• 31Jul
    Categories: quilting Comments Off on Pretty Maids All In A Row!

    We have a winner in the Name The Quilt Contest!

    The winning suggestion was Pretty Maids All In A Row.  It was suggested several times, but Linda was the first—so she wins a kit to make her own Pretty Maids quilt.

    I also used a random number generator to pick a second winner.  There were 138 entries.  The number generator chose #86, so a second quilt kit will go to Emilee in England!  Congratulations to both winners and thanks to all of you who left comments.  To order a kit of your own, CLICK HERE!

  • 25Jul
    Categories: travels abroad Comments Off on More from Dalarna

    Dalarna is the province of my ancestors.  Whenever you read about Sweden, Dalarna is referred to as “the heart of Sweden.”  It’s the place where the folk traditions live on, where people still wear their parish costumes at midsummer, where the Dala horses are made, where the quintessential red paint comes from.  To me, Dalarna feels like home.

    The lupine grows in abundance.

    The chimneys are artfully designed.

    Every village has a maypole.

    Each with its own special symbols.


    There’s room for a giant tupp candlestick in the middle of a roundabout!

    It’s where Mora clocks originated.

    The parish costumers are colorful.

    Red buildings abound.

    The forests are abundant.

    The fences are special.

    Charming little lakes are everywhere.

    The sunsets are amazing.

    And the strawberry whipped cream cakes are pretty darned good!

    I’m ready to go back now.



  • 24Jul
    Categories: travels abroad Comments Off on Boda

    Last year, I was delighted to discover a book about traditional Swedish parish clothes called Scandinavian Folklore.  While reading through it, I discovered a series of photographs that were taken in the village a Boda, at their Gammelgård—which literally translated means “old farm.”

    It wasn’t far from Nås, so on Sunday, Bob and I went for a drive to Boda to see the old farm.

    The midsummer decorations were still up, like the birch branches…

    …and, of course, the maypole!

    Did you know every village decorates their maypole differently?

    There was no one around, and they skies were threatening….

    …but we took our time and looked around.

    I even climbed up to an outside balcony.

    As always, I love the old windows…


    …and doors.

    This door had a great old handle with some decorative carving and the date–1755.  Also notice the decorative plate behind the keyhole.

    At one point, the sky opened up and we had to take refuge on a porch.

    Luckily, the shower didn’t last long and we were able to walk around the perimeter of the property…

    …and enjoy the typical Dalarna fences…


    …and wildflowers.

    Good-bye, Boda.  Thanks for letting us visit.

  • 21Jul
    Categories: quilting Comments Off on Name This Quilt – Win A Prize

    You know how it is when a co-worker’s great-nephew’s girlfriend is having a baby, and your co-worker comes to you because she “…knows you just LOVE to make quilts and it wouldn’t be too much trouble, would it, to make something for the little expected bundle of joy???”  So you’re looking for something quick, really quick, but not something that looks like you didn’t care.  That’s why I put together kits to make this super fast but super cute quilt.

    As an experienced quilter, you know it’s just a matter of zipping those strips together.  The end result, though, is a very adorable (if I do say so myself!) quilt made with my Dolly Dear fabric collection.  I’m ready to add the kits to my web catalog, but I need a name for the quilt.  I want something that represents how easy this quilt is, and my pea brain keeps spitting out “Stripping With the Dollies.”  Yeah, I know, there’s just something wrong with that!  After all, they’re already in their underwear!

    So, I’m turning to you for suggestions.  What would you name this quilt?  I’m going to give away two kits–one to the person that comes up with the winning name, and another one to a random commenter.  Here’s your chance to win!  Leave me a comment with your suggestion.  This should be fun!

    Added July 31—Thanks to all who played along.  The contest is now over!  CLICK HERE to see a post about the winners.

  • 20Jul
    Categories: travels abroad Comments Off on Dala Horses

    You can’t visit the province of Dalarna—the heart of Sweden—without some exposure to Dala horses!

    While at Sven-Eric’s I took photos of the Dala horses that he’s had since he was a child. I like the old ones for several reasons.  I love looking at the different styles of decorative painting, for one.

    I don’t mind the worn paint at all.  In fact, it makes me happy to think of the hours someone spent playing with this horse.  I also love his round tummy!

    This little fellow must have had a cart at one time, like the horse in the book Karl’s Wooden Horse.

    There was even a pig!

    It’s not hard to find Dala horses to buy when you’re in Sweden.

    Shops are full of them.

    They’re lined up like little armies!

    Already have a horse or two?  How about a chicken?

    Or a Dala horse on skis?


    Even though I’ve been many times, it’s always fun to go to the factories.  The horses are still hand carved.

    Oh, my, that’s a lot of horses waiting for paint!

    Seeing them like this makes me think of story lines for a Dala horse thriller.  “Let me out!”

    Oh dear.  The carnage!  Oh wait, that’s just paint.

    Ah, this is better.  All dipped and ready for decoration.

    I love how rapt the expressions are on these kids’ faces.

    More horses waiting for a new home.

    We bought a special one for our youngest granddaughter, Peyton.  This color is a limited edition.

    My collection is already, shall we say, “extensive?”  So I just bought a couple of novelty things, like this jigsaw puzzle horse.

    And this paper one, that was a card that I punched out.

    I couldn’t resist these two that I found in an antique shop.

    I hope they’ll be happy joining the “herd” I already have!

  • 19Jul
    Categories: travels abroad Comments Off on Midsummer’s Eve 2012

    I’m never happier than when I’m in Sweden for midsummer!  Midsummer is a holiday in Sweden, and everyone celebrates!  In 1983 my Swedish relatives had a parish dress made for me.  Every parish in Sweden has a different folk costume.  Mine is from the parish of  Nås, Dalarna, the village that Anna Lena came from, and the place we celebrated midsummer this year.

    Nås is on the banks of Västerdalälven, the West Dala River.  The musicians arrive by water.

    The village celebration is held at Storänget, the local park.  The musicians lead the way to the maypole.

    The maypole has been prepared with greenery.  Usually there are flowers, too, but not this year.

    The MCs ask for volunteers to help raise the pole.

    It’s a big job, but there were lots of volunteers.

    Up, up, up it goes!

    Almost there….

    Finally!  It’s in place.

    It will stay up until next year.

    Many of the children had made crowns from wildflowers.

    Did you know that if you pick seven different wildflowers on midsummer eve, and put them under your pillow, you will dream about your true love?

    It’s so nice to see youngsters dressed in the local style.

    I don’t think these are the traditional shoes!

    I’m not sure what parish this costume is from.

    How adorable!

    There is a competition among the neighborhoods which includes sack races, water bucket races…

    …races on stilts….

    …and wooden skis.

    Many of my relatives were there.  This is Torsten, on the left, and Sven-Eric.

    Torsten’s daughter, Emmi, and Sven-Eric’s wife, Anna.

    Bob and me with Ulrica and Carl.

    And with Berit and Gunnar.

    This is Ida.

    From the park, we went to Sven-Eric and Anna’s for an alfresco meal.

    This table is made from one plank!

    Sticking with tradition, the barn was decorated with birch.

    There was plenty of wonderful food.

    And wildflowers, of course!

    Meatballs, potatoes and Vesterbotten pie.

    Gunnar won this giant box of candy!

    Which he shared with the rest of us.

    It was an absolutely magical day!


  • 18Jul
    Categories: travels abroad Comments Off on Fårö

    Our first night on Gotland, we had a great waiter (and great dinner) at Bolaget.  I asked him, if he had one day to spend on the island, what would he do.  He suggested we go to Fårö at the northern end of the island.  It’s separated from the main island by Fårö Sound.  A quick ferry boat ride got us across the sound.

    The fabulous thing about being on an island is that your surrounded by water and beautiful vistas, like this lighthouse.

    Gotland is famous for it’s own breed of sheep–the Gotland sheep.  It has a long, curly coat.  I think this one recently had a haircut, except for his neck!

    There are black ones, too.  He has his coat on, but his neck has been shaved.  Go figure!

    These thatched roof barns were everywhere on Fårö.

    I was intrigued by the symbols on the top.

    I was told that it indicated the thatching job was finished, and everyone should come for a big meal!

    That thatch lasts about 50 years!

    As you can see, there were stone fences everywhere!

    Dry stacking amazes me!

    I thought this fence was both functional and artistic.

    I love the way the flat stones separate the round ones!

    There were several windmills here, too.

    By now, you probably all know my love for tiny buildings.

    These are fishermen’s cottages.

    Their boats were tied up out front.

    One of the most amazing features of the island were the limestone “sculptures.”

    The one in the back is mentioned in all the guidebooks.

    It’s called the “coffee pot.”

    But it really looks like a dog to me!

    Here’s a handsome fella!

    Oh, look!  I really was there!

  • 17Jul
    Categories: Everything!, travels abroad Comments Off on Gotland

    From Sweden’s second largest island, Öland, we went to Sweden’s largest island, Gotland!

    That meant a three and a half hour ferry boat ride.

    The main city in Gotland in Visby, an ancient walled city.

    Once we figured out how to get into the city, we were fine.  However, we didn’t know that cars weren’t allowed inside the city!

    It’s not that fun dragging bags over cobblestones, but it CAN be done!  And once we found our room, it was nice to be able to walk the cobbled streets without worrying about traffic.

    Some of the streets were rather steep, but the views were amazing.

    Buildings were a combination of wooden structures…

    …and those that had been stuccoed.

    But one of the most amazing features of the city was the ruins of St. Karin’s Church, which towered over everything else.

    Gotland is famous for its sheep.  If you don’t want cars on your street, you could just put up a concrete barrier, but a stone sheep is so much cuter!  These were everywhere!

    After a late dinner on our first night, we were walking back to our hotel just as the sun was setting.  I’m just a point-and-shoot photographer, so I was delighted to get this photo!

    Our second day on Gotland found us outside the city walls, exploring the countryside.  We stopped at the church in Bro.  There was a great sign that gave the following information, “The first church was built on this site in about 1200.  Only the tower remains of this structure together with a large number of building stones, incorporated into the present nave.

    “The high Gothic doorway of the nave has interesting figure sculptures.

    “Several 5th century picture stones are incorporated in the south wall.


    “In the interior there are medieval and 18th century mural paintings.


    “The Romanesque font is from about 1200.”

    I thought the door and lock were pretty cool, too.

    We stopped at a pretty little lake.

    There was a cottage there about the same size as the Swedish cottage in our woods.  I’ve been telling Bob I’d love to have a sunporch on our house.  He isn’t convinced we need one (who said anything about “need?”).  Perhaps we should put a sunporch on the cottage instead!

    This cottage even had a deck!

    There were wildflower everywhere!

    The color of these poppies was so intense!

    And these pink flowers were like a groundcover.

    Imagine my excitement when we discovered Bunge, open air museum!

    It was on the north end of the island.

    It showcased farmsteads from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries.

    There was a variety of architectural styles…

    …including some half-timbered houses.

    Here’s a charming little building.

    And another.

    I loved this window detail.

    This is a barn with a shaggy thatched roof.

    A typical fence from the area.

    I’m always fascinated to see how people eeked out a living.

    Here’s a mill.

    People were so clever–using a hollow log for a bee hive…

    …or a birdhouse!

    There were several kinds of windmills.

    An early “A” frame!

    This one had really thick walls and was 16 sided!

    Bob liked looking at the mechanics of things!

    I watched a great demo on how flax was processed into linen.

    Extremely interesting were some Stora Hammars Stones from the Viking Age!  They depict battles, sacrifices, etc.

    It was a great outing!


  • 16Jul
    Categories: Everything!, travels abroad Comments Off on Öland

    We left Malmo and traveled north along Sweden’s east coast.  The views were beautiful.

    There were lots of orchards and fields of grain.  Along the edges of many of the fields there were wild poppies blooming.  What a joy to see!

    Our destination was Öland, the second largest island in Sweden.  It’s 85 miles long and 9 miles wide.

    Öland is famous for its windmills, mostly built in the same style.

    There used to be over 2000 of them!

    Now there are only 333.

    The remaining windmills are protected and preserved.

    This one, considered a “Dutch” windmill, is for sale!  There are only 3 Dutch windmills on the island.

    The most notable thing after the windmills is the stone fences.

    They are everywhere.  I love looking at them, but I think of all the work that went into clearing fields of stones and I’m overwhelmed!

    We stayed in the seaside village of Borgholm.  The architecture there was very special.

    There has been a bathhouse on this site since the early 1800′s–although it’s had to be rebuilt a few times after damaging storms.

    I loved this flag display at the Strand Hotel.

    Nearby is the ruins of Borgholm Castle.

    The first castle was built on this site in the 1100′s.

    Through the centuries it was damaged in wars and rebuilt several times.

    It was finally abandoned in 1709.  That’s more than 300 years ago!

    It’s hard to believe there’s anything left!  I guess those castle builders knew their stuff!

    After leaving the castle, it was time for “ficka”–a Swedish coffee break!  Luckily, there are wonderful little Kaffestugan everywhere.

    Isn’t the blue and white china charming?

    In this one, all the tables were decorated with wild flowers.

    They were so cheerful.


    I love open air museums, and Öland has a great one called Himmelsberga, which is an eighteenth and nineteenth century farming village.

    The details always fascinate me.

    I wonder how old this gate post is, and who took the time to do some decorative carving on it?

    The corners of this little building are made from tree trunks.

    In this part of Sweden, it’s common to see thatched roofs.

    Of course they made good use of all those stones!

    Another stone fence. Notice the mill wheels propped up along it.

    Here’s a stone water trough.

    What else would you make your picnic table from!?!

    I love how no one mows down the daisies.

    This house had a sweet little fenced garden….

    …with a thatched roof bee hive!

    Now you know how pole beans got their name!

    The interiors were as interesting as the exteriors.

    I’m in love with these stoves called kakelugn.

    At one time they were very prevalent in Sweden.

    They are amazingly efficient—a small fire is built in the fire box then the smoke is routed like a serpentine, helping heat the tiles.  The tiles then radiate heat into the room.

    Sweden has great painted furniture.  Notice the painted wainscoting, too.

    A painted clock from the seventeenth century.

    A fancier clock from the eighteenth century.

    Here’s a fabulous painted door.  The walls are stenciled.

    Stenciling was very popular.

    Someone added a hand painted decorative border to this wall.

    Here’s a more elaborate stenciled design.  Before wall paper was readily available, stenciling was the way to go!

    I guess it was too much trouble to do partial designs, so this stenciling quits before the corner!

    Spatter painting was also popular.

    This was probably a bride’s chest.

    Wouldn’t you love to know what treasures were packed inside when a young woman got married?




  • 14Jul
    Categories: travels abroad Comments Off on Malmö

    Bob and I just returned from two wonderful weeks in Sweden and two in Scotland.  Sweden is my favorite place in the whole world, and there’s no such thing as too many trips to Sweden.  This was number 14 for me!  Scotland was a first for both of us.  Of course I took lots of pictures, so let me begin by sharing my love of Sweden with you!

    We started our trip in the third largest city in Sweden, Malmö.

    The city center was beautiful, with lots of these towers of flowers!

    Thanks to some tips from Maia at SemiSwede we found our way to the park….

    …along the canal….

    …and to some beautiful gardens.

    I loved this windmill…

    …and this sculpture was quite intriguing!

    This building, called the Twisted Torso, is one of the most famous sites in Malmö.

    I don’t usually go into McDonald’s when I’m traveling abroad, but one day we needed a bathroom, so decided to share a Coke and take advantage of McDonald’s facilities.  Now I want to know why we don’t have pastries like this in our McDonald’s!?!

    Of course I love the quaint streets…

    …and the shopping was fabulous!

    My favorites are the design stores.

    There were plenty to choose from.

    Sweden and strawberries are synonymous in the summer!

    I also love the handcrafts, like the Dala horses.

    Ah, the colors of Sweden!

    It was so great to be back!