• 14Feb

    Today I hosted my Mentor Study Group.  How fun to get to do it on Valentine’s Day!

    I love to entertain, but I’ve been gone and didn’t get a very early start on my preparation.  I was expecting 15, so needed to use both tables.  This is the dining room, with some vintage china my mom bought me a few years ago.

    In the living room, we have a drop leaf table that’s only 14″ deep when the leaves are down.  When we need more table space, we move a couple of chairs, pull up the leaves and have a 60″ round table.  Works great!  Another set of vintage china.

    I decided I wanted to make something called a Smörgåstårta–literal translation from the Swedish is sandwich cake.  It’s usually done with a whole loaf of bread, then sliced and served, but I decided to do individual ones.

    I started by cutting rounds of bread–lot’s of rounds of bread, as these are triple decker sandwiches!  Then I spread some softened cream cheese on them.

    That was followed by Swiss cheese.

    More bread and cream cheese, very thinly spread.

    Then there’s turkey.

    Finally, the last piece of bread.  I used a yummy oat bread.

    I made a mousse of shrimp, lemon and cream cheese and spread it on the sides and top.

    Then I wrapped the whole thing with a thinly sliced cucumber and topped it with a cherry tomato and some sliced radishes.

    I may have gotten carried away with slicing radishes, and I think Bob will be eating radishes with every meal for awhile!

    Here are the first eight ready to go into the refrigerator.

    All plated up.

    I served grapes and an asparagus salad with them.

    The ladies dug right in, which I always take as a compliment.  There’s my friend, Karen, helping serve.  Thank you, Karen!

    I had three no shows.  Argh!  But, we just pulled off a couple of table settings and it all worked out.

    We had a great meeting, then a little dessert.  Last night I baked a double batch of Chocolate Decadence in a sheet pan, then this morning I cut out hearts.

    I borrowed these adorable heart shaped dishes and mugs from my sister.

    A little raspberry puree and whipped cream along with the Chocolate Decadence was a perfect finish to a fun day.

    I hope your Valentine’s Day was fun, too.

  • 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.

     

     

  • 07May

    For about 12 years now, I’ve been part of a Redwork group.  From time to time, we branch out from Redwork to other needlework styles.  Recently, we decided to start having themes for out meetings.  A recent theme was Tea Linens.  Everyone brought a pretty tea cup, Linda made scones and I made tea sandwiches. 

    Show and tell is always the best part.  Here’s a vintage card table cloth that I picked up years ago for just a few dollars. 

    And, of course, when you’re being served tea in bed on a tray, you must have a proper tray cover! Notice the little pocket for your napkin.

    This is a pretty design with an interesting stitched edge.

    Here’s a closer view.

    Ethel made this pillow as a store sample for Anna Lena’s a few years back.  It’s a pattern from Darlene Zimmerman.

    One of the ladies brought these pretty dishtowels.

    And look at this pretty quilt.  I think Loretta made it. 

    I love the delicate rose on the corner of this tea tablecloth.

    These stitched tea towels are oldies but goodies.  Don’t you love how the thread color matches the bands on the towels?

    The bias tape scalloped border on this cloth is really interesting.

    The bias tape is checked!  How cool is that?

    A few years back, our project was these blocks from Crabapple Hill Designs.  These are Eleanor’s–still waiting to be put together.

    She’s a Red Rose tea drinker, so personalized her tea bag.  How clever!

    Monica designed this setting for her blocks.  It is so very sweet–just like she is!

    This is so pretty, but I can’t remember whose this is.  Oh, me bad!  Somebody, help!

    Ethel made a tablecloth with her designs.

    And I did a crazy quilt with my blocks.

  • 07Jul

     

    Remember how I said my sister’s two talents are gift wrapping and table setting?  Well, let me show you how she throws a party!  When her craft room was finished, she decided to have a party for it!  Wow, can she find ANY excuse for a party, or what!?!

    She asked all her guests to wear black and white and lime to match the theme.

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    Her table looks lovely.

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    Here’s the centerpiece.

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    Cute black and white dishes.

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    And her homemade cookies.

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    And cupcakes.

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    Fruit for the health conscious.

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    Don’t you love the dotty glasses?

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    And fresh flowers on the kitchen counter.

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    I hope you don’t think she forgot to coordinate the bathroom!

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    Of course she didn’t!

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    And no one leaves a party at Sally’s without taking home a favor.

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    Here’s the hostess with Donna.

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  • 28Jun

     

    Ah, the traditional midsummer meal!

     

    First things first.  It’s time to set the table.  Way back in 1974 I chose a daisy motif china for my wedding dishes.  I must confess I have lots of dishes, and don’t use these much anymore, but I thought they were perfect for the Midsummer celebration.

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    The table looked quite festive decked out in blue and yellow, the Swedish colors.

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    The little Swedish candelabra and wild flowers made a perfect centerpiece.

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    But let’s talk about the food!  Of course it starts with Swedish meatballs, browned in butter and oil.  I figured four pounds of meat for nine people should be enough!

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    Swedish dilled potatoes are the best!  

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    We had pickled salmon and pickled herring.  Luckily we live at the coast and the local fish markets make it fresh here

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    My mom brought a cucumber salad and the meal was rounded out with white and rye bread, butter and two types of cheese, lingonberries and a cream sauce for the meatballs.  

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    Next time – dessert!

    Disclaimer:  I didn’t get photos of my meatballs and potatoes, so I borrowed the images here from Google Images.

  • 30Mar
    Categories: Everything! Comments: 8

    This woman knows how to party!

     

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    Saturday was my mom’s 86th birthday.  But I have to tell you, the partying started weeks ago and hasn’t ended yet!  I think Wednesday will be the last party–and that makes nine!  I figure that’s one for every decade she’s been alive, so it’s the perfect number.

    On Friday my sister and I hosted 19 ladies for a high tea for Mom.  It was lots of fun.  Both Sally and I love to have tea parties.  For this one she was in charge of the invitations, place cards, name tags and menu printing.  Not to mention she’s great help in the kitchen!

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    My friend and neighbor, Melinda, made the centerpieces.  Aren’t they wonderful.  She is incredibly talented!  Thank you, Melinda.

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    We had two tables to accommodate everyone.  One is the dining room table and the other is a great drop leaf table made for us by Wayne Ivy.  It’s five feet round when the leaves are up, but when they’re down, it’s only 14″ wide!  I have some wonderful vintage china and it’s so nice to have an excuse to use it.

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    Here are they ladies.  Look how Ardell managed to get in the photos of both sides of her table!

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    We did the tea in four courses.  The first was the Tomato Basil soup–meant to be sipped from the tiny cup–what fun!

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    That was followed by a Lemon Sorbet Intermezzo (great word, huh?) in a teeny, tiny tea cup.

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    Then we had tea sandwiches, fresh fruit and scones.  The sandwiches were chicken salad with hazelnuts and dried cranberries, cucumber and cream cheese and egg salad.  The scone was heart shaped (a favorite of my mom’s) and had currants and was served with Devon cream and lavender jelly.  

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    We followed that with the dessert plate.  It had a decadent honey nut bar, lemon bars (another mom favorite), profiteroles with chocolate ice cream and a strawberry.  

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    A good time was had by all! Happy Birthday, Mom.  Let’s do it again next year!

    Oh, and speaking of next year–or 12 years, in this case–this is what my brother wrote on the back of Mom’s card!  Too bad he got the date wrong.  Her birthday is the 28th!  But, he’s forgiven, I’m sure.  He’s the only son–and March 30th is his wife’s birthday!

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  • 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!