• 29Jun
    Categories: Everything!, musings Comments Off on Midsummer 2010

    Of course, if I had my way, I’d have been in Sweden for midsummer.  But, not this year.  So, we had a midsummer celebration here in Long Beach.

    First, the Swedish cabin in our woods needed some attention.

    We’d been using a ladder to get up to the loft, but I wanted stairs that were carved out of one log like I’d seen at farm museums in Sweden.

    Josh Blewett, a local chain saw artist, did these for me.

    It took a lot of “oomph” to lift it up.

    And then it needed some tweaking.

    They had to take it down…….

    ….and put it back up a couple of times.

    In the end, it was a perfect fit.

    I took the inaugural climb, and Josh joined me in the loft.

    Last summer in Sweden I bought a wind vane that’s based on an historic design.  Note: It’s always good to buy heavy items made of metal to put in your suitcase–especially early in your trip.

    John Bahner made a beautiful mounting bracket for it–even duplicating the heart that’s on the vane–and got it done in time for the weekend festivities.

    The setting around the cabin is so beautiful this time of year.

    I love the delicate ground cover called miner’s lettuce.

    It even manages to find its way into the crotch of the trees.

    The log by the troll house had a nice crop of mushrooms.

    I think the trolls may be cultivating them.

    On the morning of the midsummer celebration, Bob had the maypole in place and ready to go.

    I spent the morning making garland.  I wish I had birch leaves, but alder had to do.  Bob and my cousin Susan help me bring everything to the maypole.

    Cole supervises as I wrap.

    The onlookers–my mom, my brother, my uncle, my dad, my uncle and my cousin.  Quite the family affair!

    The decorated maypole.

    The three guys get ready to lift.

    Can they do it?


    ….and higher……

    Yeah!  It’s finally in place.

    Locked in.

    By afternoon, we had sunshine and blue skies–perfect for picture taking.

    Midsummer means lots of flowers for decorations.  These are on the cabin.

    I especially love the wild fox gloves.

    This is probably my favorite bouquet.  These flowers grow wild behind my studio.

    A little something for the living room.

    It’s traditional to decorate the entrance to your home with birch trees.  Since none grow around here, I bought two at the nursery.  Now I’ll plant them by the cabin.  I figure if I do this every year, I should have a whole birch forest in about 80 years!

    My collection of Swedish horses came out for the occasion.

    Dinner’s nearly ready and Sally is pouring water.  We had the traditional meal–meatballs, dilled new potatoes, pickled herring, rye bread, lingonberry sauce and cucumber salad.

    And two desserts–strawberry whipped cream roll and princess cake.

    Later in the day we relaxed in the cabin.

    The weather was perfect for being out.

    Before the day was done, we had to have our picture take in the lupine.

    The lupine in Sweden grows wildly and abundantly.  I’m trying to get the lupine established in this area of our yard, but I have a long way to go.

    So you can see what I mean, here’s a picture taken two years ago in Sweden.  Can Cole really have grown so much in just two years!?!

    Glad midsommar!

  • 24Jun
    Categories: brilliant ideas, Everything! Comments Off on What’s Trump?

    I don’t play bridge.

    I don’t play whist or pinochle.

    But I do collect card table cloths.

    But only if somewhere on them, there is a suit of cards.

    Like the mouths on these flappers.

    I don’t know why I collect these table cloths.

    I don’t even know what got me started.

    But awhile back I mentioned them to Betsy at the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum, and that led to a lovely exhibit of them.

    It’s so cool to see them all out at one time.

    I love the vignettes that have been set up.

    The museum is host to a bridge club.

    They’ve been meeting there for 25 years!

    Many of those ladies loaned tally pads, pencils, cards, etc.

    I covet these cards with polka-dot dressed girls.  The green lady pencil holder is mine.

    There is so much neat stuff to see.

    I think there are three display cases full.  The potato chip bowl in this one is a part of a set of three bowls that my mom used when she entertained in the fifties.  I rescued them from a garage sale she was having a few years ago!

    I recently purchased three black cloths–with orange ties!

    This one has a swastika, so you know it dates before World War II.  Prior to Hitler adopting it, the swastika was a traditional sign of good luck, like the horse shoe or four leaf clover.

    This round cloth is rather unusual, and do you like the built in ashtrays on the card table?!?

    The variety of designs amazes me.

    Somebody had to design and market all of these.

    One of my favorites is this one that says “New Deal.”  It’s a play on words–new deal, as in deal the cards, and New Deal, as in President Roosevelt’s Depression Era program for prosperity.  It even has Scottie dogs on it–a nod to the President’s dog, Fala.

    I love the card shaped people.

    There are quite a few with Asian motifs, like the middle one below.

    Here’s another beautiful flapper.

    And check out Minine Mouse!  This is a very early version of Minnie, when she still looked a lot like a rodent!

    I like this one, but don’t tell my dad.  He’ll think there should be a donkey one getting equal time!

    And kite flyers!  How perfect.

    This is more persimmon than orange, but I couldn’t resist it!

    I hope you get a chance to stop by and see the show.

  • 19Jun
    Categories: brilliant ideas, Everything!, quilting Comments Off on Bonus Nine-Patches

    Do you want to make a pile of nine-patch blocks with almost no effort?  Then do it using your squares as “leaders and enders!”  That’s how Jacque made all the nine-patches for this quilt.  Here’s what she wrote me in an email:  I made the 130 9-patches in no time at all while working on other projects.

    Okay, so how did she do it?  She used her squares as “leaders and enders.”  A lot of us, when piecing quilts, use a “leader”–a little piece of fabric that we run under our needle before we start.  Like this…

    That way, when we start piecing our block, we don’t worry about long threads that need to be trimmed or losing the corner of the block in the throat plate of our machine.

    You might do one block or string piece a whole bunch of blocks, and when you come to the end, you use another little strip of fabric as your “ender.”

    Perfect for string piecing, but it doesn’t get you any Bonus Nine-Patches.  SO, instead of using scraps for your “leaders and enders,”  have a pile of squares next to your machine.

    When you’re working on other projects, and you need a “leader” or “ender,” pick up two squares and use them instead of a scrap.

    Do your regular piecing as usual.

    And end with two more squares–your “ender.”

    Before you know it, you’ll have a pile of components ready for your Nine-Patches!

    I once made all the blocks for a Jewel Box quilt using this method.

    Jacque got her inspiration from the book Adventures with Leaders and Enders by Bonnie Hunter.

  • 17Jun
    Categories: Everything!, musings, travels here Comments Off on Iowa #6 – Tractors

    It wouldn’t be Iowa if it didn’t include visits (and photos) of tractors…….and a few other things, like the cool old truck and gas pump in this yard.

    We stumbled into the museum in Charles City, home of Oliver tractors.

    How lucky!?!

    They do have kind of cool front ends.

    I don’t know about the red rimmed tires, though.

    Or, I guess you could have a yellow Oliver.

    Here’s our new friend Leo (and Bob), showing us some of his John Deere collection.

    This is a cool old Farmall.

    Another Farmall, outside a restaurant called The Iowa Machine Shed.

    Now you’re talking Bob’s language again–John Deere.  Think of the hay rides we could give if we had that trailer!

    This old fire truck reminds me of my earlier life.

    More green and yellow.  Do you know there are even paint colors called “John Deere Green” and “John Deere Yellow?”

  • 13Jun
    Categories: Everything!, quilting, travels here Comments Off on Iowa #5 – Vesterheim Quilt Show

    I was so lucky that one of the temporary exhibits at the Vesterheim Museum was  a quilt show!  These were quilts made by area Norwegian/Americans.

    I love signature quilts, and they had a lot of them!

    This was a fundraising quilt made by the Big Canoe Lutheran Church women.

    Members of the congregation paid five or ten cents to have their name included in the quilt, then it was raffled off.

    This quilt was made in the early 1930′s in Decorah.

    It was a fundraiser for the hospital auxiliary there.

    I love the green-on-white and white-on-green combination and the circle quilting at the corners of the blocks.

    This quilt was made by the Highland Lutheran Church Ladies Aid Society.

    It was purchased by Pastor Holie, who served the church from 1897 to 1915 .

    It was used for years on his daughter, Olga’s, bed.

    When Olga passed away, her daughter had it draped on her coffin to represent the community in which she was raised.

    This Wagon Wheel signature quilt was made by the Baldwin Lutheran Church’s Ladies Aid Society.

    It was a gift to the pastor.

    This quilt was quilted by twelve year old Ellen Knudson in 1865.  It had been pieced by her mother and grandmother.

    This Ocean Waves quilt was made by Nellie Long in 1878.

    Ingeborg Hanson made this quilt in 1870 for a Ladies Aid raffle.  Her sister-in-law, Anna, held the winning ticket.  The funds were used to help build the Cedar Valley Lutheran Church.  Many congregations had Ladies Aid Societies before they had church buildings.  Through quilts and other efforts, women made significant contributions to church budgets.  The stems and leaves on this quilt would have been green when it was made, but green was a fugitive dye and has faded to a light tan.

    Mathea Norde started this quilt while she waited for John Wrolstad to return from the Civil War.  John served with the 15th Wisconsin Volunteer Regiment, also known as the Scandinavian Regiment.  After the war, he and Mathea married and had twelve children.

    I was surprised by the large amount of yellow used in this quilt.

    This log cabin quilt was made by Mary Haugen in the late nineteenth century.

    It won first place in the Minnesota State Fair.

    Clara Rikansrud made this quilt in 1922.

    It was a graduation present for her son, Aurthur.

    This quilt honors the twenty pioneer women members of the Highland Lutheran Church.

    Margurite Paulsrud and Olaf Rossing married on June 20, 1929.  One week later, Olaf was ordained as a Lutheran minister and the couple moved to Bagley, Minnesota, to serve their first parish.  Before they left, Marguirte’s mother and aunt presented her with this crazy quilt dressing gown.  They thought she needed something  warm for Minnesota and something nice as a pastor’s wife.  In 1937 they presented her with the matching lap robe.

    This crazy quilt dressing gown was made by Helena Rossing around 1900.  It is embroidered with Bible verses in both English and Norwegian.

    This quilt, whose blocks represent the Norwegian flag, might have been made in 1914 when Norway gained its independence.

    A modern Norwegian flag quilt being raffled to benefit the museum.

    The next three modern quilts were made to represent Rosemaling, the Norwegian decorative painting style usually seen on wooden items.

  • 12Jun
    Categories: Everything! Comments Off on Iowa #4 – Norwegian Decorative Arts

    I loved the Vesterheim Museum in Decorah.  It celebrates the Norwegian/American heritage of the area.  Imagine packing up everything you own in one of these trunks and heading off for parts unknown.

    I just adore the decorative painting on the trunks.

    Even functional joinery like this takes on an artistic flair.

    I’m always amazed that no matter how stark people’s surroundings may have been, they still took the effort to make things beautiful.

    A bed with graceful curlicues doesn’t sleep any better than a plain bed.

    Even a stool made from a stump gets decorated.

    And a functional corner cabinet just becomes another place to showcase beauty.

    I think our desire to beautify our surroundings is what separates humans from animals.

    I love these butter molds, so intricately carved.

    Handles that look like horses.

    More horse handles, these on mangle boards.  They were often made by a young man as a betrothal gift.

    These bowls are both beautifully carved as well as painted.


    Judging by the date, I think someone must have lovingly carried this from “the old country.”

    But it’s not just the wooden items that were made to add beauty.

    I’ve seen women making bobbin lace, and it’s amazing how fast they toss those bobbins.

    Did you know that fringe on your towels was a sign of wealth?  It showed that you could afford to use valuable linen just for decoration!

    This cradle loom is used to make the decorative bands seen above.

    And do you recognize these sewing items?  They are knitting needle holders, a sewing kit and a yarn holder.

    And something from a little more modern age–this refrigerator door was painted in 1939.

  • 11Jun
    Categories: Everything!, musings, quilting Comments Off on Iowa #3 – Genealogy Quilt

    Lucky for me, one of the temporary exhibits at the Vesterheim Museum in Decorah was on area quilts.

    The squares on this quilt are simple, but the embroidery was beautiful.

    At the top it says, “My Uncles, Aunts and Cousins/Made By Lena Wernson/Quandahl, Iowa.”

    I wonder if she made all the blocks.  The writing on them differs, so she may have asked her relatives to each embroider a block.

    Of she may have had them write on a block and she did the embroidery.

    I guess we’ll never know for sure.

    At least she signed and dated it!

  • 10Jun
    Categories: Everything!, musings, travels here Comments Off on Iowa #2 – Antique Shopping

    There were lots of antique shops in Iowa.

    Besides the vintage quilts, I’m always drawn to the kitchen ware.

    Every time I turned a corner I was ready to re-do my kitchen in a new color!

    Oh, the possibilities…..

    Even some nice orange accents.

    I couldn’t believe the number of pitchers and glass sets.

    They were everywhere.

    There’s one fewer in Iowa now.  The dots just had to come home with me!

    Dang, I should have bought the Art Deco one, too.

  • 09Jun
    Categories: brilliant ideas, Everything! Comments Off on Disappearing Nine-Patch

    Does this look like a Nine-Patch???

    Or this?

    How about this??

    All these layouts were done with these six blocks.

    After I cut them in half!

    Your center blocks don’t have to be solid, or even all the same color.  I just did that to make the illustrations clearer.

    I hope you’re having fun with the Summer Nine-Patch Project.

    Sign up for my email newsletter at annalena.com.

  • 08Jun
    Categories: brilliant ideas, Everything!, travels here Comments Off on Iowa #1 – An Overview

    Bob and I have gotten into the habit of taking a weeks vacation every year after Spring Quilt Market.  For years I’ve wanted to vacation in Iowa, and I finally, finally got to do so.  Not only was I happy to get to Iowa, it appears the people of Iowa were happy to have me!

    We traveled through several Amish communities, including Harmony, Minnesota.

    And, as you might expect, there was lots of corn in Iowa–lots of corn!

    Right now it’s growing 2″ a day.  Imagine!  It was obvious to us in the week that we spent there.

    We found some great antique stores.  I loved the displays.

    Among our favorite things were the museums, like the Hardin County Farm Museum in Eldora.  The signs here indicated this is part of the Silos and Smokestacks National Heritage Area.  It isn’t open except for special occasions, but we met a nice old gentleman there and he asked if we’d like to see inside.  Two hours later, we were wishing him goodbye and sending him home for a late dinner (he had called his wife, though!).

    I’ve known about Vesterheim, the Norwegian/American Museum in Decorah for years, and was finally able to visit–don’t tell my Swedish relatives!

    We happened upon this old mill after closing, but they were expecting a vintage car group, so invited us in for a tour.

    We got a personal tour of a turkey farm.

    Here’s a beautiful view of the Skunk River in Ames…..

    ….and the Mississippi River, which divides Iowa and Wisconsin.

    Of course we got to visit lots of tractor collections.

    And even the National Farm Toy Museum.  Did you know there was such a place?

    We went to quilt exhibits…….

    …….and saw quilt barns…….

    …..and visited quilting friends in their shops.

    We even crossed the Mississippi so we could visit Stockholm—Wisconsin, that is!

    And we saw Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House in the Big Woods.

    Iowa was great.  Stay tuned.  There will be more of our Iowa Adventure to come…..