• 13Apr
    Categories: Everything! Comments: 6

    With beautiful weather predicted for this weekend, the time seemed right to open the Swedish cabin for the season.  The cabin is my little piece of Sweden in the woods behind my house.  A perfect retreat when I can’t be in  Sweden.


    There’s the typical herringbone door…


    …with hardware I brought home from Sweden.


    Everything was in the middle of the room, where we’d stacked it last fall.


    I bought this sweet doorstop at the hemslöjd (handicraft store) in Dala-Järna.


    This horse is a Nås horse, from the village where our house is.


    This wallhanging, made by Berit, commemorates my first visit to Sweden in 1981.


    Lots of mementos from different trips to Sweden.



    This iron candlestick is based on a very, very old design and has lots of religious symbolism.


    There’s no power in the cabin, so I have lots of candle holders!


    The sofa bed sports a special vintage quilt.


    Above it is this stitchery I brought home from a Swedish trip.  The text talks about the childhood cottage.


    This fabulous chair, with it’s original paint, was in the beach house my parents bought in 1963.


    I have wonderful relatives in Sweden.  Gunnar packed and shipped this corner cabinet to me after I bought it in an antique shop in Gagnef!


    These iron candlesticks are sharp and stick right into logs of the cabin.  They were made by a local blacksmith.


    A little rooster candle snuffer.


    Another wonderful wallhanging woven by Berit.


    The stairs to the loft are cut from a single log.


    These were bought from the basket maker in Tällberg.


    This flour box is very special to me.  It was given to me by Skräddar Anna, who, along with my Aunt Evelyn, kept the contact between Sweden and America after Anna Lena’s death.


    The loft is a perfect place to get away from it all.


    This little bench is also from my mom and dad’s house.


    The kubbstols on the porch came from the same log as the stairs.


    There aren’t many flowers blooming right now, but miner’s lettuce made a sweet bouquet.


    Every year I plant two more birch trees.


    I baby them along.  Someday I’ll have a whole birch forest–when I’m about 120!


    After Bob accidentally cut off a birch branch,  I was able to decorate with it!


    Last fall Berit and Gunnar gave us this flag for the cabin.  It’s the symbol of Dalarna.


    Bob put up the wind vane, too.


    It was a great day!

  • 28Apr
    Categories: travels here Comments Off on My Swedish Bird House

    This is the story of how I happened to have a Swedish birdhouse right here in Long Beach, Washington.

    In 2008 Bob and I took a trip to Sweden with my sister’s family–Sally, Ray and Cole.

    The charming town of Lidköping had shops all around the square.

    Of course, we visited them all, including a hardware store!  On the outside there were paint samples on little houses!  They were so charming, we had to take a picture.  Some of the little houses had board-and-batten siding…

    …some were stucco….

    …and some had vertical wood siding.  They even had different styles of window trim!

    Inside, we were even more charmed by the paint swatches—more cottages!

    It made me want to paint something!

    But then we saw the birdhouses!  They were typical Swedish style cottages with amazing detail.  Most houses in Sweden are painted red, like this birdhouse.

    Some are painted a really pretty golden yellow, like this one.  This is the back view, with the trellis.  Have I said “charming” enough yet in this post?  These birdhouses were definitely charming!

    I really, really wanted one, but how on earth would I get it home?  Alas, we had to leave the birdhouses there and all I had to remember them by were these photos.

    Now, fast forward to last weekend.  Bob and I were in the cute (notice I didn’t say “charming,” although it would be appropriate here!) little town of LaConner, Washington.  We went into a shop called Go Outside.  It had an eclectic mix of gardening items, books, stationery and more.

    We wandered through, and were heading for the door when, up on a high shelf, I spotted…..drum roll, please……a Swedish bird house!

    OMG!  Bob reached it down for me and I headed straight for the counter.  Now, I must say, there was a bit of dust on this beauty.  Obviously others hadn’t realized what a gem it was.  It was even marked down!  I asked the proprietor what he could tell me about it.  He said, “Well, it’s from Sweden.”  I didn’t say, “Yeah, I already knew that!”  He told me he had a box for it, disappeared into the back room and returned with the box.  I learned from reading the box that this isn’t just a “nesting box,” it’s also a “bird table in winter.”  I think “bird feeder” might be a better translation, but I’m delighted to have a “nesting box/bird table!”

    At first I didn’t really care about the box, but then when I saw the Swedish and English text on it, I was glad he had it.

    I’m not sure yet where we’re going to put it, but when we got home, I set it on the garden fence for a photo op.

    The attention to detail on this is amazing.  I’m crazy about the typical Swedish doors.  I’m always taking pictures of them when I’m in Sweden.  Like this one.

    And here it is in miniature on the birdhouse!

    It has a chimney and white trimmed windows….

    …and of course the trellis is on the back.

    But I’m afraid I’m going to have to say “charming” again because I think the most charming thing about this birdhouse is that it has its own birdhouse on it!

    Can you tell I’m thrilled with my find?


  • 29Jun
    Categories: Everything!, musings Comments Off on Glad Midsommar

    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.



  • 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!

  • 03Nov

    Out by my Swedish Cabin is a house for the trolls.  I put this house there so the trolls would have a place to live and wouldn’t be tempted to move into the cabin and cause mischief.  This has actually worked quite well.  As you can see, the Troll House even has a tall, pointy roof because, as everyone knows, trolls do not have any manners whatsoever and don’t remove their hats when they go indoors.  This photo was taken when we first put the Troll House in the woods.  We had cut down a dead tree and put the Troll House on the stump.

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    Now, I don’t really think of trolls as being farmers, but I do think our trolls are cultivating mushrooms.  Is there a season for mushrooms?  Perhaps here in the damp coastal climate of the northwest, mushroom season is all year long.  These two photos were taken by my friend Sarah on the path to the cabin when she was here in June.

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    Our Cabin - 90

    In August, when McKenna and Justin were here visiting, I discovered these mushrooms growing on the trolls’ log!

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    Our Cabin - 41

    And this week, a whole section of the path was sprouting with these!  I thought they were two different kinds of mushrooms (see the dark ones at the top and left of the photo), but they’re all the same variety (whatever it may be), they’re just in different stages of maturity.

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    As they grow older, they open up and flatten out.  How cool is that!

    I left my camera on a log while I ran in the house for something.  When I came back, it was in a different place.  I thought my mind was playing tricks on me!  When I uploaded the photos, this one was on there!  I think one of the trolls took it!  The cabin from a troll’s perspective!

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    But as far as the troll/mushroom connection–today was the clincher.  I was out near the cabin, and what did my eyes behold?  The stump under the Troll House has sprouted scores of mushrooms!

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    I may have to sleep in the cabin tonight to see if I can catch a glimpse of the trolls harvesting by the moonlight!

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  • 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!