You can see how the secondary star forms in the middle where the blocks come together.


    I was so proud of all of them and have confidence they’ll all get their tops finished at home.

  • 28Sep

    We really did it.  We bought a house in Sweden.


    This has long been a dream of mine.  I fell in love with a different house on a real estate website and we went to Sweden intending to buy it.  However, it didn’t live up to the photos, so, disappointed as I was, we said “no.”  Luckily, there were two other possibilities.  I love the setting of this one.  The house and outbuildings surround the yard.


    The house was built in 1930, and an addition, including the porch and an entry hall seen here, was added in 1989.  The house is very livable, but we already have plans for some changes, including removing this porch and replacing it with something more like the original.


    The outbuilding on the left is made of log and part of it was built in the 1200′s!  It’s hard to wrap my mind around that date.


    These pictures are from the real estate listing.  When we saw it, it wasn’t furnished.

    Here’s the entry hall that was added in 1989.  The two round windows were originally on the outside of the house.


    The living room is a nice size, as it used to be two rooms–the living room and a bedroom.


    The short wall behind the corner fireplace used to extend across to divide the two rooms, and it’s kind of awkward with the fireplace sitting at an odd angle–something we plan remedy, although we don’t have a definitive plan for it yet!


    This free standing fireplace is in an odd location–the doorway that leads to the kitchen.  It was part of the 1989 remodel and was attached to some ductwork that helped spread the heat throughout the house.


    The kitchen was rather awkwardly laid out without much counter space.  I’m sure the island was there to remedy that problem, but it made it hard to move around.


    We only had possession of the house for two days before we came home, but we have entirely removed the kitchen and made plans for a new one!


    The dining room is a part of the 1989 addition.  There is a ton of built-in storage along the right wall.  The sellers left us the table and chairs and the little cabinet on the left wall, so we’re not entirely without furniture!


    The other part of the addition was a bedroom and three bathrooms–two down and one up.


    Upstairs, at the top of the stairs, is a bonus room.  The doors to the left lead out to a deck that looks toward the river.  I can’t wait to sit out there on a warm summer morning, enjoying a cup of coffee.


    Here’s the upstairs bedroom.  I think we’re going to have to fill it with beds and make it dorm so everyone can come visit!


    So many of the homes I’ve visited have aerial photos taken in the fifties.  I stumbled onto a website that has thousands of them, and found one of our house!  I’m going to order one to hang on the wall.  If you look closely, you can see the original porch.


    So, what was my first purchase for the new house?  The little tart forms you can see in our China cupboard!


    Here’s what they look like close up.  Perfect for individual apple pies!


    The second was a pair of chairs from a loppis, a kind of permanent garage sale.


    I can’t wait to get back do more!

  • 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.


    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″


    Fold it…


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


    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.


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


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


    All done with this step!


    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″.


    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″.


    Take the pieces to your machine and stitch down.


    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.


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


    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.


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


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


    Push out the corners and press.


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


    Then tuck it up under the remaining side!


    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!


    You have a pretty little sachet!


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


    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.


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




  • 29Aug

    I am fascinated by the Swedish fäbod.


    The best translation for a fäbod that I know is a summer pasture…


    …but it’s more than just a pasture.


    In the province of Dalarna, where Anna Lena came from, it wasn’t easy to eek out a living on the small farms.


    Most of the farms were near small villages in the valleys.


    In the summer, you couldn’t turn your animals out into the fields around the farm because you needed the grass to grow up so you could cut it for hay.  That way you’d have something to feed the animals in the winter.


    So in the summer, the animals were taken high up into the forest to forage.


    Each farm had grazing rights in certain areas of the forest.


    Small cabins and barns were built and the old grandmas and young women would spend the summers there, tending to the cows and goats.


    It was a big day in the spring when nearly the entire village would drive the animals up to the summer pastures.


    The men helped ready things, then left the women there for the summer.


    The work was hard, beginning at 4:00 in the morning.  The women milked the cows then let then out into the forests.  While the animals grazed, the women made cheese and butter.


    In the evening they would bring the cows back in from the forest.  It was a big responsibility, and many things could go wrong.


    My grandma always told me that her mother, Anna Lena, left Sweden because she didn’t like taking care of the cows.  The first time I visited relatives there in 1981, I told this story and they told me about the fäbods. Perhaps it was life at the fäbod that Anna Lena didn’t like.


    The fäbod system died out decades ago, but some of the old buildings still exist in some areas.


    This summer we were lucky enough to visit one near the village of Äppelbo.


    Our host, John, told us that many of the old buildings were taken down in the 1930′s and the logs were sent to Stockholm to be used as firewood!



    We fed the calves hard bread!  Who knew calves liked hard bread!?!



    We also took turns blowing the horn to call the cows.



    No cows came, but we all got some sound out of the horn!



    It was a wonderful day.

  • 28Aug

    When I was in Sweden this summer, Sven-Eric allowed us to go into his attic and look through four trunks of very old clothing.  It was like finding hidden treasure!  Among the wonderful finds there were two old leather aprons.


    Every farmer, blacksmith and craftsman probably had an apron like this.


    Even though they were stiff as boards, Torsten tried them on.


    One had a lovely, hand woven neck band.


    Sven-Eric generously gave one to Torsten, who has worked some conditioner into it and made it soft and supple again!


    Torsten has formal Nåsdräkten, but also the everyday clothes, which he has on here.


    Don’t you love the birch bark knapsack?


    It’s great to see new life given to old things.