round trip




Returning home after an extended vacation is almost as exhilarating as taking off. I am sitting here in the studio trying to recap three wonderful weeks away, sifting through notes and photographs, and sorting through my thoughts...




The first week was spent with family and friends in southern Sweden. The weather was gorgeous and we were offered a plentitude of delicious meals and refreshing drinks. Our evenings were laced with engaging discussions, laughter, and friendship. We criss-crossed the region via train, bus, and car, visiting museums, shops, and cosy restaurants. We swam, basked in the sun, and strolled. It was the most perfect of times.






Paris was the destination for the second part of the trip. We arrived wide-eyed and ready for everything the city of light has to offer. The beautiful apartment on the left bank had a roof top view of the Eifel tower and was the base, for our daily excursions. We quickly came up with a long list of favorites including; Degas painting The orchestra of the opera at Musée d'Orsay, the tomb of Heloise and Abelard in Pere Lachaise Cemetery (what a love story), Papier+ in the Marais quarters, the Victory statue in the Louvre, the all out meat dinner at Relais de l'Entrecote, the kitchen store of all kitchen stores - E. Dehillerin, the stroll through the Porte de Vanves flea market, and getting to know Eva Besnyö and her beautiful photographs at Jeu de Paume. The list goes on, but it is still the everyday experiences that are the true highlights when visiting a new city, such as fetching fresh bread from the bakery every morning, walking down a narrow street at dusk, overhearing a conversations at the lunch table, perusing the market for fresh fruit, and going to bed at night with aching feet and a mind overfilled with new impressions.












Happily back home, I admit that we were ready to reunite with the dogs, sleep in our own beds, and cook a simple meal in our own kitchen. That is what vacations are for. And I am itching to get back to work, to continue pieces in progress and start on things totally new. Somehow the experiences from weeks past will make their way into the process of making and creating that I love so much.

 

happy returns

Three weeks seems like a short time. But much happened in this tiny time span. First off I had a birthday - a momentous and frightening one. Fifty years seems like a really long time. To relieve any possible angst, my mom and my sisters brought me to Kivik, a small Swedish coastal resort town offering sweeping ocean views, back massages, fresh berries, and the coolest weeping beech tree, ever. Thank you.

We dyed cloth with Swedish delights from my mom's garden - peach, maples, currant, walnut, among other things, with bright and beautiful results.

And then there was the three day trip with just my 15 year old son and I, filled to the brim with visits to military museums, history museums, art museums, and a few gourmet meals in between. So much fun!

Other small but equally wonderful things happened during these brief weeks. Morning runs along the water with my sister. Intense card playing with my nephew. Yarn shopping. Visit to my fathers grave with fresh flowers (top photo). Wine sipping and movie watching. Some more yarn shopping...

It is good to be back in my new homeland, to reunite with my lovely husband, house, dogs, garden, family, and the work I love. But it is always hard to leave the old homeland behind. Still one of the coolest places on earth in my estimation. Until next time...

swedish treats


These goodies arrived yesterday. Zoega is my favorite coffee brand and the marabou chocolate is to die for. The flaggpunsch is delicious as a sweet after dinner drink, served really cold in shot glasses. The people who brought us the Swedish treats are special too. My mom and sister are here for a two week plus stay. I am delighted to see them again and look forward to long scrumptious meals, garden excursions, stitching sessions, dog walks, and happy companionship.


all white

The world is blanketed in snow outside my studio window. Inside I am sifting through my vintage treasure box. Most of its content relates to my family. Every monogram and piece of lace has a history. I come from a line of seamstresses. Not the professional kind, but the kind who sewed, stitched, and embroidered out of necessity and out of joy. Weaving, knitting, quilting, tailoring, crocheting, mending, and altering were my grandmother's and my mother's artistry. Their passion and appreciation were passed on to me. Some of their skills (not all) were as well...


Each time I visit my mom in Sweden, I bring a few more pieces back with me. My promise to her and to myself is that they will be used for a special project, a heirloom of heirlooms of sort. I don't know what shape it will take, when it will be done, or how, but hopefully it will be worthy to pass on to a few more generations.


A few belated thank yous are in order. Gay over at I dreamed I saw, included my geranium sachets in her sweet smelling post this weekend, and Elaine at nestingblog recently featured my queen anne's lace art quilt. Tusen tack! I also want to thank Denise from Hamburg, Germany, (lieblings.weerke) who picked my market tote as one of the items in her beautiful fig post.

happily home

We have returned. Four weeks away seemed like no time at all despite being filled with family fun, explorations, food discoveries, walks, and other adventures. I am glad to be back in Charlottesville, reunited with my lovely husband, who could only join us for part of the trip, and Freja the dog, who seems confused and slightly depressed without her companion.

I am also eager to start work again, my mind and my sketchbook are filled with ideas. I look forward to settling in to my creative routines, exploring new prints, and delving into embroidery, my newfound passion. The etsy shop is up and running and the inleaf site will follow shortly.

I'll leave you with some more Scandinavian goodies.

Small boat harbor and traditional street houses in Roskilde.

Birthday lunch with my mom in Malmö.

Overnight trip with the boys to Copenhagen.

Viking ship museum in Roskilde.

Anemones and wild strawberries in my moms garden.

Österlen

This week, my mom and I traveled by car to Österlen, the southern most part of Sweden, known for its rolling landscape, small farms, artist studios, and gourmet food. It was nice for the two of us to spend a whole day together, with no set schedule or distractions. First stop was Skåne Tranås where we discovered the gourmet chocolate maker Österlenchoklad and Ann-Louise Månsson's beautiful felted wool creations called tovade ting. Next we continued to kaos, an artisan group in Södra Mellby. Lunch followed at Buhre's Fisk located by the water's edge in Kivik harbor. We stopped at Gröna Butiken in Orelund to stock up on organic veggies and fresh berries, before continuing along the cost to Simrishamn where I was born, many years ago. We finished up with a visit to Apotekarns Trädgård, a garden with an almost tropical climate located in the center of town. A perfect ending to a perfect day!

sunshine and sorrow

Our Sweden vacation continues. We have returned to Malmö, where my mom and sisters live. The boys enjoy sleep-in mornings and days filled with play, beach visits and no commitments. I relish having time for true conversations, long evening meals, and endless card games with my nephews. We've been to a Swedish premier league soccer game, a youth track meet, many neat museums, restaurants, and stores...

But sadness lingers amidst our joyful activities. Kajsa, one of our dogs has died while we were away. She was sick with a fever when we left, and despite loving care from our veterinarian, house sitter, and friends, she continued to get worse. When her liver stopped working we decided to put her down, a difficult step to take in any circumstance and heart wrenching when you are thousands of miles away. Kajsa was an amazing, intelligent, and loving dog. She was worried and fearful (especially of hot air balloons and thunder) but extraordinarily devoted, loyal, and trusting. And she knew how to smile. I'll miss her.

swedish delights

Great design, art, and functionality are embedded in Swedish society. It is evident whether you visit a public park, a local restaurant, or someones home. While I am visiting I want to introduce a few of my favorite Swedish artists and designers, starting with Signe Persson-Melin a fantastic ceramist, and designer. Now in her eighties, she is still active in her studio in my family's hometown Malmö. Most recently she has a designed a series of beautiful garden pots and birdbaths in collaboration with Byarums Bruk. Throughout her long career she has created an array of alluring objects, from glass storage containers and rustic tea pots, to silverware and altar decorations. Signe Persson-Melin's work is on display at Kulturen in Lund until August 16, if you are in the neighborhood...

G.A.D is a swedish design company founded and based on the island Gotland, east of the Swedish mainland. G.A.D is renowned for their high quality furniture and use of native woods and natural materials. I love the simplicity, clean lines, and muted colors. Too bad most of their goods are too large for my suitcases...

vacation

We have arrived at Nösund, my family's summer house on the west coast of Sweden. This is where I spent my childhood summers; swimming, sailing, fishing, berry picking, hiking, and rock climbing. It is my favorite place on earth. The cottage is small, and rustic, perched on a cliff only yards from the water. Now my entire family is gathered here; my mother and sisters, my sons, their uncle, all their cousins, and my husband. I feel privileged to be here and to share this inspirational place with the people I love.

happy holidays

The straw julbock has been part of my Christmas since childhood, along with gingerbread cookies, chubby painted candlesticks, and fresh smelling greenery. Over the years we have added new traditions to the old, mixing our Scandinavian and American heritage into something that is uniquely ours. Decorating the tree is one of our holiday favorites. It is now covered in ornaments collected over time — vintage glass balls, straw stars, popsicle stick reindeers, tinsel garlands, and felted elves, all have equal importance. Most of all this is a time to rejoice in life, family, friends, and togetherness. I wish all of you a joyous, peaceful, warm, and happy holiday season.


gifts in times of stress

I try to focus on the little things. The dogwood tree's bright berries and mauve tinted leaves. The big smile on my son's face after a couple of saves in the soccer goal. The cool fresh air during early morning runs... But it is difficult to ignore the stress these days. The markets are crashing and those precious college funds, needed in just a few years, are dwindling. Inleaf sales are meager as well, and lets not get started on the cost of groceries...

In the midst of anxiety and distress my newfound Swedish blogger friend and artist Eva-Lena Rehnmark is promoting a world wide movement called the 29-day giving challenge, in which you pledge to give something every day for 29 days. Eva-Lena will donate an original painting (see above) to a giver who is willing to comment about their giving experience on her blog. The deadline is November 4th, and you don't have to finish the full 29 days to enter. The daily gift can be anything from a kind word to a stranger, a pile of old sweaters to a homeless shelter, a cooked meal to someone in need, or a monetary contribution to a charity. It is the spirit that counts.

random delights

Dutch graphic designer Karin's wonderful etsy shop stiksel is brimming with alluring objects such as the upcycled canvas postal bag complete with original printing and straps and the gocco printed patchwork patch that can be used to fix that favorite well worn pair of blue jeans as well as for pure adornment, anywhere. You will also find fun luggage tags, travel pouches, and wallets. Make sure to visit Karin's blog to learn more about her creative life in Rotterdam.

if you like mid-century modern scandinavian furniture my friends dorthe and pelle ekelin's swedish company moderna möbelklassiker should be your destination. Their carefully selected pieces are available through their website, where you also can find images of pelle's vast plastic furniture collection. I know the dollar is low, these rarities are quite pricey, and then there is the freight... but lusting for beauty is always free and allowed.

metalsmith julie schumaker hand crafts her jewelry in her Manhattan, Montana studio. Sterling silver is soldered, engraved, hammered, twisted, brushed, and finally embellished with freshwarer pearls, recycled glass, petrified wood or precious stones. The result is a collection of simple, organic, and very elegant rings, bracelets, necklaces, and earrings. These masterpieces are available through sterling jules website and you can also find Julie's work at The Barn Swallow.

47 and counting

Today is my birthday. My little guy is feeling much better, which is the greatest gift of all. He is back home playing with the dogs, cracking wry jokes, and delving into his favorite books. He even baked his signature chocolate chip cookies. He will need some additional medical attention for the next few weeks, but we are all hoping for a full recovery. Having a seriously ill child truly makes you reflect on what is important in life. So my birthday promise is to slow down and to live my days more fully, embracing every moment I have with my sons.

My mother and sisters sent me this beautiful necklace by swedish jewelry designer efva attling. Her work is world renowned and I am honored to have one of her pieces. The silver droplet is so sensual and simple. Tusen tack mamma, katta, och ulrika!

My lovely husband and the boys gave me a bicycle, which I will pick out from here. I am thrilled to be able to pedal to the market and the post office without leaving carbon wheel prints. Tonight we are off for a family dinner at duners. Life at 47 is bliss...