• 19Dec
    Categories: Everything! Comments Off on Sally’s Holiday Decorating

    My sister Sally takes Christmas decorating very seriously.

    Of course the planters on her front porch are embellished for the occassion.

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    This large wooden ornament on the front door is a hint of the theme inside.

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    The stairway in the entry is so lovely.  Couldn’t one make a great entrance down that stairway?

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    And the niche is the perfect place for this modern tree.

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    The main tree and packages are in the formal living room.

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    I love how her skinny tree tucks right in next to her fireplace.

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    The decorations this year have a really fun and funky theme.

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    Sally loves polka-dots, and this theme is really ‘her’!

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    Every gift is a work of art.

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    With paper and ribbons perfectly chosen.

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    The mantle has it’s own unique trees.

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    We got some of these Kosta Boda Sasntas on our trip to Sweden last summer.

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    There are even matching toss pillows on the sofas.

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    The coffee table shows off some of her Murano glass trees.

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    The powder room is, of course, decorated.  More Murano trees….

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    ….and a little something in the shower.

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    There are Murano trees on the piano.

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    And elsewhere in the house.

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    The family room mantle has more of the polka dot lights and a snowman.

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    On an end table a modern tree shows off her crystal ornaments.

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    The dining room looked stunning.

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    Aren’t the place settings adorable?

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    Even the windowsills are decorated.

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    Sally has a wonderful collection of Steinbach nutcrackers.

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    Upstairs there are two trees in the bonus room.  The ornaments on this one are all Cole’s.

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    And these are Cole’s “international” ornaments from various trips.

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    You never leave Sally’s house without a favor.

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    I’m lucky enough to have been to two parties there this year–including a lovely luncheon yesterday.

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    Thanks, Sal.

    P.S.  I have more photos to show you tomorrow!

  • 10Dec
    Categories: Everything!, musings Comments Off on Christmas at the bog

    I need a tripod!

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    Every year, Bob puts up lights on the pump house at our farm.  He does a beautiful job, and even made the star himself.

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    Our bog sits on busy Highway 101, so lots of cars go past.

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    And there’s nothing else around except forest, so there is no light competing with the display.

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    About dusk this evening, I went out to take some pictures of it, but my camera took a long time for the shutter to close, so they’re all blurry.  Maybe you can come see it in person.

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  • 26Oct
    Categories: Everything! Comments Off on Halloween Decorated

    Last week I finally got my Halloween decorations put up–well, some of them!

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    Aren’t these just the cutest little trick-or-treaters ever?

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    I love the expressions on their faces.

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    Halloween hats on the armoire.

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    A windowsill of silly fun.

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    I’ve had this cat pillow for years–and still love it!

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    Pumpkin people.

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    Candles on the fireplace.

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    My BOO chair and the most adorable crepe paper nut cups.  Do you remember nut cups?

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    The dining room table all decked out.

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    The centerpiece.

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    Towel rack on the kitchen butcher block (that came from my dad’s store).

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    Noise maker.

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    Candy, anyone?

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    Bring on the little goblins!

  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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!?!


  • 30Mar
    Categories: Everything! Comments Off on Birthday Wishes

    This woman knows how to party!



    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!


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


    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.


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



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


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


    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.  


    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.  


    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!