Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Dala Horse Post Cards

   I was so happy today that my dala horse post cards came back from the printer! These cards feature two of my own paintings with a blue and white dala and a pink and red dala. They are now available in my etsy shop!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!

May your day be filled with romance!

Glad Alla hjärtans dag!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Artist Spotlight: Woodland Jewelries

  Today I am so pleased to introduce you to a lovely young woman and talented jewelry maker, Delila of Woodland Jewelries. Originally from Finland, Delila recently moved to England to pursue her passion for plants and now works in a beautiful English garden. You can read all about her adventures in nature and jewelry making at her beautiful blog, The Acorn Gatherer. However, here on the blog she has come to visit with us and tell us about her beautiful creations, inspirations, and the things that she loves....

Name: Delila Jemaiel
Business: Woodland Jewelries

Tell us a little about yourself: 
I am a Finnish gardener and jewelry maker living in England. At the moment i am an trainee/worker at the magical Nymans garden. For many years i dreamed that i could live in England and that happened last autumn. In my free time i love to wander in the woods, be with the trees and observe nature. Beatrix Potter, Victorian era, tea, fairy tales,... are close to my heart also.

What inspires you to create your beautiful jewelry pieces? 
   The lovely woodland and forest creatures. Fairy tales, fairies and art inspire me also. Sometimes i may see a movie like a Bright Star or Miss Potter, which inspires me. Inspiration comes in phases, at some moments i may make a collection of jewelries with a same theme, like a twilight woodland. Seasons change the colors of my work. Sometimes i may see a photograph, or a painting which inspires me. But mostly i am inspired by the surrounding nature. 

How has moving from Finland to England influenced your art?   I make my jewelry in the same way I did before, but the themes may have changed. I am able to see deer here every time i wander in to the "deer woods", so the deer appear in my work all the time. I am inspired by the local flora and fauna... i would love to make jewelry with badgers on it! Some wild plants, which do not grow in Finland's nature inspire me: mistletoe, ivy, bluebell, snowdrop. 

What are your favorite things to create jewelry from? 

  Crocheting scalloped chains, Something i began to do two years ago- I still keep crocheting these chains. I have never been able to follow patterns, so i wanted to crochet something simple, which i could use on my jewelries. Making things of my own gives a more unique touches on to my work, like making air clay acorns and birds. I do love to sew and use ragged ribbons. I try to find a real looking nature themed brass charms, like deer's, squirrels and pine cones. Different beads like Picasso, Czech glass beads, semi precious stone nuggets. 

Do you have any special projects coming up for spring or for 2013 in general?    I am trying to learn how to crochet an oak leaves which i could use on my bracelets.
A few shops have been asking to sell my jewelries here on England, which is wonderful! Making the jewelries for the shops will begin soon. 

Travelling to the Lakes in this spring to see Beatrix Potter's Hill Top once again would be wonderful. It is one of the dearests places to me.


   Thanks so much Delila for taking the time to chat with us here about her beautiful creations! And please, take a moment to visit her blog and shop, to see what goodies you might like for yourself! All images used with the permission of Delila Jemaiel of Woodland Jewelries

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Nielsens & Olsons: Portrait of a Norwegian-American Family

Mikal Nilsen
 The following is a post written by contributor Winnie Nielsen. In it, she will trace the journey of her husband's Norwegian ancestors to America, and explore how they retained their Nowegian roots in some ways, and became American in others. She is also kind enough to share a family recipe with us! Thank you so much, Winnie!~

The Nielsens & Olsons

By Contributor Winnie Nielsen

    My husbands' Norwegian family story begins in Sandar Sondefjoprd, Norway with the marriage of Nils Andreasen and Maren Pedersdotter in 1852. They were a farming family and the 1875 record showed that the year produced 1/4 ton barley, 1 1/2 ton oats, and 3 tons of potatoes.   They had 6 children and their fifth son, Mikal Nilsen, was born in 1864.

Amunda Nilson
    Mikal Nilsen immigrated as a young man to American in March 1887 on the vessal named Thingvalla.  His passenger ticket was number 355 and they landed in April in New York City.  He worked as a laborer and went back in in 1894 and married  Amunda Anderson( born in Tonsberg, Norway in 1866).  He returned to American and she joined him one year later.  During the US census of 1910, both Mikal and Amunda were US citizens living in Brooklyn N.Y. Mikal was employed in an asbestos plant and they both could read, speak and write English.

Mikal and Amunda Nilsen and child

    Mikal and Amunda's seventh son was Arthur Nielsen.  Nilsen was changed to Nielsen when Mikal immigrated.    Arthur met and married Kathleen Olson in Brooklyn N.Y. in 1942 during World War II.

Marthilde Olson
    Kathleen, was from an immigrant Norwegian family who was also living in Brooklyn , N.Y.  Karl ( Haukas) Olson, born 1881, married Marthilde Gabrielle and they immigrated to Brooklyn N.Y. in 1905.  Karl named himself Charles (Charlie for short) here in the US.  He worked as a high skilled ship mechanic on boats in the New York Port.  Marthilda worked as a domestic for a wealthy  family.  Together they had two children: Kathleen and Oweida Ethel.
Charles Olson

Charles and Marthilde
    Kathleen and Arthur had two children : Warren Charles and Susan Lynn.  Arthur served in the US Navy in the Pacific during WWI and was a career enlisted man residing most of their married life in Norfolk, Virginia.  Kathleen stayed at home while her children were small but eventually entered the workforce in office support roles.

    Like many Norwegian immigrant families, the Nilsens and the Olsons, came here to seek a better life with the many work and life opportunities that were not available to them in Norway.  They were regarded in the US as  hard working and highly skilled. They  banded together in the Brooklyn ,N.Y,  Norwegian community supporting one another and helping new family members come and get established. They worked hard to learn the language and American way of life.     
      By the time Kathleen and Arthur grew up, they did not speak Norwegian and were fully   westernized with friends and life in American public schools.  They saw themselves as Americans first and Norwegian second.  Warren's family grew up on the naval base in Virginia and the traditions of the Old Country became more faint as the years passed.  But true to many second and third generation Norwegians, what did survive were favorite recipes.  Marthilda was known for her delicious waffles, which were made with lots of eggs and fresh ground cardamon.  Kathleen carried on that tradition with her grandchildren and whenever she visited, she made Nana Olson's waffles.  My children loved them as well as their cousins. 
Kathleen and Arthur with their children

Nana Olson's Waffle recipe here:

2 C regular flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp ground cardamon
1/4 C melted butter
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 - 3/4 cup milk or enough for a thick batter depending on the size of your eggs.

Mix all ingredients together and cook in a waffle maker till golden brown.  Serve immediately with butter and warm syrup. Delicious!!

   America was the melting pot for so many countries.  Scandinavian immigrants took many pathways to a new life here.  Some went west to homestead on the prairie while others congregated in cities and applied their skills to the labor force.  Today, they look back with pride at what their great grandfathers and grandmothers did to make life better for themselves and their children.  The joined the many other immigrants who helped build this nation and shared their love of their homeland with neighbors and friends.  For the third generation family of these Norwegian immigrants, I would say they sweetened the effort one delicious waffle at a time!

Art on Display

  Hello there, my friends!~
   Just wanted to pop by and let you know that I have many pieces of my original art plus some prints now on display and ready to buy at Shades of Brown Coffee and Art in Tulsa, Okla. This includes many of my Scandinavian themed pieces such as The Norwegian Bride, Lars, and Deep in the Winter Wood. If you're in the area, I'd love for you to stop by! And get one of their amazing coffees while you're at it!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Book Review: Keeping Christmas, Yuletide Traditions in Norway and the New Land

   Written by Contributor 
Winnie Nielsen

    I have been joining Heather this past Christmas season with some reading on Scandinavian culture.  Since my husband is 100% Norwegian, I decided to read Keeping Christmas: Yuletide Traditions in Norway and the New Land  written by Kathleen Stokker.  The book was full of the historical Christmas celebration in the Old Country, and how it was changed by immigrants coming to America as they blended in with their new surroundings.

     Christmas was primarily  a religious celebration.  It was comprised of a special meal on Christmas Eve with specific prayers, the reading of Bible verses, and singing of hymns.  The meal was celebratory and followed by the opening of a few  handmade gifts.  

      The celebration included many special foods spread on the table dressed in the best tablecloth available. It was the true smorgasbord which everyone looked forward too.The family gathered round together to hear the traditional readings and sing together while savoring the bounty of special dishes reserved for the occasion.  Christmas Day was celebrated with a traditional early morning  trip to church for a special service.

     The Norwegians spent the late fall months, following the harvest, with preparing for the Christmas Eve celebration. Chores included the butchering of hogs( for the traditional roast pork dinner and special sausages), the making of plenty of candles from the tallow, the brewing of homemade beer, and  right before Christmas, a thorough cleaning of the home from top to bottom.  Right before Christmas Eve, special curtains or wall hangings were then placed, fresh straw was laid on the floor, a special tablecloth was laid on the table,  and early in the day of December 24, everyone received a hot bath and was scrubbed from head to toe.  Then,  new fresh clothes were put on for the special Christmas Eve celebrations.  Cleanliness was considered mandatory to prepare for the feast and most important celebration of the year. Early celebrations did not include a Christmas Tree. 
      Christmas trees came to Norway and to the US from immigrants of German descent.  Original celebrations were focused on the religions traditions, the special foods,  a few  homemade knitted gifts, or  sometimes  small children were given handcrafted toys made out of wood or a cloth doll for a girl.
Norwegian winter post card, SOURCE

      Christmas Day, after church, was a time  to visit with friends or receive friends at home.  Sharing coffee and special cookies and other foods were important as a way to show appreciation and thanks to neighbors and friends.

    Norwegians also had a custom called Julebukking,   which reminded  me of our Halloween traditions. The week after Christmas , people dressed up in scary costumes and went from door to door seeing if people could identify them. Those who played along invited the dressed friends inside for cookies and other treats.  Sometimes the Julebukking ended up in mischief and Americans found the tradition distasteful.  They pushed back on the immigrants with such disfavor that the tradition was dropped as fewer and fewer people participated or were unwelcomed in neighborhoods.  What was interesting to me was how superstitious the Norwegians were about Christmas. 

    Like early Halloween and Samhain celebrations, people worried about evil spirits troubling them on Christmas Eve and special efforts were taken to appease spirits who might be about the home and farm.  For Norwegians, Christmas Eve was the time when the veil between the living and the dead was the thinnest.  Julebukking was the effort to make fun of and taunt others about lurking unwanted spirits at their doors!  In addition to wandering sprits, appeasing the "Nisse" who lived on the farm, was also important. Nissen, the legendary elves, were thought to live among the farms and were responsible for ensuring that nothing bad happened to the animals or the farm.  They did, however, expected a Christmas treat in return for their services,  so a bowl of Christmas Porridge (flotegrot) was always promptly left out on Christmas Eve.

     As the tradition of the Christmas Tree grew in favor with Americans, it became part of the celebrations at churches and schools.  Norwegian children, who attended the public schools, were exposed to the growing favorite tradition.  Since schools were so central to immigrant communities, the annual school Christmas pageant, became an important holiday tradition to the families.  The pagent included  a big Christmas tree and all the children received a little gift at the end of the school program.    Lutheran churches also added  a celebration at the home of the pastor around a big Christmas Tree as part of the festivities.  By the time of World War I, Christmas trees were becoming important in the pageantry and the immigrants found that they were something worth adding to the traditions of the Old World.  The children really pushed the idea of a tree at home as well.

     The idea of Santa Claus entered the American scene in 1834 with the famous poem of The Night Before Christmas.  Again, the idea of children getting gifts that had to be bought in stores was alien to Norwegian immigrant thinking. Norwegians held fast that the primary focus of Christmas should be the Old World traditions of the  prayers, hymns, and foods of the Christmas Eve celebration.  Slowly, however, as children were more exposed to American traditions in their schools and churches, and once married moved away from the farms to cities, the acceptance and embracing of store bought gifts and Santa Claus became woven into their own family celebrations.

      World War II, brought a huge surge of patriotism in the US and immigrants joined in to embrace the efforts and wanted to be seen as patriotic in their new land.  With that came even more acceptance of the American way of life and families were less inclined to stress speaking and acting in ways that separated them from other Americans.  

   And in Europe, with the Nazi 5 year occupation of Norway, German Christmas customs of Advent Calendars and Christmas trees saturated the cultural markets resulting in more Norwegians adding those traditions to the traditional ones.

     It seems that as the immigrants melted into the melting pot of America, the Christmas traditions that were most preserved were those of serving special foods.  In the early 1970s, young people wanted to know more about their roots and selected those traditions from the Old Country that seemed best for them.  There was a resurrection of the popularity of Lutefisk, special breads and cookies, and the singing of old hymns again.  Families added these elements back into their existing American Christmas traditions to teach their children about their Norwegian heritage.  Today, immigrant communities share Lutefisk dinners, St. Lucia festivals, and bakeries full of long time favorite cookies like Pepperkakor, Sandbakkels, KrumKake, and Julebrot.

      Keeping Christmas is a fascinating read about the immigrant experience of finding a new home in America while striving to maintain the pride of their Norwegian heritage. It was not an easy transition and many immigrants moved to the unsettled prairies of Kansas , Oklahoma, Nebraska and Iowa to homestead. They endured many hardships of getting established and growing sustainable communities.  Christmas was the one celebration that brought everyone together in thanksgiving to celebrate their heritage. In enjoying the Old World traditions, a much needed winter respite occurred.  The sharing of familiar foods and traditions renewed their ties to one another and lifted their spirits that coming to America was worth the hard work and leap of faith that was taken to leave their beloved Norway.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Dala Horse Art

I thought I'd share with you my little dala horse paintings! My plan is to make a card set out of these designs. I've had so much fun thinking up different ways of decorating the dalas, and the blue and white one was inspired by my love of blue and white dishes. I've always loved drawing and painting twisting vines, curly ques and graduating dots. I was so pleasantly surprised to discover that all of these motifs I've been doodling for years are all strong design elements in Scandinavian folk art.

I'll be sure to share here when I get the postcards made, and perhaps some prints. I think these dalas will be perfect for spring!~