Enjoying all the holiday treats -- thankful for all the special recipes passed down in the family. Swedish specialties. Norwegian. Bestemor's Julekake is always a favorite. And always disappears quickly... But the best part is the memories the recipes bring -- and they are lasting... What are your favorite food traditions for Christmas?
A blog celebrating painting, design, folk art, Scandinavian-American heritage and everyday living.
Here the wonder of the Christmas season settles in amid the rushing around, the to-do-list that's never quite done. A calmness wraps Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with joy and thankfulness. For all the memories and family and friends of Christmases past, for the blessings of our family and friends of Christmas present, and for all the hopes and dreams of Christmases to come... for family and friends near and far -- ours and yours, with wishes for all of peace and good will...
Feeling the warmth and joy of the Christmas season. The baking's begun... December 13 is the official Santa Lucia day celebrated throughout Scandinavia. Usually a family's eldest daughter will portray Lucia, dressed in a white gown with a red sash, wearing a crown of candles and bearing a tray of coffee and lussekatter (saffron buns) for the family's breakfast. Just seeing the candles in the lingonberry wreath (the evergreen branches and leaves symbolizing new life in winter), makes me recall all the darkened halls, the bright, flickering candles and the choruses of sweet voices I've heard through the years at various pageants, singing of the light with which Lucia overcomes the darkness. The tradition is alive and well across America, with special programs at various museums, Vasa and Sons of Norway lodges and the Swedish Women's Educational Association (SWEA) Christmas Fairs. Time to make more Lucia buns.
I love traditions. The littlest things can bring a smile, a memory... The lilt of a familiar song, the spicy-sweet hint of cardamom from freshly baked cakes or cookies... The Little Viking in Temecula, CA wrapped up a host of traditions for their recent open house. Mette and Greg Gaal's shop was festive with the holiday lights, decorations and gift ideas celebrating a Scandinavian Christmas. They had a wonderful array of traditional Jul goodies and glogg. And as a special treat, they had the Southern California Damekor providing music and song. The women's ensemble has been performing in the Temecula - San Diego area since 2009, specializing in Scandinavian and English choral music. All in all, a perfect blend for welcoming the holidays.
I can't remember a Christmas season that my family didn't visit a Scandinavian shop to find some special gifts. It always added a special sense of linking our families, blending old and new stories, sparking new conversations and traditions,,,
So Cal Damekor performing at The Little Viking in Temecula, CA
Festivities are underway at the White House for the start of the holiday season... First Lady Michelle Obama welcomed military families to a reception and preview of the holiday decorations and ornaments for the Blue Room Christmas tree. Fun to see so many children included, too, getting to make some holiday projects -- and memories -- of their own. A special honor and recognition, with a country's thanks.
I remember my excitement getting an invitation from First Lady Laura Bush in 2004. I was one of several hundred painters from the Society of Decorative Painters whose ornaments were selected for that year's White House Christmas tree.
It was a bittersweet journey getting there 8 years ago. I'd sent off for an ornament to paint when I first saw the notice in the SDP's Decorative Painter magazine's summer issue. I was excited, but my mom was ecstatic that I'd try for it (SDP sent out 500 kits, 350 would be selected for the White House). Not long after I'd received the large rusty-metal jingle bell, my mother was ill, and then she had a stroke. She passed away a week and a half later.
In such a short time, the whole world changed... But her love was reflected in family and friends. We arranged her service and packed up her apartment. I hadn't even thought of the painting. But reaching the deadline for mailing it off, I could see my mom's smile, could feel her encouragement. I painted into the early morning hours. I packed up my ornament and mailed it for overnight delivery... And then I went out to Riverside National Cemetery -- Mom was being buried there that morning. I wanted her to know I'd followed through. A shared dream.
I'm sure my mom was (is!) looking out for us. I received the beautifully calligraphed invitation in November. December 1st my eldest son, then a midshipman at the United States Naval Academy, escorted me to the White House for the afternoon reception. As we walked into the Blue Room to meet and have our picture taken with Mrs. Bush, he spotted my ornament as soon as he saw the Christmas tree.
It's a lifetime memory -- and for me, it carries another link. That autumn marked 100 years since my mother's mother had come to America from Sweden. The White House seemed even more special being there with my son, thinking of my mom, remembering her mother's anniversary. Thankful for shared dreams, one generation to the next.
November 13, 2012
Just back from four days of painting at the California Rosemaling Association's 25th Anniversary convention. Vesterheim Gold Medal rosemalers Lois Mueller and Trudy Peach led classes in Rogaland and the Vest Agder style of Norwegian painting. Great projects and a joy to watch them paint. Many lessons learned and techniques to put into practice... And a great chance to get together with painting friends from all over the country. It's exciting to see so many painters studying the Scandinavian art forms.
November 11, 2012Thank you.
November 5, 2012Simple pleasures, simple treasures. A wonderful find on a trip this summer to visit my husband's aunt and explore the Minnesota towns where his family was raised. Spotted the giant knitting needles as we left the old schoolhouse in Grand Rapids, and had to look inside. The Yarn Gallery was alive with color and textures-- and more kinds of yarn than I'd ever imagined. But it had something more: a special vibrancy -- interaction with the community -- from the yarn-bombed rocking chair to knitters, crocheters, children's parties to craft special projects, fundraising programs to benefit those in need, new events and projects popping up all the time... A welcoming, fun place to visit and engage in conversation. Hadn't knitted since I was 7. Left smiling with new needles and magical yarn. And a quick lesson to get started again. And another link with Minnesota.
October 8, 2012
The house looks a little bare... I delivered my a-bit-bigger-than-a-basketball orange to the Riverside Art Museum. It had been with me since the spring-- waiting patiently through the summer for a design to get worked out and then painted. I decided on a simple carved-look design based on some vintage post cards heralding Riverside's noted orange groves. It's titled "Carved into History."
The $500 sponsorships raised for each of the 100-plus oranges painted by local artists will benefit the art programs at the museum. Our sons took drawing, painting and video classes there and I taught a number of calligraphy classes for adults and children at RAM. And there was a year or so that I hand lettered the menu each week for the Atrium, the Art Alliance's volunteer-run charming patio-dining restaurant. Lots of fun events and programs over the years, from Art Fun in the Sun to Designer Houses and member exhibits to attending special exhibits and lectures. It's nice to be part of something benefiting your community!
October 2, 2012
Inspiration. Savoring the textures and craftsmanship and art of Norway -- in Southern California's wine country. Earlier this year Temecula's Sons of Norway Vinland Lodge had a celebration featuring Nordic foods and craft demonstrations and treasured items from member collections.
September 29, 2012
Colors. Textures. Images. Where does it all start? Where does it all lead? This last year has been a whirlwind of adventure and explorations: new experiences, new creations, new directions...travels across the country and visits to museums and exhibits, seminars and classes...all the while building and launching a new product line that began with Norwegian folk-art inspired rosemaled scarves. No sooner had I gotten my first samples when I ran across a notice for the Nordic Fashion Biennale -- a cooperation between Seattle's Nordic Heritage Museum and Iceland's Nordic House in Reykjevik. Just in time to reserve a space at the first-time-in-America event (September 29, 2011).
It was the perfect beginning... "Looking Back to Find Our Future," the biennale's focus graphically blurred the boundaries, bridging the gaps between the past and present . extending glimpses into the future. Hrafnhildur Arnardottir (aka "Shoplifter"), the guest curator, created an exciting exhibit of fashions and jewelry primarily from Greenland, Iceland and the Faroe Islands, juxtaposing trendy, imaginative and evocative designs with the museum's prized collections: chests, bowls, paintings, furniture and clothing, and the tableaus from "The Dream of America Exhibit."
And two days of discussion and lectures on all aspects of the design industry. So many threads weaving into the narrative -- resources, sustainability, an emphasis on hand crafting, teaching the skills, a return to the "slow arts" movement, a renewed appreciation for things that will last, and an appreciation of folk arts and a decorative environment... A fine christening for my Lingonberries line... Many things to share...