Saturday, December 29, 2012

Christmas is a good time for proposals . . .

A cousin mentioned recently that her daughter had become engaged at Christmas and it reminded me of the year that Bopa proposed to me also at Christmas.  He was such a clever man and had a wicked sense of humor.  I think my children probably know the story but I don’t think my grandchildren do so I thought I would share it for them.

All those many years ago Bopa and I had been seeing each other for about two years and we had been talking very seriously about marriage that autumn before Christmas.  As you might guess I was expecting something special and rather small for my Christmas gift from him.  But, no, my gift from Bopa was a Jackson Pollock jigsaw puzzle. 

Puzzle box

I do like and enjoy puzzles but this was a bit of a disappointment.  Bopa was watching me and his eyes were twinkling in a very mischeivious way. 

“Aren’t you going to put the puzzle together?”  He asked innocently.

He made me put it together mostly by myself with just a little help from him and although it was a 350 piece puzzle not 1,000 pieces it still took some time to do because as you can see from the picture above Jackson Pollock is not known for painting anything except splashes and drips, no real design as a guide.  I was probably grumbling and mumbling as I worked on it but I do like puzzles quickly becoming wrapped up in the task and forgetting to be cranky.  When the puzzle was all put together Bopa instructed me to turn it over.  That was also not easy to do because the pieces tended to fall out and that meant additional putting together time.

On the reverse side of the puzzle was a message telling me where to look for my “real” present.  By this time I think Bopa was almost laughing out loud.  After much searching I found a tiny white box tied on the Christmas tree way inside the branches and hard to find, of course.  And yes, it did have what was to become his traditional signature mark of a knotted red avalanche cord tied around the box.  When I opened the box there was a beautiful engagement ring.  He had chosen the stone first and then gone to a local jewelery artist to have a ring custom designed and made.  The ring was sitting there so prettily but it had a fairly long string attached to it.

“What is that string for?”  I asked him.

“Well, the ring is yours,” he smiled, “but there is a string attached as you noticed.  The string means you have to marry me to keep the ring.”  His eyes were twinkling again because he knew I really wanted that pretty ring and hopefully wanted him too and would say yes.

He later said he was glad I persevered and didn’t give up because marriage is or can be hard work.  He was trying to show me that really good things do not always come easily and that the end result (reward) was worth the effort.  It was indeed.  We had a long marriage full of love, laughter and companionship.  As you can see the lesson stuck with me as I kept the puzzle all these years and still remember the event with fondness but also a bit of frustration.

I was going to try and put it together again and flip it over so the message could be read but after looking at the pieces I noticed that the writing on the reverse seems to have faded over time.  Unfortunately it is no longer legible.  But I do still have and wear the ring--

At the time, and even now, I think, it is customary to give a diamond but I did not want a diamond so the stone he chose was a moonstone.  The original wedding band is yellow gold designed and made by the same jeweler. Many years later he did give me a diamond solitaire for Christmas.  He said I was his sun, moon and stars and each of the three rings represented one of those things.  He was not only clever but romantic as well. 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 71

 Thelma Lorine, ca 1906


Today’s postcard is one of those that have a family photo but unlike many cards of this nature the photo takes up only about one third of the space the remaining area is left for the message.  During this time period messages were required to be written on the "picture" side of the card and the card demonstrates a clever way to allow an area for the written message without marking the photograph.  

It must have been hand delivered to the Lees, as it does not have a stamp or a postmark.  Notice the way the address is written, the city under their names and the street underneath on the left bottom side.  Today the name would be first, the street address under that and the city, state, and zip code the bottom line.  One card to I.C. Lee sent prior to 1904 was simply addressed to him as a police officer with the city and state but no street address at all and he still got it.  Undivided back postcards were printed in the United States from 1901 to 1907.  Since the Lees were married in 1904 it is possible to date this card between 1904 and 1907.  

The mystery is how the Lees were connected to Thelma Lorine Erickson.  As far as I can tell during this time period there were no family members married to an Erickson, so it is probable that Thelma was the daughter of friends.  As mentioned several times previously the Lees had many friends and entertained frequently. 

Cards like this one that have photographs of family members or friends are ways we can get a window into the past to see what life must have been like about 100 years ago. Little Thelma Lorine appears to be wearing a lamb’s wool coat and is quite bundled up.  In addition to a rather large scarf around her neck she is even wearing little gloves or mittens.  The clothing styles, the subject matter, the poses, all help us understand that period of time better and I, for one, find them fascinating.  If there are messages on cards such as in this case they often can be interesting or funny as they sometimes show differences in spellings and current language usage (slang).  

Many of our ancestors were immigrants and their friends were also immigrants not always from the same countries. Klara Landaas Hillevang [Hillwang] was known to have described her neighbors as "Swedes paa siden" or "Swedes on the side" referring to the next house down from them.  This was not meant as a derogatory statement but just a way to identify the neighbors.  Everybody was new enough so that they were not yet thinking of themselves as Americans and still referred to their home countries or origins.  The neighborhood wasn't all Scandinavians, although in Ballard they were mostly Scandinavians, there would have been immigrants from other countries too.  Generally the way English was used, not just on this particular card, shows some of that morphing from a native language to English particularly when it concerns plurals and sentence structure both often different in other languages. 

The message reads:  “Ma and Pa wants you to have a Merry Xmas and wishes you a Happy New Year and many of them (not little ones like me).  We are all well here but must stay "to hum" Xmas cause they have had Whoopin’ coughs at my chums house and I don’t want that!”

"I greet you for all 3 of "We’ums"
Thelma Lorine Erickson"

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

'Tis the season, cookies (?), 10


 Cinnamon rolls 

Many years ago, I cannot remember exactly when this tradition began in our family, we started having cinnamon rolls/buns for Christmas Day brunch.  People who have made yeast dough breads know that normally it takes between 3 and 4 hours to make rolls or bread due to the time it takes for the dough to rise and rest.  This recipe takes roughly 90 minutes from start to finish.  It is still a fair amount of work but the rolls are yummy and make a special holiday treat.  Most often rolls like these have a white sugary glaze on the top but we like a butter and brown sugar topping instead.  The recipe will make enough for 3 or 4 loaves of bread depending on the size of the loaf pan, or 3 large pans of rolls, or 2 pans of rolls (approximately 24 rolls) and one loaf of bread.  I often cut it back by ¼ and make 2 pans of rolls (one large pan and one smaller pan or about 30 rolls).

Basic dough for both bread & rolls:

4 cups of warm water
4 tablespoons of dried yeast or 4 cakes of yeast
4 teaspoons of salt
8 tablespoons of sugar
4 tablespoons of melted butter
10 to 12 cups of flour

For cinnamon rolls add:
Soften butter to spread on dough
Brown sugar

½ cup butter (1 cube)
¾ cup dark brown sugar

Mix together and heat to form a carmel-like sauce.

Use a large bowl and large spoon.*  Dissolve or soften the yeast in 1 cup of the warm water.  Mix in some flour (2 or 3 cups).  Add rest of water.  Add the sugar, salt, and melted butter.  (Caution:  be sure to add the salt last after there is sufficient flour to keep it from deactivating the yeast, otherwise, the dough will not rise properly.)  Add remaining flour to form a soft elastic but not sticky dough.   Divide into 3 or 4 equal sized balls.  Cover and let stand for 15 minutes.  Using a mallet or the handle of a heavy wooden spoon pound each piece for 1 minute.

For bread form into loaf shape and place in greased or sprayed** loaf pans.  Cover and let rise for 30 minutes.  The dough should double in size.

For cinnamon rolls—roll out on lightly floured surface forming a more or less rectangular shape.  Liberally spread with soft butter, sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon.  Roll up into a long tube shape and cut into 1/2”  to 1" slices.  Spray or grease 9x13 or 9x9 inch pans.  Place rolls close to each other in the pans.  Cover and let rise 30 minutes.   The dough should double in size.

Bake both bread and rolls in a preheated 400 degree F oven for about 30 minutes or until nice and brown on top.

While the rolls are baking make the topping by melting the butter in a small pan on medium low heat.  Add the dark brown sugar and mix together to make a carmel-like sauce.  Do not boil this mixture or you will never get it out of the pan!  Let the topping stay on the stove on “Low” heat to keep it warm and liquid but do not let it set up.

The rolls are best served hot/warm with more butter and the carmel topping.   The bread is good warm with butter and jam but is also good after it has cooled down.

The basic dough recipe is from Tried & True, p. 18 --  “Jessie Evans Smith’s 90-min. Bread”

*  I am used to using spoons and hands to work with dough.  In theory it should work just as well using a heavy duty mixer like a Kitchen Aid with a dough hook.

**  I often use PAM or some other vegetable spray to grease the pans.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 70


He is called a Nisse in Norway and Denmark, a Tomte, Tomtenisse, or sometimes Nisse in Sweden, and a Tonttu in Finland.  A bit like the Irish Leprechaun, a Brownie, a Gnome, an Elf, and somehow distantly related to Santa Claus.  Ever since 1871 when the story “Lilla Viggs ädventyr på julafton” (Little Vigg’s Adventures on Christmas Eve) and 1881’s poem called “Tomten” both by Viktor Rydberg were published and accompanied by Jenny Nyström’s drawings and paintings showing a white bearded, red capped, friendly figure the Nisse or Tomte has been associated with Christmas but has roots in much older Scandinavian folklore. 

Jenny Nyström (1854-1946) was interested in the booming postcard business of her time and tried to persuade the Swedish publishing company Bonnier to enter the market but was not successful.  Ryberg also tried to get his Lilla Viggs printed by Bonnier but ended up releasing it through S. A. Hedlund Publishing instead.  Nyström became one of Sweden’s most productive painters and illustrators.  Strålin & Perrson AB of Falun distributed her work.   Several of her illustrations, including the Christmas paintings did end up on postcards and can be viewed by Googling Jenny Nyström images.  Some of the cards featuring Nyström’s illustrations are labeled as miniature because they are approximately 3x5 inches instead of the more standard 4x6 inch size. 

The name Nisse is derived from a nickname for Nils, the name Tomte comes from the word for house lot or place of residence.  Originally a mischievous character associated with the farm or the local ancient burial mounds he sneaks around at night protecting the farm and family or causing all sorts of trouble.  It depends on how nice the family has been and if they leave out a dish of porridge for him. 

His size can vary from a few inches in height to about half the size of an adult man.  Usually he is dressed in normal clothes such as a farmer would wear and has a red cap although at least in one instance he is wearing a blue cap.  He is elderly and often has a long white beard.  Norwegian folklore says he has four fingers, frequently has pointed ears, and his eyes glow in the dark.  A Nisse is supposed to be skilled in illusions and can make himself invisible.  It would be impossible to get more than a brief glimpse of him, if that.  

Julenisse outside the window

The Landaas family was extremely poor for a period of time just before they left Norway for America but they always left out a bowl of porridge for the Julenisse at Christmas.  My grandmother would tell stories from her childhood of how they would put their shoes just so by the bed or door in hopes that a few nuts or an orange would be left by the Julenisse.  The bowl of porridge was left with a pat of butter on top, a luxury I think.  According to my grandmother they sometimes left sugar and raisins, if they had them, too because it was wise to be as nice as possible to the Julenisse if you wanted all to be well in the house and if children expected some little treat in return. 

Julenissen is an unofficial Norwegian ambassador of peace.  He has his own post office box and receives letters from people in all parts of the world.  One of the articles I read said that he should not be confused with the American Santa Claus.  He is described as uniquely Norwegian [Maybe Scandinavian is more apt since his kin appear in more than one country?] and was born centuries ago from a pre-Christian folk belief.  His many small relatives are referred to as Nisser and they live around the houses and in barns and boathouses.   Nisser are shy and only come out from their hiding places to play “harmless tricks” on people or to eat the porridge left out for them.  I will be looking around my yard and in my cupboards for days now wondering if I have Nisser living close by. 

These two postcards above sent to me several years ago show Nisser looking like jolly little elves.  The top card was illustrated by [Kjell E.] Midthun the second card is signed by A. Kaardahl.  Nisser often appear on Norwegian Christmas cards and since this is the Thursday before Christmas I share them today with you.

God Jul!  Merry Christmas!

What is that in the tree in my yard?

For more information:

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Grandma's babysitting tonight!

Grandma's here!

 What do you have?

 If I get really, really close will I be able to see what you have?

 It's a camera!  ;-}  SMILE!  Show me your new teeth, please.  Thank you!

 Look at this new soft toy . . .

I can climb on it . . .

 Did you see me?  Shall I do it again?

You can't catch me with the camera, I'm too fast!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Leif Erikson monument

 Leif Erikson monument garden, Shilshole marina

Several weeks ago I took some pictures to send to my friend in France so he could see what it looks like here in Seattle.  One of the places I visited was Shilshole marina in Ballard.  At the marina is the Leif Erikson statute and “rock” garden monument.   Currently there are 13 runic like stones containing plaques with the names of Scandinavian immigrants.  A final stone, number 14, is being prepared and will have room for several hundred names.  There was a small display by the rock garden that included a brochure explaining the project and how to make a donation to submit a name for the last stone.  Our family has so many immigrants I thought it would be nice to have at least one name on a stone.  At that time there was room for approximately 200 more names on the 14th stone.  

Our family history really is one of immigration and not that many generations back either.  

1,2,3 & 4.  Henry and Catharina Lorig, Catharina's brother and sister, Adolph & Agnes Schloeder are the earliest immigrants arriving in 1854 but they came from the Rheinland-Pfalz area of Germany and cannot be considered for inclusion on the plaque.  Below is a chronological list of some of our Scandinavian immigrant ancestors.

5. 1880 – I. C. Lee, Telemark, Norway

6. 1892 – Mikkeline Oliva Landaas (“Maggie”), Bergen, Norway

7. 1893 – Petra Kathinka Landaas, Bergen, Norway

8. 1897 – Adolph Johan Landaas, Bergen, Norway

9.  1898 – Axel William Schrøder, Bornholm, Denmark

10. 1901 – Harald Christian Landaas, Bergen, Norway

11. 1901 – Cornelius Landaas, Bergen, Norway

12. 1901 – Peder Johan Mikkelsen Landaas, Bergen, Norway

13 & 14.  1901 – John Mikalsen Hornnes & Lydia Gabrielsdatter, Hornnes, Norway

15. 1902 – Karen Olsdatter Kalvetræ Landaas, Bergen, Norway

16. 1902 – Klara Kristofa Landaas, Bergen, Norway

17.  before 1903 – Samuel Hillevang, Bergen, Norway (married Klara Landaas)

18 & 19. 1902 – Nora Landaas, Bergen, Norway  [Nora’s husband, Johan “Johnny” Johansen was also an immigrant, no arrival date.]

20. 1902 – Sigrid Johanne Landaas, Bergen, Norway

21.  1902 – Trygve Landaas, Bergen, Norway

22. 1902 – Anna Mikalsdatter Hornnes, Hornnes, Norway

23.  1902 – Hansine Margrethe Kjøller Schrøder, Bornholm, Denmark

24 & 25. 1903 – Didrik Thompson (“Dick”), Bergen, Norway  [Dick’s 2nd wife Celia Skage was also a Norwegian immigrant but I do not have her immigration year.]

26 & 27.  1908 -- Anna & Sadie Stean, Hornnes, Norway  [I did not count Marie since she returned to Norway]
28.  1909  -- Wilhelmina Valle (married Harald Landaas), Bergen, Norway

29, 30, & 31.  1910 -- Berent Berentsen, Anna Berentsen, & Bergliot Berentsen, Bergen, Norway

32.  1910  --  Gunnie Osmund, Gåseflå, Norway (Gunnie's husband, L.R. Swanson was also an immigrant from Sweden.)

33 & 34.  1914 (?)  -- Anna & Oline Espetveit, Hornnes, Norway

35 & 36.  1925 – Henrik Valle & Ragnvald Valle (Wilhelmina’s brothers) Bergen, Norway

Since I do not have all the information for some of the extended family members, among those not counted are Magda, the niece of I.C. Lee, and her husband, Erling Hylland, from Skien, Telemark, Norway who returned to Norway; John Stean, brother of Anna, Sadie & Marie, from the Hornnes, Norway area who immigrated to Canada; Dick Thompson's sister, Alfhild Thompson Skage; and I.C. Lee's brother, A.C. Lee who arrived some time after 1880 from Telemark, Norway and eventually settled in Salt Lake City, Utah.  Birger Berentsen, the nephew of Karen Landaas, arrived in 1909/1910 and went almost immediately to Alaska.  Ingrid Hylland the daughter of Magda and Erling did come to the United States as a high school student I think in the 1950s and lived with the Jones family in Walla Walla, Washington.  She graduated from Whitman College in Walla Walla and later married Jerry Jesseph.  They had two sons one of whom has returned to Norway.  The family lived for a short time in Seattle.  Ingrid died in Seattle at age 38.


 In addition to having a name engraved on the plaque for the stone a very nice certificate is sent to the donor.  I was not expecting the certificate; therefore, it was a lovely surprise.  The letter that arrived with the certificate said that additional copies were available for a fee of $4.00 each.  I thought this might be information readers would like to know since if families went in together to make the donation they could all get certificates for a nominal extra fee. 

 Why did I choose Axel Schrøder?  Because he was in his young years a sailor and he arrived prior to 1900.  Where the monument is located is a marina and the annual blessing of fishing fleet occurs here so it seemed fitting that if I could only choose one it should be a sailor.  Now that I know there are more spaces it might be possible to add another name.  The Leif Erikson Foundation hopes to have the last stone installed in 2013 so I am guessing not too many spaces are remaining at the time of this writing.  If any readers wish to have a name inscribed on the stone it would be prudent to contact the foundation soon.

 Part of the Shilshole marina

Below is a scanned copy of a portion of the brochure. Should any readers want to consider making a donation and adding a name to the stone, application forms are available on line at  

Leif Erikson Foundation brochure

Thursday, December 13, 2012

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 69

                                      “Juleglide” by Lars Jorde, 1895-1896

Else Marie Roland sent me this postcard many years ago.  I had no idea how famous this image called “Juleglide” was until I started looking for information about the artist.  The Norwegian artist and illustrator, Lars Jorde, painted the picture shown on this postcard above in 1895/1896.  It measures 108 x 143 cm or 42” x 56” and is oil on canvas.  The original painting is to be found at the Norwegian National Gallery in Oslo.   As the title suggests it is a Christmas sledding/sliding scene with the sled tracks evident on the snowy hillside.   

There are four or five sleighs or sleds and several figures though they are somewhat difficult to see.  People are in the open lit doorway, one person by the pony with the lantern on the snowy ground and another figure kneeling in the snow by a sled.  At first I thought the tree branches were reflections in the lit windows but upon a more careful examination it proved to be trees in front of the house.  The artist’s choice of colors emphasizes the cold outdoors and the warmth inside.  It is easy to imagine laughing children sliding down that hill in the sleds and the ponies pulling the sleds back up the hill for another ride.

Lars Jorde was born in Vang, Norway in 1865 and later settled in Lillehammer, Oppland, Norway.   He died in 1939.  Several of his works are displayed in the Norwegian National Gallery in Oslo. 

He illustrated the non-fiction account of the polar expedition of 1893-1896 written by Fridtjof Nansen and Otto Neumann Sverdrup titled “Fram over polhavet” written in 1897.  He also illustrated the novel “I cancelliraadens dage” by Trygve Andersen published in 1907.  This book is a series of ten short stories based on Norwegian legends that are linked together through the people and villages in such a way to make one complete story or book. 

A check of Google Images under the name Lars Jorde will show many of his works.  He painted in several different styles so it is interesting to look at the images. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

O Christmas Tree


Today with the help of the Gimlets I got a Christmas tree.  In past years we have always had a large tree, sometimes so large it needed to be cut off a bit to fit without poking a hole in the ceiling.  These big trees required that the heavy living room furniture be moved and now that Bopa is not here to help it seemed wiser to get a small tree and put it on top of an end table.   So this little tree came to the house today.  The cat is not the only one confused.

It only took one string of 35 lights and a fraction of my vast collection of ornaments but here is the finished product.  And, yes, I do realize that the top ornament is crooked.  It always is.  That has become a tradition of sorts so I don’t even try to straighten it any more.  

The cookies are in the tins.  The presents will soon be wrapped and under this little tree.  It is time to sing carols and wish all of you Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 7, 2012

'Tis the season, cookies, 9

Gingersnaps—a crisp cookie with a burst of molasses, ginger, cinnamon and clove flavors.   These cookies are easy to make and are one of the few cookies where I use shortening instead of butter and the mixer instead of a wooden spoon or my hands.  The shortening makes the cookies crisp and the “snap” in Gingersnap, I think, is supposed to mean super crisp.  Makes 5 to 6 dozen small to medium sized cookies that keep well. 


2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon ginger
¼ teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups sugar
¾ cup shortening
¼ cup molasses  [the original recipe called for light molasses but I use dark molasses for more flavor]
1 egg

Use an electric mixer to cream 1 cup of the sugar and the shortening until light and fluffy.  Add molasses and egg.  When well blended slowly add the flour, flavorings, baking soda and salt.  If the dough is too sticky to handle put it in the refrigerator for about one hour.  When ready to bake, pinch off small amounts and form into 1 to 1 ½ inch balls.  Roll the balls of dough in the remaining 1/3 cup sugar and place on greased cookie sheets.  Bake in a preheated 375 degree F oven for about 10 minutes.  

During the baking the cookies will flatten out and get cracks or crinkles on the surface.  This is supposed to happen!  I was worried the first time I made them as they looked so different when they came out of the oven.  One problem when using the dark molasses is that it is hard to tell when the cookies are done because they are dark colored to begin with so you will have to test one out after it has cooled to see if it is crisp enough.  My oven is “slow” so I often have to add a minute to two to the suggested baking times.  


From:  McCall's Cook Book, page 186

Thursday, December 6, 2012

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 68

 Champs-Élysées, Paris, France, ca 1900-1915


This charming postcard dating from about 1900 to WWI shows “la plus belle avenue du monde” or the most beautiful avenue in the world--Champs-Élysées in Paris, France.  The photo on the card was taken from the Place de la Concorde looking toward the Arc de Triomphe that is just barely visible in the center background.  The card has the number 20 at the top and in the lower right corner is J.M.T. Paris.  Probably the photographer or the publisher as there is no publishing information on the reverse side.  Many of these old cards that I collect are unused and therefore do not have messages from 100 years ago, however, this one is a used cardMy friend in France sent the card to me and kindly translated the message as from:  "Moreau warrant officer on leave" with a greeting "I shake your hand, dear old fellow."  

 It is fun to notice the way the people are dressed, the ladies walking with parasols and pedestrians crossing the street.  There are a few automobiles but also several horse drawn carriages and buggies.  The roadway is paved today but in the postcard it looks more like cobblestones or bricks. 

Paris is divided into Arrondissements that “coil” clockwise out from the center of the city like the spirals on a shell.  The Champs-Élysées is located in the 8th Arrondissement northwest of the city center.  The avenue is lined with clipped chestnut trees and contains luxury specialty shops, cafés, cinemas, and is considered one of the most expensive strips of real estate in the world. 

From the top of the Arc de Triomphe* the avenue seems to stretch out almost to infinity but is in actuality about 1.18 miles.   Today the traffic on the avenue is more or less constant day and night and much different than the modes of transportation shown on the card.   Wide sidewalks or footpaths have been created on either side and there are crosswalks but pedestrians no longer can walk in the street as shown on the card nor are horse drawn buggies and carriages the norm. 

View from the top of the Arc de Triomphe

Before 1616 the avenue was fields and market gardens.  It was Marie de Medici who extended the Tuileries Garden with an avenue of trees.   Louis XIV had the avenue transformed by the landscape architect André Le Nôtre and it was then called “Grand Cours” or the Great Course in 1670.  It was not until 1709 that it took its current name of Champs Élysées.  It was several more years before the avenue became what is now familiar.  Because of the size and proximity to famous landmarks the avenue has been the site of notable parades.  Every year on Bastille Day the largest military parade in Europe is held on this avenue.  The famous Tour de France bicycle race has finished here since 1975.  Huge gatherings take place on New Year’s Eve and spontaneous political gatherings occur here and at the Place de la Concorde to the east also. 

Try and imagine this avenue at Christmastide when there are special lights all along it, sometimes making it look like snow is falling from the trees.  So beautiful.   And that is why I posted this card on this first Thursday in December. 


For more information about the avenue, more pictures and an almost identical postcard from 1890 see this link:

*When we got to the top of the Arc de Triomphe we were all directionally confused at first, so I hope this is facing east toward Place de la Concorde and apologize if it is not. 

As always, thank you to my friend for the card and for the translation.  Both are much appreciated.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

'Tis the season, cookies, 8

These cookies are for my European cousins and friends who have asked for a typical American cookie.  I make chocolate chip cookies at other times of the year but not necessarily at Christmas, however, they are about American as apple pie so here it is.  The recipe comes conveniently printed right on the bag of Nestle’s chips.

Chocolate Chip Cookies  (Toll House Cookies)

2 ¼ cups of flour
1-teaspoon baking soda
1-teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup brown sugar
1-teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups (12 oz. package) chocolate chips

Since many people have nut allergies I omit the nuts but if you like them and can eat nuts feel free to add:

1 cup chopped nuts (optional—recommended nuts are walnuts or pecans)

Cream the butter, sugars and vanilla.  Add the eggs, one at a time mixing well.  Next add the flour, salt, and soda (sifting together before adding to the butter mixture is also optional).   The final thing to add is the bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips (& nuts).  Stir together.  The dough should be fairly stiff.

Drop by spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake in a preheated 375 degree F oven for about 9 to 12 minutes or until crispy and brown.  This cookie is good as a soft cookie (bake less time) or a crisp cookie (bake longer).  I prefer the crispy cookie but some people really like them soft and the chocolate gooey (the chips melt a little during the baking).  Makes between 5 and 6 dozen medium sized cookies.


Last minute tip from a friend--try dusting the chips and/or nuts with flour before adding the flour to the wet mixtureThis is supposed to help keep the chips and nuts more evenly distributed in the dough. 

Friday, November 30, 2012

'Tis the season cookies, 7

These cookies are a little more trouble to make than the ones I put up last year.  It has been several years since I made them and I noticed this time that the chocolate didn’t taste as strong or as flavorful as I would like.   If you want a stronger chocolate bite I would recommend 1 ½ cubes of melted unsweetened chocolate instead of just one cube or perhaps even some chocolate extract.  The cookies look festive and that is a plus.   The downside is you have to roll the two pieces of dough carefully so that you get two layers of colors and not a mix that looks all one color like well used play dough .   A variation of this type of cookie is to use peppermint flavoring and red flood coloring in place of the chocolate.  Roll the two colors separately into multiple small “snakelike” tubes, twist pieces together to form candy cane shapes.   Definitely more work and as I have said before I am basically lazy so the pinwheels are just fine. 

Chocolate Pinwheels*

½ cup soft butter
¾ cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

Cream together.  Add:

1 ½ cup flour
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt

Mix until the dough is stiff and pulls from the side of the bowl.  [I use a wooden spoon and my hands to mix the dough many people prefer to use a heavy-duty mixer like a Kitchen Aid.]

Melt in a double boiler or in a single pan at very low heat
1 oz (1 square) unsweetened baking chocolate

Divide the dough into two equal parts.  Add the cooled, melted chocolate to one section.  Chill both parts until firm enough to roll out.

Roll between waxed paper or plastic wrap.  I roll both pieces together at once rather than trying to make equal sized rectangles and pressing together afterwards but that is a personal preference.  Once the light and dark pieces are rolled out and pressed together form into a jellyroll shape.  Wrap in plastic wrap and foil. Chill over night.  When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees F, cut the roll into approximately 1/8 inch slices and bake on ungreased cookie sheets for 10 to 12 minutes.  Makes about 3 to 4 dozen cookies.  These cookies can be frozen and keep well in a container. 


PS  I make a lot of cookies and my cookie sheets are old, well used, well loved and look the part!    I’m not apologizing.


* From:  Woman's Day Encyclopedia of Cookery, volume 3, page 434

Thursday, November 29, 2012

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 67

Norwegian postal stamps for 1990

Did you know that there are postcards with pictures of stamps on them?  These two postcards from Norway show the stamps issued in 1990 and 1992.  I do not know if they are part of an annual postcard series or just happened to be published these two years.  The 1992 postcard includes some stamps that were promoting Expo '92 and the Winter Olympic Games to be held in Lillehammer in 1994.  

The background photograph on the card above was taken or published by Knudsens fotosenter and shows Sognefjorden mot Nærøyfjorden. 

The background on the card below is of løvetann or dandelions and was photographed by Terje Hellesø.   We have dandelions here too and it was fun to see that this humble, hardy plant with the bright yellow flowers must be found in many different places around the globe.

I thought the stamps were pretty and since I had posted stamps from France it seemed like a good time to put up some from Norway also. 

Norwegian postal stamps for 1992

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Postcard Thursday, 66, Update

Today I received an email from Rune Jensen regarding the postcard that went up on the blog this past Thursday showing a group of people dressed in the costume from Setesdal.  He sent the photo and link above plus another link for other pictures of the costumes from this area in southern Norway.  One thing he mentioned that was very interesting is that while there are 19 counties or fylker in Norway there are 400 different designs for bunader.  I had wondered if there were variations within the counties and the answer is an emphatic, yes!  Nevertheless, there are strict regulations regarding the designs and colors to be used in all these costumes. 

As you notice the men’s bunad comes in basically two styles for this area, short trousers and long trousers, dark jacket and light jacket.  The light colored jacket looks like it is probably shorter in length than the dark jacket.  I personally like the dark jacket and short trousers with the nice high stockings, tassels, colored vest, and buckled shoes.  All versions have an attractive tie or cravat that compliments the ensemble.  Very handsome looking all of them.

Rune mentioned that he thought all the women's skirts except those from Setesdal are long but even the long ones had multiple underskirts.  Apparently there is a story about a woman who wore seven underskirts or “stakker” during an especially hard, cold winter to keep warm.  I think that seven underskirts might look a little bulky and be heavy as the material used for these skirts is usually wool.  He did say that everything has been sewn so nice that the different layers can be shown off for example when a woman has to lift her skirts while walking in the forest. 

Thank you Rune, as always for your comments and additions.

For more pictures of the costumes from southern Norway here is the second link:

Thursday, November 22, 2012

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 66

 Setesdal bunad

Usually the postcards depicting the Norwegian national costume or bunad show just the women but this one shows both women and men.  The card is from Axel Eliasson’s collection and has the number 5029.  It shows a group of “farmers” from the Setesdal region of southern Norway.  I have seen skirts like these with the bars of bright colors on the hemline fairly often but the bonnet is different from the more plain dark colored one and I do not think I have ever seen a photo showing the striped shawl. 

These lovely national costumes of Norway are many and varied.  With grandparents, great-grandparents and great-great grandparents coming from Hardanger, (Hordaland and Bergen), Setesdal (Aust and Vest Agder), Rogaland, Sogn og Fjordane and Telemark I think I can choose just about any one of those places for a bunad of my own.  But they are all so beautiful and slightly different that it is hard to know which one I might find as a favorite.  Mrs. Gimlet does Hardanger embroidery so for her the choice is simple, Hardangder it is.  She wants to do the embroidery work herself but patterns are not available in the United States so she will have to find someone in Norway to help out--a project for sometime in the future.  The red vests and dark skirts with the brilliant white Hardanger aprons are very striking.  We see quite a few of this popular style here in Seattle as there is a large Norwegian American contingent that had its origins in or near Bergen, Norway.  The photo of this woman wearing the Hardanger costume was taken at Yulefest last year.

Hardanger bunad

I rather like the crewel embroidery found on the Vest Agder and Telemark costumes and also the shawls from Vest Agder.   Pictured below is an especially lovely bunad, simple but with some color and one not as commonly seen here as the Hardanger costume.  Note the dark skirt has the colored bands at the hem similar to those on the postcards above and below as well as beautiful embroidery.  Rune tells me that he sews and graciously shared this photo of his lovely wife, Anne, wearing the Vest Agder costume.

Anne wearing the bunad from Vest Agder
[photo: courtesy of Rune Jensen]

The skirts on the Setesdal costume on the card at the top are actually double skirts as can be seen on the card below that shows a girl and boy.  The girl’s skirt has been lifted a bit on one side so we can see the underskirt with additional ribbons of contrasting color.  The dress looks more like a pinafore in both postcards.  The girl is wearing the style bonnet or scarf most often shown with this costume quite different from what the women are wearing in the top card.  The young man’s hat does not have the wide brim seen on the men above either.  His shoes have a green over piece while the men above are wearing plain shoes.  Another difference is the length of the skirt.  Most of the current costumes worn today have long skirts but this design on the postcards is knee or just below the knee length instead.  It made me wonder if perhaps there are additional small differences in the costumes within the areas too and not just between the various counties.  In the lower left corner of the card below is written Eneberettiet, J.F.  EFTF   That may be the publisher’s information. 



For more pictures of the  various Norwegian traditional costumes here is a link: