Thursday, May 31, 2012

SIMPLE SNACKS

SIMPLICITY
Thank you for coming by and for the fantastic name and baby conversations we had yesterday. I really enjoying hearing thoughts from you all: from expectant mothers to Grandmothers with wonderful words of wisdom. I am steadily inspired by this exchange.

It's already snack time in Sweden and I haven't, yet, posted. I'm flying from this keyboard and to the door after making a snack for the kids and grabbing my favorite walnut/parmesan mix above and I am thinking of you. What snacks do you have when you're in a hurry? What are your favorite snacks? Are they regional? Seasonal? Traditional? Haphazard? What snacks do you prepare for your children?

Standard Swedish afternoon snacks (click here), both at home and at pre-school, are sandwiches (often hard bread with cheese) and/or fruit.  If you're new to willowday, I will mention that our children attend a Swedish-French school and this means that French parents usually greet their children with a sweet afternoon treat: cookies or my husband's childhood favorite: a little piece of baguette with a bit of chocolate. 

I would love to hear from you. What are your afternoon snacks?

SOMETHING YOU MIGHT LIKE:

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Swedish Baby Names

I shy away from showing portraits of our children but, when writing this story,  I could only think of this favorite photo. It was taken on the very Swedish holiday called Midsummer. Our daughter was  6 months old at the time.  Would you believe my friend, Leslie, mother of twins who were the same age as our daughter, whipped this little traditional Swedish Midsummer dress up, for our "Swede" in her spare time for us!  The photo and the outfit are personal treasures.
Naming babies in Sweden
I've been thinking about naming babies and the culture behind them when I recently saw a photo of our Swedish friend's 16 year old daughter, Butterfly. As far as I know, Butterfly has never answered to or used her officially registered name, Emily. She was given the nickname Butterfly from birth and by the time her parents registered her official name, she was walking and talking and would only respond to Butterfly.

Although this may sound a little extreme, this is not an exclusive story here. In Sweden, people generally wait days, weeks and even months before officially registering their new baby's name; leaving enough time for an endearing nickname to stick.

My perception and experience, in the US, with baby names has been the opposite.  I have sent presents to prenatal baby showers where the baby has already been named. I would love to hear your experience or thoughts on naming babies. What was your process? Is there a naming tradition in your culture? Had you decided on a name before you delivered or did you wait to see your baby's face? Do you live in a country where it is also common practice to wait in naming?

On that note, I'd like to share the Top 10 Swedish Baby Names of 2012:

Girls:
1) Alice
2) Maja
3) Elsa
4) Julia
5) Linnéa
6) Ella
7) Ebba
8) Molly
9) Wilma
10) Emma

Boys
1) William
2) Lucas
3) Oscar
4) Hugo
5) Elias
6) Oliver
7) Liam
8) Alexander
9) Viktor
10) Emil

The girl names: Sigrid Victoria, Hilma and Rut have all entered the top 100 in 2012; boy names: Tage, Edward, Johannes and Julian have all entered the top 100 in 2012, too.

In addition to these, there are several classic Swedish names that I've heard through the years, either popular or stand out.  Girls: Mathilda, Elsa, Siri, Lovisa, and Saga. Boys: Ossian,  August, Axel, Gunnar and Kaj.

Did you name your children after family members or follow a family tradition? I'd love to hear from you.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Everyday Inspiration

Wishing you moments of everyday inspiration today!

OTHER PROJECTS THESE PEONIES HAVE INSPIRED:

Monday, May 28, 2012

MONDAY ART: Fingerprint Art

Finger Print PeoniesWe are enjoying the easy feeling in the air of summer but, not necessarily tempo, yet. What about you? I like personalized Teacher and Activities Thank You Cards but, needed one that came together quickly. These were a breeze and the kids were enthusiastic creators. In a heart beat, we made all of the cards we'll need, for the month ahead. If you're just looking for a simple kid project, have the kids make artwork: a field or a row of these fingerprint Peonies.


Use craft foam squares to elevate the artwork when adhering it to the card.

SUPPLIES:
Ink Pad
Paper
Card and Envelope
Scissors
Pen
Craft Foam Squares 























1. Ink finger and start the flower making finger prints. 
2. Begin by making the outer pedals and work in.
3. Once the flower is complete, add stem and message if using on a card.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

GIFT WRAP #16 PART II: FABRIC PYRAMIDS


GIFT WRAP #16 part II : FABRIC PYRAMIDMake these pyramid packages, here in fabric. They're unique packages, keepsake, jewelry or toy holders. Below are several variations for all ages and abilities.
Stiffened felt packges. Instructions below.






Variation #1: DOUBLE FABRIC KEEPERS
Stitch two sides of the pyramids, leaving the third side open to make this jewelry pouch. Detailed instructions below.

Top row: Jewelry keeper back and front.
Bottom row left: Choose two fabrics and cut template.
Bottom row middle. Before ironing, lay fabric #1 flat, then interfacing layer,
 followed by the felt layer which has been cut along the fold lines 
to be re-assembled at this stage and now carefully ironed. 
Bottom row right. Squeeze keeper to place or remove jewelry or keepsakes.
Variation #2: NO-STITCH LACE UP PACKAGE
No needles needed, if you punch holes along the edges. Find pretty ribbon and lace.



Variation #3: Stiffened Felt Pyramids














STIFFEN FELT PYRAMID
Supplies
Template
X-acto Knife
Spray starch
Iron
Hole Punch
Ribbon

1) Cut pyramid template from a heavy paper or carton. Fold back edges for later use.
2) Apply spray starch to both sides of the fabric twice. Let dry between applications and make sure it is completely dry before moving on to the next step.
3) Lay template on the felt fabric. Fold back one corner, as seen above on the upper left, and delicately score the fabric lightly, as seen in the middle picture. Be very, very careful to not pierce the fabric. This step is only to mark a light fold on the felt so that the felt will fold correctly.
4) Once scored. Punch a hole in the upper corner.
5) Fold the pyramid into shape. Fill, if desired. Lace ribbon through the holes and secure.

DOUBLE  FABRIC KEEPER VARIATION
Extra supply: two sided interfacing.
2 fabrics: 1 cotton fabric and 1 piece of coordinating cotton felt
Needle and thread

1) Choose two coordinating fabrics: 1) fabric 2) 1 felt
2) Carefully layer fabrics on top of one another on cutting surface, place template on fabric and cut 2 identical pyramids. 
3) Cut the felt piece along all of the folding edges so that there will be 4 triangles.
3) Set aside. Using the same template, cut one piece of interfacing.
4) On an ironing surface, lay the large fabric piece down, then carefully line up the interfacing layer and place on this fabric piece.
5) Now, reconfigure the small triangles pieces on top of these first two layers. (see blue fabric illustrations).
6) Iron. Once the interfacing has set and cooled you are ready to move onto the next step.
7) With a needle and thread, fold in one of the sides and close this side. Repeat with side two.
If necessary, stitch a few stitches at the bottom on side three -- not too high, but just a few to help keep this open side lie more tightly. 

I would like to wish you a wonderful weekend. I'm feeling kind of lucky, I'm going to celebrate Mother's Day again tomorrow! It's Mother's Day in Sweden this Sunday. These fabric packages are perfect last minute presents or special to hold presents, such as these necklaces, hereAdd a Mother's Day Card, here.  Enjoy! I look forward to seeing you back here on Monday.

Something you might like:
Felt Flower Necklaces
Embroidered Knee Socks
Ice Skate Pom Poms
Embroidered Art Work


Thursday, May 24, 2012

FELT NECKLACES


Pretty in pink with felt peony necklaces:

I love soft necklaces for children and making them together is so much fun. See below for instructions to make this Peony inspired necklace.
Let's make:

SUPPLIES
Yellow yarn (for tassel)
Jersey Cord (for necklace)
Pink Felt (cut circles, mentioned above, from felted wool)
Hole Puncher (I use a leather hole punch)


HOW TO:
Gather Supplies
Cut Piece of Jersey Cord to desired length for necklace.
Find necklace center.
1) Tie tassel firmly with yellow yarn in the center of the jersey. Clip correct length.
2) Slide one small circle on the cord and pull to tassel; then,
Pull BOTH cords through the second petal.
























1) Pull third petal on single strand
2) Tie this first group of three petals
3) Slide the remaining 6 large petals in groups of three: slide three onto a single strand, then tie, using the same procedure, the next two (one on each strand). Finally pull both strands on through the last petal. (Keep an eye on distribution so that petals look evenly distributed for a full flower.) 
4) Pull the petals tightly together and tie. Tie the necklace ends and the necklace is ready to wear or give away.

SOMETHING YOU MIGHT LIKE:Felt Necklaces #2 (not pictured below)
Pocket Necklace
Fabric Keepers
Crepe Flowers
Embroidered Artwork
Embroidered Heart Knee Highs

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

CURRIED CARROT SOUP RECIPE

Our favorite Carrot Soup with curried yogurt topping.
This soup is a five star hit with our family.  I owe it's popularity due to the versatile topping. The carrot-orange soup is classically flavored, but the yogurt topping is spicy. With the topping packing the punch, it can be added at the last minute and tailored to suit all taste buds. Top it with Halloumi and a slice of crusty bread for a complete meal.




















Curried Carrot Soup
8 Carrots, peeled and grated
2 onions, peeled, sliced and diced
Juice from 2 Oranges
1 inch (3 cm) Ginger (optional)
1/4 t Coriander seeds crushed (optional)
2 Olive Oil
1 Quart or 9 dl Waters
1 Vegetable Bouillon or home made (click here)
Salt to taste
Black Pepper

Yogurt topping:
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup olive oil
2T Curry powder (add more if desired)
1/4-1/2 t Cayenne Pepper (add more if desired)
1 pinch of salt
Peels and slice onions, carrots and ginger. Saute the onions in the olive oil until soft. Salt the onions. Add the carrots and ginger and saute for several minutes. Cover with the water, orange juice and add bouillon. Bring to a boil, the bring down to a simmer until the carrots are soft. This take approximately 15 minutes. Once soft, use a hand blender to puree until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.

During the cooking process, prepare the yogurt topping. Combine 1/2 plain yogurt (This works better with thin European versions than Greek style yogurt.) with the olive oil. Once combined, flavor with curry and cayenne pepper and pinch of salt.  Combine well and set aside.

To serve:
Serve soup with a click of the yogurt topping and swirl. Top with salt, pepper and coriander.
Other toppings that I like to add are croutons and halloumi.

SOMETHING YOU MIGHT LIKE:
HARICOT VERT
WINTER PICNIC: PANINI



Tuesday, May 22, 2012

PRINCESS ESTELLE

Hello again. I hope you're been great. I've been in Finland chaperoning our son's handball team over the weekend and returned Monday morning with a terrible, terrible cold. I'll be back with my regular features but today, will share the upside of being home this morning: watching Princess Estelle's Christening broadcast.  It's beautiful and it is easy to understand why these two Princesses are so popular in Sweden and in Europe.
I snapped this shot of the TV while watching the ceremony:
Princess Estelle with her parents, just before the Christening.



For more official photos from the Royal House, click here.


















Today's beautiful weather and the ceremony's pomp; paired with this couple's genuineness and accessibility, quickly bring images of their happy wedding day, two years ago.

The reports that I am getting from around town today say that all cafe's are featuring "Estelle cakes." If you are in Sweden, find your way for an afternoon "fika" and this nobel treat!

SOMETHING YOU MIGHT LIKE

PRINCESS ESTELLE
KID TESTED TIPS FOR TRAVEL TO STOCKHOLM
NESTING BABY SHOWER

More: The Nobel Banquet



Friday, May 18, 2012

Gift Wrap #16: Pyramid Packages

Gift Wrap #16: Pyramid Packages 
(or how to wrap a round object)

It's another long, holiday, weekend, in Sweden, which seems to mean: more days for kid's birthday parties. This wrap came about, as I prepared packages for the weekend and had the challenge of wrapping a ball. How to camouflage it?  I realised that the solution was already right in front of me: the perfect camouflage! Pyramid Packages, of course!
Continue below for full tutorial and printable template. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Syttende Mai

Happy "Syttende Mai" Norway. 
Coming from an area in the US with a lot of people of Scandinavian descent, we even had a local annual fun run called, "Syttende Mai" which my Father would run every year and the reason why I can say "17" in Norwegian.  Due to this, I wonder if I might be more in tune with our Norwegian neighbor today, than, possibly, my Swedish neighborhood neighbors?  Several Norwegian friends will travel back to Norway for this holiday or attend the celebrations at Skansen, in Stockholm. I am wowed by their costumes, aren't you? These costumes can weigh 40 pounds and are worn on festive occasions, even weddings. 
I found several beautiful Norwegian Folk Dresses, here, It's in Swedish. Click here to at least see these works of art.
This has me reflecting on the fact that I highly value this aspect of the American culture where the heritage of blended customs and cultural celebrations makes us one.  Although, Norway is Scandinavian, too, I love the the differences in the details, don't you?

SOMETHING YOU MIGHT LIKE:
CUPCAKES WITH ROSEMALING
NORWEGIAN PATTERNS
MARKETS IN FRANCE
KID TESTED SWEDEN VISITS

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

CUPCAKES WITH ROSEMALING

Cupcakes with Rosemaling. 
Early this morning, I was thinking of the upcoming festivities in Norway and shared some Norwegian designers, click here.  Now, here's something from the heart: Cupcakes with a Norwegian rosemaling twist. I am so excited to share these and so glad that they worked.








Rosemaling for cupcakes

NORWEGIAN PATTERNS FOR ALL



This morning, I am thinking further north: 59.94° N to be exact (Oslo.)  Tomorrow, Norwegian towns and people will deck themselves out in celebration of it's National Day and I thought it was a good occasion to share a few Norwegian talents.

ONSIE:
It was love at first site, for me, with these, classic cotton, Norwegian-Sweater-styled, Onsies. Baby soft Norwegian style, anyone? These come in several color ways, with latest editions in bamboo, too. Check them out. Link here


BLANKETS
100% Norwegian goods made in Norway by Oleana. Their line is predominantly wool,  from original blankets to unique Norwegian party wear, that play on traditional Norwegian handicraft. The quality is fantastic. Link here




ONE PIECE
Did you know that the trendy, original, ONE PIECE was invented in Norway? Read about it here.  These oversized one pieces are all over the place in Stockholm, have they come to your area of the world, too? What do you think? Where is your personal age limit for dressing your kids in a one piece? Yourself?
SOMETHING ELSE YOU MIGHT LIKE:





Tuesday, May 15, 2012

MAKING VANILLA EXTRACT

VANILLA EXTRACTMake your own vanilla extract. It's quick, it's easy and oh, so good.
Vanilla extract is difficult to find in Sweden. It is sold in a vanilla sugar form which gives a flavor different to what I am accustomed to. Due to this, I tried to do it on my own and haven't gone back. This is how it's done:




HOW-TO MAKE VANILLA
10 vanilla beans
2 cups clear Vodka
Slit 10 vanilla beans down their sides. Place, standing up, in a lidded jar that will be sealable. Cover beans with Vodka. Seal tight and let steep for 8 weeks, shaking every few weeks and store in a dark space. Use a usual.
I love having these beans on hand, as well and scrape a few seeds to impart extra vanilla bean to baked goods batter. Simply re-place the beans, as you deplete your supply, and cover, again, with vodka.*
(*I haven't tried this but have heard about a non-alcohol version ,here, if you prefer.)

SOMETHING YOU MIGHT LIKE:BONFIRE CUPCAKES
OLD FASHIONED GINGER COOKIES
GRANOLA
RAINBOW CAKE