Tuesday, February 28, 2012


                 Part One: STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN

Growing up, I was fascinated with Sweden's Royal Family. I felt like King Carl-Gustav III and his gorgeous wife Silvia were my personal King and Queen. I watched their children Victoria, Carl-Philip, and Madeleine grow up in the protective royal circles, hoping that their lives would turn out wonderfully in the midst of the pressures that come with being born into royalty.

                                                       Queen Silvia postage stamp

The Royal Palace is one of the largest palaces in Europe. The family home is outside of the city in Drottningholm. Official receptions are held in the Palace Apartments, which are open to the public when they're not in use for official business.
The Royal Guard watches over the Palace and has been doing it since 1523! The palace as we know it was completed in 1754, with some of the oldest remaining interiors dating from the 1690s.
(I'm on a photo organizing spree and hope to find my pictures of the Royal Palace and the guards! If i do, I'll share them with you. )

   My favorite part of Stockholm is Gamla Stan (Old Town) 

                          these buildings along the narrow streets kind of remind me of Italy

                                                                        lots of fun tourist shops

                                                            where you can show your silly side

the church looming in the background is Riddarholmen church,
  which was completed around 1300 and is the burial place for Swedish royalty

                                                  I love taking a walking tour in Stockholm

                                                  and I can't wait to go back and take nice pictures
                                                                               (these shots taken with a disposable camera) 


Friday, February 24, 2012

A hodge-podge post of many things...

The time has come,” the walrus said, “To talk of many things: 
of shoes -- and ships-- and sealing wax-- 
of cabbages-- and kings--
                          -Lewis Carroll (from the Walrus and the Carpenter)

First, let's talk of shoes:

February marks the annual Fashion Weeks in Paris and New York,
so, to keep with the times, I got busy designing at my work table
and created these pillow covers. For fun in fashion. :)

Of ships:

My great-aunt Fanny was the first of the family to venture across the seas when
she boarded a ship like this one for a voyage from Finland to America.
The venture took eight days and, though it was a big step up from the
Mayflower conditions, it was no modern-day luxury cruise.

                   This wooden suitcase carried her belongings -the only things familiar to her.  

                                                    The suitcase now graces my living room!

Of sealing wax?
Isn't it terribly romantic to think of the correspondence
sent by messengers on horseback in long-ago times and faraway places!
A confession of love; an invitation to a ball; a letter of intrigue.

The latest application at our house was last spring when our son helped his 
bride-to-be seal their wedding invitations with a careful press of ruby wax. 

Of cabbages?
After I moved away from my childhood home, cabbage only made a rare appearance on my menu.
But I love these cabbage rolls and, with all this talk, I now want to make them!

Of kings?
Tune in on Tuesday, as we explore Sweden!

  How amazing what variety you can stumble into just in the course of a single day! With these thoughts I traveled from my studio to across the seas, to Jane Austen's day, and back home again into my kitchen!

I hope you enjoyed the wacky combination inspired by the walrus as much as I did. : >)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Today is 

In Finland it's celebrated as a sledding day!
Old tradition dictates that you yell “Pitkia Pellavia!”(Long Flax!), as you fly down the hill in your sled. The further you coast, the better the crop will be that year.

I'm glad there are traditional treats for this holiday, as so many others. So I baked some sweet rolls and filled them with whipped cream and jam. Eating fatty food on this day stems from the old tradition of starting a fast and the count-down to Easter.
I like the idea of enjoying winter with the hope of spring around the corner. Don't you?

 I like that i get to eat pea soup...

                                         ... and I'm even adding  
                                            herring to the menu,
                                                                         to celebrate the Polish way!

             What's your tradition on Shrove Tuesday? 
                              Mardi Gras? Carnivale?

Monday, February 13, 2012

                 *global village gifts*

Hello friends!
      One of the things I wanted to do with this blog was to
    occasionally highlight a non-profit organization. With so
    many great people doing good out in the world, it was
    tricky to narrow it down to one to start with. 
    Then Julie Barker happened to be one of the presenters
    at a Women's Conference I attended recently. She talked
    about Fair Trade
      Here is an overview of what Fair Trade is about: 
      Seeking to bring opportunities for a sustainable way of life
   to poor communities around the world, Fair Trade provides
   vital income to Third World people by marketing their
   handicrafts and telling their stories in North America.
   There are 35 countries represented.
   The artisans are paid, whether or not their goods sell right
   away. GLOBAL VILLAGE GIFTS in Logan, Utah is an
   umbrella store of Ten Thousand Villages, a member of the  
   U.S. Fair Trade Federation in Salt Lake City, Utah.
      The artisan women sing their song together:
                                       "We are women working to build our lives.
                                       Together we have overcome many problems.
                                  We will send our children to school with our earnings.
                                              We purchase our food and clothing,
                                        We plant our gardens and cultivate our crops,
                                              We repair our houses and we plant trees.
                                    By working together, we become united in one mind."

    have a look at some of the handmade treasures in
       Global Village Gifts -a Fair Trade Store

phone case from Afghanistan

booties from Guatemala
   "Galimoto" bikes from Kenya



    and   tree of life

                                                                                   made from recycled oil drums in Haiti

pencil box from India


toys and musical instruments

  paper bowls and heart box made from recycled newspaper and magazines 
                                     in Vietnam and the Philippines

Kisii stone statues from Kenya

gourds from Peru

             jewelry, scarves, and purses 
                                                                                        seem to sell the most

 And here is the interview with Julie Barker:

Quick bio:
During Julie’s growing-up years her family lived in Afghanistan, India, Brazil, and the Philippines. Her father worked at the International Rice Research Institute, in Los Banos, Philippines, as an entomologist, helping farmers grow and develop varieties of rice to feed the world. Julie met her husband in the Philippines where his father worked in the same place as hers! She now lives in Cache Valley, Utah with her husband and children.

1. If you close your eyes and go back to one of the places you lived growing up, what do you see?
My first memories were when I was in India and I remember a very normal home and family life, but in a very different culture. I noticed that when I would come back to the United States, I could tell that we were living in a place much different than where I was born. My memories include a fun school -it was a very small school, K-12 and there were less than 60 students in the whole school.
We dealt with issues that we probably wouldn’t have dealt with here; we never could go down to a grocery store and buy the foods that we wanted, we just bought what was available. The main religion in India is Hindu, and most people are vegetarian so we didn’t have all types of foods available. But we always felt very safe in the community and my upbringing was very different from how I’ve raised my children in the United States.

2.What advice would you give to parents, based on your experiences in different countries? 
I’ve always thought it was very important to educate my children knowing about different cultures and to respect them. We do have a lot of people in Cache Valley that have traveled, but our population is not very diverse in my opinion. I’ve always stressed to my kids, if there is someone that’s different from you, learn about them, don’t think about them as being different or someone that might not want to get to know you. They want to get to know you and learn about us. I think it’s important that we learn about their culture and experiences because we can really learn a lot about people and appreciate all the good that is in them and understand different cultures.  

3.What has been your favorite part of living abroad?
 For me it was being able to experience all of the wonderful things around the world. In high school we didn’t have your normal competitions between high schools like we do here. We were able to travel to different countries and then compete at facilities where people would come from all over the world. All the international schools would congregate usually at military bases, and oh my goodness it was a wonderful experience. I was able to go and experience things that have made lasting memories. I still have friendships all over the world and with the Internet I can talk to them easily. I would say the thing that I cherish the most was the education that I got; I was able to attend very good schools and receive a very good education while living overseas.

             4 . What has been a challenge? 
The challenge is not being able to continue to travel as much as I would like. I’ve had very little   opportunity to take my family overseas. I did  take my family back to the Philippines in 2008. They were able to see where my husband and I grew up and they were able to meet my friends, visit my schools and churches and everything that was part of my life in my younger years. I just wish I could travel more. 

5.What gave you the idea of a Fair Trade store?
 I was looking for opportunities where I could support and help people around the world. That’s always been a desire of mine and when I saw that Global Village Gifts was going to get started in Cache Valley, I inquired. I found out that it was something that I could do to help people all over the world while still living here in Cache Valley. It’s been a lot of fun, it’s been a lot of work. I didn’t know much about running a retail store and so I’ve learned a lot of new skills by working in the store. My main desire was to try to help those less fortunate in the world that don’t have all of the basic things that we take for granted each day like food, water and shelter. A lot of these people, because of the help they receive are now living with more dignity in their lives.

Isn't it interesting and wonderful! 
Thanks, Julie!

To learn more about the store, visit www.globalvillagegifts.org

Sunday, February 12, 2012

           The Southeastern Tip of France: 
            NICE and its surroundings

As Ulla and I wheel our luggage across the street from the Nice airport, we spot an oasis of palm trees, grass, and shrubs. We perch on the low stone fence and break out the juice packs and pretzels. For a minute we just bask in the sun.
France, here we come!

The bus runs a convenient route from the airport to the City of Nice. Our 20-minute walk from there to the hotel takes us through town square and a building remodel where the sidewalk turns into a man-made tunnel.
We discover fabulous bakeries (where we're to become loyal customers over the next days) before reaching Hotel Comte de Nice on the quiet Rue Dijon. There is a daily flower market a short walk away at Avenue Malaussena and Place General de Gaulle.

The hotel is, shall we say, quaint. Truth be known, we didn't pay for luxury, so a crisp clean room and a bathroom with a shower satisfies us.

After settling in, we head for the beach, where we've made plans to meet up with the rest of our party: Kim, Ed, and Kaitie will be joining us today, after their stop in Paris. The day is warm and the salt-saturated water soothes our traveling bones. Climbing out of the sea turns out to be a strenuous attempt, though, as the waves insist we stay and the pebbles (smooth as they may be to behold) sting the bottoms of our feet. By pure willpower we scamper out, then stretch on our blankets to soak up the Mediterranean sun.

Our friends' faces pop out of the crowd and it's a joyous reunion. We giggle like children and sunburn our backs searching for sea glass and shells, and buy fruit drinks at the bar that's lapping-distance from the water.

That evening the lot of us feast on pizza (yes, feast!), and Ed downs a heap of clams (not me, thank you very much!). The street-side restaurant with checkered tablecloths and wrought-iron chairs oozes charm, as do the waiters who delight us with their English. Admittedly, I am a tad disappointed they won't have any of my “fluent French”. Ha.
For dessert we devour (yes, devour!) ice cream. Creamy and fruity yumminess.

The hassle of renting a car the next morning gives us a late start for our day, but off we go eventually. I am SO relieved not to be behind the wheel in this traffic! Fortunately, Ed “the Colonel” keeps it together for all of us.

The day soon promises to be idyllic and lovely, as we take in the mountain views that lead to the small village of Plan-de-la-Tour. Lavender fields, dotted with farmhouses, scent the air. Vineyards sprawl down the side of the road into the valley below and, as we ascend, we can catch glimpses of the villas and wine estates of the rich and famous.

The Village on top certainly delivers in idyll and charm: Centuries-old houses full of texture that hug the narrow streets; aged men in their caps at a game of chess; people gathered in the shadow of ancient oaks to play Petanque. We peek in the door of a church adorned with statues and murals and icons in the dimly lit coolness , and imagine hymn-singing filling the rafters in centuries past.


I stop in the tiny post office to mail my postcards, thrilled at the chance to speak my French with a village native.
We wander around the streets and take in the quiet gentleness. Studying the detail of a fountain basin and iron pump, we wish to linger.

But it's time to say goodbye.

And it's time to pile into the car for a drive-through of Cannes. We chuckle to our lowly selves as we gawk at the posh hotels and the limos that spill out fancy folk who walk with “an air”. Remember French Kiss with Meg Ryan and Kevin Kline? Parts of it were filmed right here.

Next we're off to St. Tropez, a celebrity haven just a 90-minute drive from Nice. The magazines show it: celebrities hanging out in the surf, on their yachts, in the cafes and restaurants. (We recognize none, though). St. Tropez offers a relaxed, breezy scene and (minus the tacky tourist shops) it's a pleasant place. We walk out to the end of the pier and lean back on a bench to daydream of life on one of the docked yachts. We're soon joined by paparazzi who elbow each other for the perfect spot. They're looking for somebody!
But our brush with fame is not to be; the mysterious celebrity docks too far out of reach and won't get off the yacht. (Rats). It'll be in the paper the next day (which, incidentally, we forget to check).
Before heading back to Nice we decide to take advantage of the sandy beach of St. Tropez (as most of the Cote d'Azur is pebbly), so we take a refreshing dip in the blue-green.

Back at the hotel we fall into bed with our aching feet. We've skipped dinner, but everyone is too tired to do a thing about it. It's been a full day of loveliness -and a bit of glamor, to boot.

In the morning we take a stroll to the patisserie to enjoy the ritual of the chocolate croissant. Walking to places -the bakery, the beach, the market- provides a chance to savor the moment. Small dogs sit pretty under the sidewalk cafe tables as their human counterparts have croissants and coffee. 

We spend the day walking from cathedral to square to flower market and buying a few souvenirs and a few more postcards. We try to get a peek at a park on top of a cliff (you go up by elevator), but it's closed because an Opera performance is on. Note to self: come back and catch that next time!
With nightfall we make our way to the Night Farmers' Market, which consists of never-ending rows of booths with souvenirs, hand-stitched linen (I buy lavender fingertip towels for family), scarves, jewelry, and flowers. The crepe stand outside a restaurant opposite the market offers a welcome break from the treasure hunt. They have twenty choices for fillings -a challenge, but we manage. We end up sharing bites with each other and each mouthful is scrumptious.
It's a pretty great way to end another pretty full day.

                                                          Provence, je t'aime!

    What would you want to do in Southern France?
           Breathe in the lavender?
                   Browse the farmers' markets?
                           Take a dip in the Mediterranean Sea?



Wednesday, February 1, 2012


All of January I was letting my goals and dreams for 2012
brew in the back of my mind. I looked at a few life goal lists others had put together and found that many of them were similar to mine.

Here are  some goals I was drawn to:
(I'm listing them with permission and checking off ones that I've done. My life has never been mundane!)
  • Learn a new language (check)
  • Learn to play an instrument (check; and now onto another)
  • Cross-country road trip (check)
  • Swim with dolphins (I really want to do this, though the thought makes me nervous!)
  • Visit a planetarium (check)
  • Walk in the rain (check)
  • Kiss in the rain (check; and refresh!)
  • Plant a tree (check; thanks Anna and Mia!)
  • Go to a drive-in movie (check)
  • Skinny dip (check, um I was young)
  • Sleep on sundried sheets (check)
  • Finger paint (check)
  • Fish (check)
  • Over-tip the waiter (check)
  • See a rodeo (check)
  • Get a professional massage (check; and ongoing please!)
  • Go to London (because the airport doesn't count)
  • See the Eiffel Tower (check)
  • Get dessert as an appetizer 
  • Send random postcards (check)
  • See the Grand Canyon (check)
  • Learn to fence
  • Pan for gold (check)
  • Learn to skip rocks (check)
  • Go out on the town in a little black dress
  • Learn to tie three knots (scouting/boating) (check)
  • Kiss on both cheeks (check; again, please!)
  • Camp out at a movie theater (didn't pull an all-nighter but several hours, so check)
  • Learn pottery
  • Enter a contest (check)
  • Live as a minority (check)
  • Put flowers on the grave of a stranger
  • Play Bingo (check)
  • See the Nutcracker ballet (check)
  • Play Spin the Bottle (check)
  • Attend a wedding of someone with different traditions from mine 
  • Own a kooky umbrella

 What amazing things have you done in your life already? 

I saw a movie (New Year's Eve) where a middle-aged lady makes a resolution list and recruits Paul, the bike messenger who delivers to her work place, to help her accomplish it all before the end of the day (because it's New Year's Eve). Paul gets creative.

(Spoiler alert if you haven't seen the movie and want to see it!)

Her list (in no particular order):            Paul's adaptation:
1. Quit my job                                            -she did before she enlisted Paul
2. Breakfast at Tiffany's                           -bagel and coffee in front of Tiffany's
3. Go to Bali                                                -Bali Garden Spa in Brooklyn
4. Trip around the world                          -scooter ride around the globe in NYC
5. Save a life                                               -adopted a puppy
6. New York Taxi ride with no traffic     -water taxi
7. Walk through all five burroughs     -a model of the 5 burroughs at an art museum
8. Be amazed                                  -"flying" supported over city set in the Radio City bldg
9. Learn to dance                                        -Paul takes her to a New Year's party
10. New Year's kiss at midnight               -Paul to the rescue :) 


here's my FUN LIST (I may tweak the means to the end, like Paul did):

1. Start a blog (check!)
2. Design a piece of clothing
3. Save a life
4. Be amazed
5. Learn to dance (preferably from Zac Efron)
6. Paint a picture
7. Go to "Bali"
8. Arrange a piece for Jazz Band
9. Sing a duet with someone famous (or at least cool)
10. Midnight kiss on New Year's Eve
11. Give Paul a chance (that's code)

I'm excited to dive in!
Are you on your way to fulfilling your dreams?

February 2 is Groundhog Day!
Our family watches the movie Groundhog Day every year. Check it out.

Do you have a day or a memory that you would like to repeat?
What would you want to learn if you could hit "pause" and learn to do anything?

*What would you do today 
              if you knew you would not fail?*