• 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!

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

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    Sy decorated the entry with the Swedish colors.

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

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

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    And she has table linens to match.

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

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    …these charming little candle holders.

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    This is our dear, dear friend Peggy.

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    She sent a bouquet of flowers in the perfect colors!

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

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

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    Mmm. Hard bread!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

  • 29Jun

    Last weekend, we celebrated a Swedish Midsummer here at home.  I would rather have been in Sweden, but this was the next best thing.

    I was up early to get started….

    The front porch was decorated with flowers, birch branches and Dala horses.

    It all starts with the midsummer pole.

    We had fox gloves and rhododendron blossoms adorning it this year.  Melissa and Matt helped!

    And, for the first time, we had a rooster on top!  In Sweden the rooster is another symbol for the renewal.

    Time for the ceremonious raising of the pole.

    As you can see, our small one only requires two (strong) men.

    Cole helped lock it in place.

    The rhodies were a nice addition.

    And speaking of nice, we had a really nice day.  Even my mom, who doesn’t usually enjoy nature, was comfortable sitting outside.

    Dad was here, too.

    And Melissa…

    …and Matt.

    Of course Sally was here, and so was Ray, but he was taking pictures and didn’t end up IN any pictures!

    Cole was here.

    We all danced around the maypole, even my dad!  That left no one to take pictures, but that was okay.  Dancing is always more fun than taking pictures.

    Then we spent a little time in the cabin.

    All seemed quiet around the troll house!

    I have two new chairs on the porch.  They were made by Josh Blewett, who also made the stairs in the cabin.

    I found a good supply of wild daisies to pick for decorating.

    And Melinda shared some flowers from her garden.

    Mom, Melissa and Matt enjoying the sofa.

    Then Melissa and Matt had to check out the loft.

    Here’s one of the weavings my Swedish cousin, Berit, has made for me.

    And the corner cupboard I bought in Sweden in 2008.

    This wonderful embroidery is new-to-me.  It talks about the red cottage with it’s weeping birch tree and remembering your childhood days.

    This candlestick is a copy of one from the 16th century and it has a LOT of symbolism.  Rooster – Watchfulness; Three candles – the Holy Trinity; Two jagged arches – Christ’s Crown of Thorns; Ten holes – the Ten Commandments; Heart – Love; Twelve leaves – the twelve Apostles.  Whew!  You can see another beautiful weaving of Berit’s under it.

    In Sweden the lupine is always blooming profusely during midsummer.  The best we could do were these wild foxgloves at the edge of our woods.

    Inside I pulled out some of my Swedish souvenirs. The three dolls in the middle are dressed in parish costumes.  The blue one is from Transtrand where Melissa’s grandpa’s family came from.  The boy and the girl in the red dress are dressed in Nås clothes.  Nås is the town Anna Lena came from.

    These adorable candle holding girls I bought in Sigtuna, Sweden–the oldest city in Sweden.

    Of course midsummer isn’t just about a maypole, it’s also about FOOD!  My sister, Sally, loves dishes and has, shall we say, several sets.  She brought her blue and yellow ones, which were perfect because they are the colors of the Swedish flag.

    There are two styles of plates.

    And lots of adorable serving pieces.

    Our meal consisted of hard bread.  One of my favorite Swedish finds is this Dala horse server.

    The hard bread is a brand from Dalarna–my “home” province.  My grandma always told me Dalarna was the prettiest part of Sweden!

    We had a variety of cheeses to go on the bread.

    And, of course, pickled herring, served in a special herring boat.

    It wouldn’t be midsummer without meatballs and lingonberries.  I made 150 meatballs for 9 people!

    We had new potatoes with fresh dill.

    Pickled beets.

    And cucumber salad.

    And, of course, we had TWO desserts.  I made a Princess Cake.  It’s my third one.  This year I wanted to do something different, so made a long loaf rather than the traditional round cake.

    And we had to have a Strawberry Torte.

    It was so much fun to be with family and sharing a bit of our Swedish tradition.  Maybe next summer I’ll be in Sweden, wearing my Nås dress and dancing around the may pole.

     

     

  • 28Nov

        As holidays go, Thanksgiving is a favorite in Anna Lena Land.  My parents and my sister’s family all come to celebrate with Bob and me.  We have a routine, or is that called a tradition, after doing it this way for several years–and I like that!  I don’t do a lot of decorating for this holiday, although I should, since I have lots of nice fall decorations.  But I do always manage to get out Rebekah and Eli, my grim faced and stoic Pilgrims.  They probably look like that because they never get anything to eat.

        I love to use special dishes–and I do have a lot of them.  One of my favorites is the special server made for jellied cranberry sauce.  Now, mind you, I don’t really care if I eat jellied cranberry sauce, but I have this cool server, and I like to use it, so we have jellied cranberry sauce!  These servers were made in the Fifties or Sixties by Rogers Silver and they were premium offered by Ocean Spray.  I’m not sure how it worked, but I think you sent in a couple of labels from Ocean Spray cranberry sauce, and probably a buck or two, and you got this pretty server.  There’s a little tray and the prettiest slicer/server with cutouts forming a cranberry and leaf design.  

        My hubby, also known as the Cranman, and I have a small cranberry farm.  I was away at Quilt Market this year during harvest, but my dear sister-friend Monica came over and took wonderful photos.  Her husband Tom even got bogged down with Bob.  Monica did a great Cranberry 101 on her blog.  That girl was really paying attention!  

        If you don’t know how easy it is to make your own cranberry sauce, let me tell you.  If you can boil water, you can make your own cranberry sauce–and you’ll never eat store bought again (sorry Big Brother Ocean Spray, but I’m still drinking your juice!).  Here’s the recipe.  Put these three ingredients in a sauce pan–4 cups cranberries, 2 cups sugar, 1 cup water.  Boil for 15 minutes.  You’re done.  Finished.  Over.  See, I told you you could do it.  While those cranberries are boiling, you’ll hear little pops as the skins burst.  That lets all the natural pectin out, and allows your sauce to set up.  Just refrigerate for a couple of hours and serve.  Oh, soooooo good!  Try it.  Please.  Then start looking for a cool glass turkey dish to serve your cranberry sauce in.  I love mine.  It’s pressed glass and oh-so-pretty.

        My sister Sally is queen of the shoppers.  She loves to shop, and just give her a theme and she’s off.  One year, as a hostess gift, she brought me a perfect butter dish for the Thanksgiving table.

        I love to set a pretty table.  I must admit I have a few sets of dishes to choose from (but not anywhere close to as many as sister Sally).  This year I used my pretty pine cone plates.  They’re a good choice for Thanksgiving-the color’s great and they have the biggest plates!  I used my late mother-in-laws flatware and the vintage Bakelite napkin rings.

        But even more fun than setting the table is the cooking.  Through the years we’ve tried adding a few new things to Thanksgiving dinner, but in the end, we all want the same traditional dishes that we’ve come to consider Thanksgiving staples–turkey, dressing, potatoes, gravy, my mom’s cranberry salad, fruit salad for Bob, Parker House rolls (that come out of the oven just as we sit down to eat), cranberry sauce, olives and pickles, carrots and green beans.  This year the bird was huge–almost 25 pounds, but we like lots of left-overs.

        Of course we have to end with pie–two pumpkin and one apple.  My Grandma Kennedy was famous for her pies.  I remember once, years ago, when my brother brought his future bride home for Thanksgiving.  Grandma had made the pies as usual, and Robin asked her if she had a recipe for her pie crust.  Grandma calmly answered, “Yes.  You take three pounds of Crisco, 16 cups of flour, a handful of salt and enough water.”  That was enough pie crust for nine pies–but Grandma was used to baking a lot of pies at once!  Oh, and I might add that the 16 cups of flour didn’t mean measuring cups.  I remember Grandma just taking a tea cup out of the cupboard and dipping it in the flour bin 16 times.  Now I’m in charge of pie crust.  Thank goodness for the food processor and Martha Stewart for a more manageable recipe.  I made the apple and Mom, Sally and Cole made the two pumpkin pies.  

        Here we all are, almost ready for the first bite!

        Today everyone came back for lunch and turkey sandwiches.  Oh, another chance to set the table and use different dishes!  Actually, these are our everyday dishes, pretty jadeite.  But I did get out my rainbow Bakelite flatware and the Scotty dog napkin rings.  They have wheels.  Wheels on napkin rings!  What a swell invention.  You can have napkin ring races at the table.

        I hope you enjoyed your holiday as much as I enjoyed mine.  And I have to say that this whole blogging thing is totally cool–and not nearly as hard as I thought it would be.  Monica, you were right!  Again!