• 30Jun
    Categories: Everything!, musings Comments Off on Midsummer in Anna Lena Land – Part 5 – Dessert


    Princess Cake


    If you go to the web and google photos of Princess Cakes you’ll find a lot of cakes with dolls sticking out of them.  But if you persevere, you’ll find a few photos of a Swedish Princess Cake, like this one.



    I wanted to try my hand at a Princess Cake, a special holiday cake popular in Sweden.  I’d never worked with marzipan before, but I wanted to give it a try.  I must admit that I almost took my sister up on her offer to buy one at a specialty bakery in Seattle (she offered numerous times!) but I bit the bullet and did it!  

    So, the day before the party, I made my own marzipan and tinted it the traditional green.  Amazing how it matches my bowl and rolling pin!  


    The trick with the marzipan is to drape it over the rounded cake and not have pleats in the side.  One recipe suggested practicing on an inverted bowl, so that’s what I did.  I discovered it wasn’t that hard to smooth the sides–of course there was a bowl under there, not a sponge cake and cream!

    Then I took a little of the marzipan that I had set aside, tinted it red, and made the rose for the top.


    When it was time to do the cake, I was prepared.  The cake is a sponge cake layered with raspberry jam, pastry cream and whipped cream!  It wasn’t perfectly symmetrical, but for a first attempt, I was satisfied!


    I tinted some trimmed away marzipan a deeper green for leaves and added the rose.


    I felt like a proud mama!


    But the cake I always love best when I’m in Sweden is the Strawberry Whipped Cream Cake, so I whipped up one of those, too.


    Here’s my brother, Sid, eyeing the Princess Cake.


    It’s even pretty on the inside!


    Needless to say, none of us left the table hungry!

  • 28Jun
    Categories: Everything!, musings Comments Off on Midsummer in Anna Lena Land – Part 4 – Food!


    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.


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


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


    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!


    Swedish dilled potatoes are the best!  


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


    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.  


    Next time – dessert!

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

  • 26Jun
    Categories: Everything!, musings Comments Off on Midsummer in Anna Lena Land – Part 3 – Decorations


    Swedish Decoration



    Besides the maypole, there were a few other Swedish traditions that I observed for our Midsummer celebration.  The first it to have birch branches decorating the front of your home.  Alas, we have no birch in our woods, but I hit on a great idea.  I went to the local nursery and bought two birch trees!  They got to do the honors for the holiday, and afterwards we planted them near the cabin.  I figure I’ll buy two trees a year, use them for decorations, then plant them in the woods.  In, say, 80 years, we should have a whole birch forest!


    Of course we flew the Swedish flag along with our American flag.  Pennants like this are very popular in Sweden.


    And speaking of flags, the Swedes often decorate with small flags.  This is a souvenir from our trip last summer.


    And check out this adorable candle holder.  These little gals are dressed in their Swedish national costumes.  So cute!


    I got up at the crack of dawn on the morning of the party and went out to pick wild flowers for my bouquets.  There aren’t as many blooming here as there are in Sweden, but it was fun nonetheless.  This is one of six bouquets.


    This candle stick is very special.  It’s a replica of one made in the 1500′s in the province of Dalarna, the prettiest part of Sweden and the area Anna Lena came from.


  • 24Jun
    Categories: brilliant ideas, Everything!, fabric design Comments Off on Sweet Pea Pod Purse

    Perfect for your favorite Sweet Pea!  


    Isn’t this little bag just adorable?  My friend Robin, who stitched up the Sweet Pea Jumper for me, thought any little girl who had such a cute jumper would want a little purse, too, so she just whipped this up!  Amazing, huh?  And she took lots of photos during the process so I could post this tutorial.  If you’d like to make it, here’s how she did it.

    Purse Tutorial

    Fabric Requirements

    2) 8″ squares of Sweet Pea Doll Panel

    8″ x 21″ lining fabric

    2″ x 8″ bottom fabric

    2) 1″ x 24″ strips for drawstrings


    Insert the 2″ x 8″ piece between the 8″ dress panels.  The bottom of each dress should be facing the inserted piece.  Press seams open.



    Place this piece right sides together with the lining, matching one end.  Stitch.  Press seam open.  Now match the other short ends.  Stitch.  Press seam open.  The lining piece is longer than the panel piece.  Find the center of the insert and the lining.  Pin together.  Press outer edges.


    Make a 1/4″ clip at the seam line of the lining where it lines up with the insert.  Repeat on both sides.


    Turn under area from clip to make a narrow hem from clip to seam.  Stitch.


    Pin the side seams.


    Sew up sides of lining and panels, leaving hemmed area unsewn.



    Mark a diagonal line 1″ in from each corner.


    Stitch across market line to form a gusset.


    Turn right sides out through hemmed opening.  Top stitch both sides where the lining meets the panel.


    Make drawstrings by folding long sides of 1″ x 24″ strips toward center.  Press.  Fold in half and topstitch.  

    Insert one drawstring left side, bringing it all the way around.  Knot ends together.  Insert the second drawstring into the right side, bringing it all the way around.  Knot ends together.  Fill with special treasures for your special little friend!



  • 22Jun
    Categories: Everything!, musings Comments Off on Midsummer in Anna Lena Land – Part 2 – The Cabin

    Swedish Cabin

    It’s always nice to have a little piece of Sweden nearby.  For me, it’s this cabin in the woods–a gift from my parents.


    It represents the little stuga in the woods where the young Swedish women would spent their summers.  You see, in the summer the cows were taken into the forest to forage.  That meant that the fields near the farm could grow up and hay could be cut for the long winters.  Each Swedish farm had grazing rights in the surrounding forest, and each farmer built a small cabin like this,  They were usually grouped together for camaraderie and protection.  The girls would have to milk the cows and make cheese and butter all summer long.  Today these little cabins are summer cottages!

    Just like Swedish log cabins, I wanted mine to be built of square logs.


    And I love the doors in Sweden! Our builder Steve built this one for me.


    Sweden at midsummer means wild flowers–lots of wild flowers.



    From my trip to Sweden last year I brought home this candle holder.


    And this door stop.


    There’s a special Swedish style sofa/bed.  I didn’t know how I was going to get one of those home from Sweden.  Amazingly, this was in the Pottery Barn catalog!


    Enjoying a moment with my mom.


    Shhhh.  In an effort to keep the trolls out, we’ve given them their own house!


    The roof is tall and pointy like that so they can stand up inside with their hats on.  Bad manners–wearing a hat in the house, but don’t tell a troll I said so!


  • 20Jun


    The Maypole!



    There’s a little part of me that lives in Sweden all the time.  When I can’t be there in person, though, I try to bring Sweden here to me!  For the first time we celebrated Midsummer in Long Beach.  My family was here to celebrate with me and even though the weather wasn’t the best, we had a wonderful time.  I thought I’d share some of the midsummer traditions with you!

    First, we needed a maypole.  I kept assuring Bob it would be a simple thing–cut a tree, stick a couple of supports in the ground and you’re good to go.  Bob must really love me because he uncomplainingly tackled this task!

    He got to use his chain saw!


    Of course he also had to use a post hole digger.


    Then he cut down a big alder tree and brought me all the branches.  In Sweden it would have been a birch tree, but, alas, no birch here.  I made yards and yards of garland.


    Bob helped me attach it to the pole.


    I used wild Scotch Broom for the wreaths.


    Cole says it passes inspection.


    With Swedish music playing, we raise the maypole!


    Can we do it?


    Almost there!



    Now it’s in place and time to dance around the pole–which we did, but there are no photos because EVERYONE was dancing!


    I love this view of the maypole from the cabin in the woods.


  • 18Jun
    Categories: Everything! Comments Off on Redwork Today

    Today was our Redwork Club meeting, and we started by going to tea at All The Tea and China.  


    Then we came back here to Studio Anna Lena for our “meeting,” which is really just show-and-tell!  It’s always fun to see what others are working on!  Linda has taken my Through My Window panel and embroidered it.  Don’t you love how she’s doing one extra little thing on each block?




    Loretta brought a completed quilt top that she started in 2006.  She wanted our opinion about the dark blue border.  Everyone thought it was too dark, so she bought some of my Cornflower solid to replace it.  It’s a much better match.


    Here are some of my favorite blocks from her quilt.


    Loretta says this is her stitching.  I hope those are pins in her mouth and not chin whiskers!




    We share more than just stitchery.  Robin just finished hand quilting this vintage 1930′s top.  She’s a wonderful hand quilter, and this quilt was a challenge because it didn’t lay flat.  But look at it now!  Amazing.


    And here’s something very special.  Linda bought this hand crocheted apron at a garage sale and brought it for show-and-tell.  Then she gave it to me!  Thank you, Linda.  You know it will have a special home here.  And it’s nice to know that someone years ago liked orange, too!


  • 17Jun
    Categories: brilliant ideas, Everything!, quilting Comments Off on Block Exchange ala Robin

    Aka Guild Fun


    Recently my friend Robin gave a presentation at our Guild about block exchanges.  


    You see, she belongs to a group called The Ruthless Quilters (Ruth moved to Idaho!) and every year they do a block exchange.  Robin picks a block and everybody makes a specific number of blocks.  Then they trade blocks so that everyone has blocks made by everyone else.  Now each person has exactly the same blocks, but how they put them together is up to them.  

    This was my favorite of the exchange quilts that Robin brought for show and tell.  No, I don’t think the color orange influenced me one bit!  Isn’t it amazing what different people did with their blocks?!?








  • 14Jun
    Categories: Everything! Comments Off on Happy Flag Day

    June 14th is Flag Day!

    And we’re invited to a garden party at our neighbor’s house.  I dug deep in my closet and found this dress.  Too cute, huh!?!


  • 09Jun
    Categories: Everything!, fabric design Comments Off on Red and White Delight Winner

    Yesterday was the drawing for the Red and White Delight quilt kit give-away.  


    “blop” was the winner of the Quilt Kit!  I used a random number generator, and her number came up.  Congratulations.  I hope you enjoy the quilt.