Saturday, December 31, 2011


I am a huge fan of traditions.  I like having something to look forward to every year.  It must be the Leo in me that craves structure, organization and direction. It is the driving force behind why I may stay up all night knitting a stocking, or opt to stay in on Saturday night to bake cookies, or spend hours filling up water balloons for 10 minutes of fun.  Remember this?
The nice part about spending the Holidays with little ones is sharing and teaching all the old family holiday traditions and starting some new ones of your own. Last year we decorated a gingerbread house and the kids enjoyed it so much that they wanted to do it again.  We spent about 20 minutes creating the below masterpiece.  In my book anything over 5 minutes of undivided attention is a success.(it helps when there is candy involved).  On Christmas day we all ate the house together.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Giving:Part 2

Nothing's better than seeing your hand knits being worn and loved. Of course in my case the only member of the family to voluntarily put on his hat was my brother in law Ariel.  
I spent all afternoon trying to get a decent picture of all my nieces and nephews in their respective hats, which meant going around exclaiming, "Your head looks cold.  Want to put this hat on?". Most of the time I was ignored or grunted at (only from Matea).  My littlest niece Elodie was a lovely model, but extra squirmy.  In the end, I slipped Meris's hat on while he was playing games on his new DS.  He didn't seem to notice for a while, but I never did get him to smile.  Matea had to be bribed, just a little bit, by Halmi (grandma maternal side) with candy.  I also have pictures of Elodie with her new stocking and I was so glad that I rushed to finish it.
P.S.  I used this pattern for Ariel's "Wurm hat"  I just made a few tweaks to the top, so it would be a more gradual decrease.  One day I will really get on Ravelry and jot my notes down.

Monday, December 26, 2011


I actually made all my Christmas gifts this year and didn't even stress out as much as I have in past years.    From left to right, top to bottom- in a sort of disorganized zig zaggy way.  Table Runner and set of place mats for my sister Jen (from this warp).  Scandinavian bread towel for my cousin Kiyoung who was admiring my mother's set this past November (I promised I would send her a fresh one and I finally buckled down and learned how to cross stitch).  A selection of mice stuffed with homegrown catnip for my cat loving friends and their cats.  Lavender satchels.  I harvested lavender all summer long. A first year Christmas stocking for my brand new niece Elodie (my mom reminded me after she hung up the first 2 stockings that poor little Elodie was without).  Matching entrelac earflap hats for Matea and Elodie ( I made them at least 50% pink so there would be, hopefully, no objections from Matea).  A space dyed striped beanie for Meris( (I finally got to try out that pom pom maker).  Felted wool clogs for Ben and Maggie.  A smallish (if only my loom were wider) rep weave rug for my mama, my most recent warp.  And, a slouchy ottoman roll beanie for my groovy brother in law Ariel!  I also picked up 4 of Beth's amazing 2012 calendars.  Check them out here.  I already have mine hanging up and I especially love August!  Surprise surprise....

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Holidays!

I sent out my first Holiday card ever this year.  I was a little late on actually mailing them out, but I held out for a few weeks hoping to get a genuinely good picture of me and my boys.  Alas, they weren't much into picture taking so.... I just had to pick out of my photo stockpile.  I've had a good year and I hope you have too.  Peace and joy in the New Year. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

In the oven

These last few weeks, I have been almost constantly baking.  Along with the family favorites, I've tried out some new recipes such as the "Candy Stripe Cookie Stick" and "Glitter Balls with Ginger Cream Filling"(both courtesy of Martha, who, by the way, has one of the best collections of cookie recipes for free here),  I finally got to test out my giant Dala cookie cutter from Sweden, which I wrapped in bright tissue and gave as gifts to friends.  It's been fun, but I think my sweet tooth is starting to hurt. 
Even though I am done baking for a while, I couldn't help oogling these gorgeous cookies.
Also check out all this beautiful Dala crafting, the inspiration for my own Dala cookies.
P.S. Happy Winter Solstice and the official beginning of winter, even if it doesn't quite feel like it up here in Minnesota!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas must be coming

I was so happy to see little buds forming on both of my Christmas cactus houseplants.  It makes me happy that they are happy.  And of course it is a clear indicator that Christmas is right around the corner.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Off my needles

I managed to power through the Snapping Turtle Skirt from Norah Gaughan's Knitting Nature.  After 3 years of on and off knitting, I am glad to be finished.   The last time I seriously worked on this was poolside on my trip to Phoenix in May. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Snowy Start

The snowy season is off to a good start.  The virtually empty bikeways are so nice.  Crossing the Stonearch Bridge last Thursday presented not even a single pedestrian.  I rode smoothly, right down the middle (this would never happen in the summer), and enjoyed the peace.  Did I mention that the start of snow also means I'm back to VIP status on bike parking, another perk worth noting when it comes to winter riding.
Snow always seems so intimidating.  Every year I  dread the start of snow, but every year it seems to get easier.  I must be getting used to it...or maybe I'm just getting tougher.  I have to keep reminding myself that this is only the beginning, but so far it has been a lot of fun and I've been riding more than ever.  
From top to bottom left to right: Stone Arch Bridge at night, winter mosaic at 33rd and Bryant, bikes parked along Nicollet, Lake Calhoun at sunset, riding around Lake Calhoun, Minneapolis in the distance, bikes hanging out while I shoot some pics. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011


After over six weeks of not being able to weave, I am excited to start something new.  Can't wait to share!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Part 4 Mexico-At the Wedding

Wedding day approached quickly and was absolutely beautiful.  Late afternoon clouds rolled in and set a dramatic stage.  My niece, Matea, was one of the flower girls and played the part well.  I enjoyed wearing my long silk tie dye beach dress sans shoes.  And everyone enjoyed the chasing beach balls up and down the beach during reception hour.  After dinner, a professional salsa lesson ensued.  I danced the night away and then I drifted to sleep to the sound of crashing waves.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Part 2 Mexico-On the Beach

Tulum, hands down, is home to the best beach I have ever visited.  Beautiful Playa Azul, where we stayed emanates the name so perfectly-"Blue Beach"  When in Tulum, you are on beach time.  Dinner is leisurely, nights are late, mornings are early and there is plenty of time during the day to lounge in a hammock or frolic in the delightfully temperate waters of the Caribbean. 

Friday, December 2, 2011

Crafts for the Holidays

This year; I think, is the first year I am actually on top of my holiday gifting.  Only one more project left.  Anyway, after a spendy Frye boot purchase and one too many episodes of Hoarders I decided to sell my stock of hand wovens at Finch's Holiday Boutique.  Can't wait to check it out this weekend!
Have you finished your Christmas shopping?  In addition to Finch's Holiday Boutique, I will also be checking out the annual holiday preview party tonight at Fired Up for some local clay wares and perusing the goods at No Coast Craft Fair.  Somewhere in there we will hit up the Buffalo Occasional sales too.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Part 1 Mexico-Puerto Morelos

Arriving amidst an endless downpour and flooded roads, aftermath from the previous week's tropical storm, was disappointing.  However, luckily, by the next day the weather was only slightly overcast and seemed to improve each day.  Our first stop was Puerto Morelos; a sleepy fishing village about 20km south of Cancun.  If you are an avid snorkeler or scuba diver it is a great town to call base.  Less touristy, the central plaza overlooks the beach.  Fishing boats still dock along the shore and birds swarm for scraps as the daily catch comes in.  It is here that my mom and I spotted Monarch butterflies, tasted the best queso fresco, and dug into fresh seafood.  
The highlight, however, was an authentic cooking course at  Little Mexican Cooking School.  Together we learned how to make a variety of delicious salsas, homemade tortillas and work with many different types of peppers. What was so wonderful about the class, was not just the cooking, but the history behind traditional Mexican ingredients, culture and drink. the beginning of class was spent sampling a slew of spices, both Pre-columbian and modern.  And every hour or so our gracious host served a typical drink or aperitif to sample, explaining the history behind the process.  I highly recommend this to anyone interested in authentic cooking.  It was a lovely way to pass the day.  

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Back and gone again

The warm weather was welcome.  The wedding unbelievably magical.  And the best part? Shoes were not part of the dress code!!  I'm off to New York and then Chicago but more to come of my sunshine adventures!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Off to Sunshine

It's gonna be a few weeks til I'm back.  I'm off to Mexico for my brother Ben's wedding.  Although I love the winter, I am looking forward to sand between my toes.  I spent a lot of time thinking about my nails, since they will be getting a lot of outdoor action.  Last week I painted every finger a different style.  On Sunday, I finally settled on the leopard print with glitter sparkles for my fingers, (inspired by Ashley) and a hot pink glitter sparkle for my toes.  Can't wait to show them off.  So until the 13th, I will be out of commission, but no complaints here.

Sunday, October 30, 2011


This Halloween was uncharacteristically low key.  Themes and ideas brainstormed over game night transformed into reality within a short 3 hour frenzy of sewing.
to reality.  Can you guess the theme?  Sexy School Supplies!  Between the 4 of us we had a #2 pencil, a ruler and a couple sheets of loose leaf paper.  As our friend Matt said, ".....not quite 8.5"x11"."  

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Off my loom

I have finally finished this warp.  High summer is an unappealing and sweaty time to weave and I quickly learned that a 10 yard warp can easily become a bit of a bore.  It started off as a turned twill project and as usual  I experimented with different color, tie up and treadling.  The last 5 towels I whipped up in a frenzy using natural as the warp and alternating stripes of plain weave and diamond twill blocks.  I was surprisingly pleased with the pattern, but eager to start my next project. I now see why so many weavers own multiple looms. 

Top to Bottom: Tabby stripes with diamond twill stripes, turned twill blocks, diamond twill, large twill checks. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Riding through Autumn

The days are undeniably shorter, but surprisingly warm.  The brief moments after work and before darkness falls have become moments to cherish.  I often take the long road home.  Autumn is the perfect time to enjoy Cedar Lake trail.  The setting sun warms my face, blindingly, and casts a warm glow through the tall grasses, bending in the breeze. The trees are ablaze, fleetingly so, but that is what makes it so special.  Within the week the leaves will fall and we will start preparing for winter together. 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Liquored Up

Remember this?  Well, I have finally strained my Limoncello and Arancello into 8 bottles of deliciousness.  The sticky filtering process took more than 4 evenings to complete. .  Early tastes are strong, but I know things will mellow out with time.  Lately, I have been sipping my strawberry and raspberry vodka with lemonade, the last of what remains of summer.

From left to right: Limoncello, Arancello, Strawberry Vodka and Raspberry Vodka.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Apple Picking and Butter Making

The fall version of Strawberry season, but a lot easier to pick.  On a crisp Sunday afternoon, I found myself with 4 lovely friends and 2 dogs at Minnetonka Orchards.  I am usually not a fan of apples.  Thinking about them makes my teeth tingle and my tongue salivate. I am however, oddly enough,  a fan of apple picking.  Something about being outside, rows of trees laden with fruit, apple cider and cinnamon donuts make me happy. To my surprise, I actually  liked the Honeycrisp apples we picked, devouring 2 immediately.  Between the 5 of us we picked a bushel,  and devised plans for apple butter making at Eliz’s.  Again, many hands made light work as we cored, peeled and boiled.  The boiling  took longer than expected, so we didn’t quite get to the canning part, but Eliz and Emily finished up the batch the next day.  

Meanwhile, these tart, sweet, firm and juicy Honeycrisp apples have been the star of many a meals.  German apple cake, cooked into oatmeal.  Slivered atop a bed of roasted beets and sliced into an open faced sandwich with brie cheese and figs.  The possibilities are endless and scrumptious too.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

At Mill City

I have been missing my Saturday routine.  Now that fall is officially here I am anxious to get to the Mill City farmers market, now,  more than ever  Like the leaves around us, the selection has turned autumnal.  Stalks of Brussel Sprouts, Beets, Romanesco and Pumpkin are just a few of my favorites.

 Each week I am stocking up on my local favorites.  Honey from Ames farm. Wild Rice and  Maple Syrup from Northern Lakes Wild Rice,  garlic from Swede Lake Farms and soaps from Olsen Naturals.  These supplies will get me through winter and keep me looking forward to next year.

Monday, October 17, 2011

On my loom

I am sampling a couple of ideas for my piece for the MN Weavers guild 75th anniversary book.  You can read more about the project here.  
I selected fancy raised stripes as my inspiration.  The original swatch, below, was made to be kitchen towels.  Members are encouraged to modernize the project via different yarns, sett and color.  I decided to experiment with sett, creating soft and open curtains.  So far I am liking the results.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

While I was gone

Remember these?  I was happy to come back to a pile of ripe ones.  I somehow managed to get a better harvest indoors than outdoors, but I am really just happy for a harvest at all.  My sturdy cherry tomato plants outside even surprised me with a last harvest of their own, frost and all.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

In the post

For as long as I can remember I have received and sent postcards abroad and locally.  In the past 7 years, I have made it somewhat of a tradition to write a postcard in poem format.  I love sitting at a cafe trying to decipher what to rhyme with mosque, croissant or vino.  It has become a bit of a game for me.  This past trip to Sweden I came very close to not sending postcards.  Gasp!  Luckily, for all you recipients, I stumbled across the most absolutely adorable stamps I had ever seen and then I was determined.  In hindsight, I am very happy that I did not break with tradition.  Here is what I wrote....

Hej hej from Sweden, 

On the island of Uto through mossy pine forests we hike,
Along pastoral fields to white sandy beaches we bike.
After 2 lovely days and plenty of time to relax,
It's back to civilization and delicious gravlax.
At the conditori we feast on cinnamon buns with tea and milk,
Later it's off to admire 18th century weaving in silk. 
Stockholm city skyline at sunset is especially pretty by ferry,
There's so much to see; we mustn't tarry.
At the Nordic Museum, Scandinavian crafts we see,
Then on to the Vasa ship that capsized at sea.
Luckily the hotel we slept on called the Red Boat,
Was much better engineered to stay afloat!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Stockholm Style

When it comes to style, Swedish designers just get it.  The clean lines, thoughtful materials and neutral palette with an unexpected twist.  Light.  Open. Unassuming. And Inviting.   Take what you might see at a store like Ikea and amplify it a million times. The result is achingly modern and classic, functional yet trendy, homey but cool.   Hands down, Stockholm is a treasure trove of inspiration for interior design and textile advocates.     Each store, clothing and interior, so well curated in this modern Scandinavian aesthetic.  So consistent, yet unique.  Right now, I am loving white ceramics, graphic prints, aged birch, succulents and pops of color. 

Photo Credits: This is just a small sampling of the stores I visited, but there were just too many.  I could have filled pages, books really.

  From top to bottom, left to right.  Room arrangements at Norrgavel.  Pillow from SvensktTenn; print by legendary textile artist Josef Frank and absolutely the most inspirational showroom I have ever visited.  Fabric by TioGruppen.  Ceramic mugs at Konsthantverkarna made by Jonas Lindholm.  Feather Necklace by DesignTorget.  Flower pot decals also at DesignTorget. Cutout baskets from Asplund.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Culinary Adventures

 I don't think I have ever visited a country where I ate so consistently well.  We didn't stumble on a single terrible meal and being food lover's this was a good thing.  Swedish fair is full of fresh fish, hearty servings, and delectable deserts.  What's not to love?
 From top to bottom, left to right.  Apple custard at Conditori Sturekatten. Ginger cake with lingonberries and homemade whip cream at Skansen.  Nordic blackened salmon on a sea of whipped potatoes at Vardshus on Uto.  Lamb and root veggies at Pelikan. Smor means butter in Swedish. What a lovely touch at Pelikan. True Swedish meatballs served with whipped potatoes, lingonberries and sweet pickled cucumbers at Bakfickan.  Seafood soup at Lisa Elmqvist. Fresh filet of sole with a compote of beets at Lisa Elmqvist. Braised leg of lamb at Bistro Sud.  Open faced herring sandwich at Nystrekt Stromming (newly fried herring).  Cardamon and cinnamon spiced buns at Cafe Saturnus.  An afternoon break with pastry sweets and samovar at Sundbergs Konditori.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Murphy's Law

Back in Stockholm and eager to get moving, Melisa and I decided to explore the city via Stockholm City Bikes.  Multiple bike stands are located throughout the city and with a City Bike card pass you can take and return a bike to any stand as many times as you would like throughout the day.  Minneapolis has a similar program called Nice Ride and I have been eager to test out the idea of public bike sharing since our own Nice Rides were installed last year.  There, in Stockholm, I finally had my chance.  Our first morning we had no problem finding the bike stand closest to our hostel.  Check! It was off to the Modern Art Museum.  Before leaving we double check the map for the closest bike stand to our destination.  It wasn't close.  We would have to walk a little. So we did.  Upon arrival at the museum what do we see?  A Stockholm City Bike stand right in front of our destination. No matter, we're here.  After entering the museum, we discover that the exhibit we wanted to see just ended. Darn!  Nothing to see here.  It's off to the Nordic Museum.  It had started to drizzle.  Shall we take the ferry instead?  No.  We can bike, a little drizzle won't hurt.  First let's check the map.  There is only one bike stand on Djurgården. I think I can find it.  15 minutes later, we arrive.  Shoot, the rack is full.  What do we do with our bikes?  Ok, where is the closest bike stand.  It is right across the bridge.  The rain has gotten stronger. Across the bridge we go.  Where is this bike stand?  It has to be here.  Keep riding.  Turn around.  Turn back around.  Ok, it's not here.  I'm soaked.  There has to be another one.  Ride up this street.  I know! There is one here.  There it is.  2 spots left. Phew!  Now what?  It is still raining.  Let's go to a cafe.  Ohh look, across the square, Piccolo, that must be a cafe.  Let's have some tea, dry off, no?  Ok.  Piccolo is a dry cleaner!  Who names a dry cleaner Piccolo?  Darn!  How about we huddle under this awning until the rain lets up?  Ok.  I'm soaked.  Me too.  Let's just walk to the damn museum.  I want to see some damn Nordic crafts.  Ok.   Later, after the museum with lifted spirits...  I am so glad to be dry.  I'm famished.  Me too.  Let's go to Soldermalm for dinner.  Ok.  Shall we bike?  Yeah, let's bike, that bike stand was full this morning.  Let's go.  Upon arrival, there are no bikes left. Really??  Murphy's law states "Anything that can go wrong will go wrong"

Luckily, this law only applied to our first miserable morning.  The next 2 days were perfect via bike.  Once we got the hang of it, Stockholm proved to be a very friendly city to bike.

Walk with caution.  Bikers approach from all angles.
 Isn't this nice? A special bike path off the road and only for bikers . I was green with jealousy.
 Check out this street!  I'm loving the giant bicycle symbol smack dab in the middle of the street.  Another pang of jealousy hits.  I distinctly remember wondering why we didn't have something like this in Minneapolis.
It's like Minneapolis was channeling my Swedish wishes.  Check out our new bike boulevard on Bryant Avenue.  This all went down during my week off.  Have you seen it? 

Monday, October 3, 2011


A half hour train ride on the local Pendeltag, followed by a 15 minute bus ride, and a mere 45 minute journey by ferry is just the right amount of time needed to find yourself lovingly nestled on the dreamy island of Utö.  Being post summer, we were the only guests at the only youth hostel.  Although seemingly desolate, it was oddly relaxing and just what I needed to rejuvenate.  The first afternoon we spent wandering the north side of the island, through the forests and along the craggy beaches.   On the second day, I awoke to rain and a mist of clouds shrouding the sky.  Contentedly, I snuggled back into the down comforter and dozed to the patter of raindrops.  Later, once the weather decided to cooperate, we hopped onto a few bikes and cruised the entire length of the island, on the only dirt road. Smaller trails drew us deep into the pine and fern. Grassy, muddy and then sandy.  Taking a break at this lovely white sand cove of a beach, we diverged paths to explore in solitude. Zoning out to the melody of crashing waves, I was mesmerized by the seaweed pulling in and out by the tug of the Baltic.  I was conscious of my breath, breathing deep, filling my lungs with the scent of sea, pine and sweet moss.
My view from the hostel.  Being the only guests, gave us the best room in the house. 
There is something about the light on this island.  It softly creeps into the trees illuminating the spongy moss floor.