Thursday, October 6, 2016

A Norwegian Birthday Party

Greetings  my dear blog friends.  I hope your week has been going well.  My week started off attending a birthday party on Monday for my dear friend Laila.  Laila is the cultural director for my local lodge of Daughters of Norway.

Gerd from our lodge hosted the party for Laila.  She had her house all decked out with the Norwegian flag along with our American flag.
The table(s) were set beautifully in anticipation of the guests arriving.  I love the Norwegian napkins as they add a special touch to the setting.
Laila was seated at this special table setting since it was her day to celebrate.  All who attended brought a dish to share for the potluck luncheon.  It was so nice to be together with friends and enjoy our afternoon.
Before the birthday cake was cut, we (all) sang this Norwegian birthday song.  It's a good thing that we have quite a few members from Norway whose first language is Norwegian!  Our lodge is planning on having Norwegian lessons for us other members.  It should be a fun adventure.
Ta Dah!  The special marzipan birthday cake.  It was layer cake filled with whipped cream and marzipan; heavenly.
And, to add to the festivities, Astrid, one of our dear members made this kransekake cake.  Someone had already nibbled a piece from the top!
Laila enjoyed opening her gifts.  Her favorite color is turquoise hence the wrappings.
And, here's the birthday girl opening her gifts.  Isn't that plant beautiful?  It was one of her gifts, too.
This is one of the gifts Laila received.  It's a handmade art card featuring hardanger embroidery.  This type of embroidery is very traditional in the Scandinavian countries.  It employs counted thread and drawn thread, usually white thread on white even weave fabric.   This lovely piece was made by Bonnie, one of our members.  Bonnie is so talented in this type of needlework. 

Maybe some of you are wondering about Daughters of Norway?  I'd love to share a few things about this group...

1.  The mission of the group is to unite into a sisterhood those who wish to preserve their Norwegian* heritage.
2.  The organization was started in 1905 with the first three lodges being in Washington state.  There were a lot of Norwegians who immigrated to western Washington at the end of the 19th century/beginning of the 20th century as there was waterways and they were experts in this field.
3.  In those early days, the lodge meetings were held speaking Norwegian.  It's quite fascinating to see how things changed as the years went by.  Today, we have many Norwegian/Americans whose grandparents immigrated from Norway.
4.  The Daughters of Norway are a vibrant and growing organization with over 1,600 members nationwide.  New members are joining monthly and lodges are continuing to be formed.
5.  If you are interested in learning about a lodge in your area, please check out their list of lodges. 

*As you may already know, I'm not Norwegian but Danish.  Lucky for me, the Daughters of Norway embrace all with Scandinavian heritage.  

As I think back about this organization, I find it quite fascinating that well over 100 years later, this group that began back in 1905 is still flourishing.  I'm also a member of the Danish Sisterhood of America.   The lodge closest to where I live meets about 60 miles away so I have not been able to attend since moving to California.  The Danish Sisterhood has similar beginnings at the end of the 19th century.  And, they too are still growing and thriving; getting new members every month.

I hope you have enjoyed this little glimpse into my Scandinavian clubs.  I grew up in a Danish farming community and after getting married, I moved to a "new" area where there were no immigrant families.  I missed my Danish heritage.  When I moved to western Washington about 20 years ago, I found these two organizations and they have brought back so many wonderful memories for me as well as increasing my knowing of my Scandinavian heritage.

Thank you for visiting today and I wish you all the best!

With my best wishes,

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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Bois Blanc Island Retreat

Hello my dear readers.  I'm back home after being away for awhile.  Would you like to join me for a journey to a magical place?  Please come along . . .

I traveled to Troy, Michigan where I met my sister-in-law, Lynda,  and together we made our way to Cheboygan, Michigan, on the shores of Lake Huron.  
We were joined by seven of my dear SIL friends as we boarded the ferry Kristen to take us across Lake Huron to the magical island of Bois Blanc in the straights of Mackinac.  Pictured from left are Gail, Susan, Me, Lynda, Lisa, Gale, Henny, Pat & Lindsay.
As we made our way out of the port, we crossed under a bascale bridge that opened to allow our ferry boat to pass under.
Just as we were making out way onto the main body of the lake, this quaint lighthouse greeted us.  It's about a 40 minutes crossing from Cheboygan to Bois Blanc Island.  The waters of Lake Huron are so clear and lovely.
 Upon our arrival at Bois Blanc Island, this little sign at the ferry terminal greeted us.  The locals call this island Bob Lo.
Those of you who read my blog regularly, know that I am partial to trees and pristine natural settings.  I really think Bois Blanc Island is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited.  It's a sparsely populated island; so pristine in it's natural setting.
Our destination on the island was Insel Haus where we would be partaking in a three day knitting seminar.  What could be more fun than knitting?
I love this welcome sign in German.  There's a reason for this as our gracious host, Christa is from Germany.
The owners of Insel Haus and our gracious hosts were Christa and Shelby Newhouse.  They have worked years on this stunning property and it's not only beautiful, in a lovely setting but the interior is like a museum with so many beautiful furnishings.
My sister-in-law and I shared a lovely room with a view onto the water.  Each morning we were there, we were greeted by deer.  Deer are such endearing, lovely creatures (although they do like to eat garden plants . .)
After we were assigned our rooms (this 7,800 sq. ft. inn has something like 11 bedrooms and 9 1/2 baths!), we got started with our knitting.  Christa is a world renowned fiber artist.  One of her specialties is double knitting.  Some of her work is shown in this photo.
Our knitting retreat was centered on lace knitting.  Christa had pre-ordered for each of us a lovely spool of 100% natural silk yarn.  We had numerous patterns to chose from with intricacy  ranging from a 4 four row repeat to 52 row repeat.  I chose the four row repeat and I was not disappointed.  This silk yarn is heaven to knit with.
 Christa designs all of her patterns and it was amazing to see some of her work.  The book pictured above was her inspiration for the lace workshop she taught us.  Some of these pattern designs date back to the mid 19th century.  Being a history buff, the pattern I chose was from 1843.
This was the first retreat I ever took part in and I must say, I was thoroughly spoiled.  The tranquil setting, the lovely home and the delicious food topped off with knitting made me feel like I was in heaven.  My sister-in-law, Lynda, who is a superb knitter, enjoyed her time as well.  You can see a bit of Christa's immense antique collection in this photo.
We basically retired to our rooms each evening to sleep as otherwise, we were busy knitting away in some quaint corner of this large B & B.  I was so intrigued by this painting that hangs on the wall.  I believe it is of the dowager empress of China; supposedly a very unkind ruler.  Christa and Shelby have a large collection of far eastern antiquities.
Can you imagine the fun and conversation that us nine ladies had during these three days?
 This was the third time my sister-in-law had been to the island.  She is Michgan born and raised.  I've been a few times to Michigan.  The last time a few years ago when we went to the most eastern part of the upper peninsula.  But, Bois Blanc Island is by far my favorite place in the beautiful, picturesque state of Michigan.
As our retreat was drawing to a close, the last night we sat under a gazebo on the shores of Lake Huron and enjoyed a camp fire while watching the sun set.
Just look at this photo; have you ever seen such a beautiful sight?  It was truly magical being in this place.  
Another magical photo of nature's painting.
As the sun tucked itself in for the night, this colorful pink sky appeared.
Our last morning on the island soon arrived and it was time for us to take the ferry back to the mainland.
On our way back into the dock, we passed this U.S. Coast Guard ship.
It's an icebreaker, ready to take it's place for winter's work.  The ferry does not run in the winter, as the lake freezes over.  If you want to get off the island or onto the island, you will need to take an airplane.  I understand from the locals, that if there is sufficient ice, you can take an "ice road" across the lake on your snowmobile!

I hope you have enjoyed going on this amazing journey with me.  I found out a few things about Bois Blanc Island that I thought you might enjoy; here are five of them:

1. Bois Blanc translates to "white wood" in French.  There are numerous white bark birch trees throughout the area.
2.  The island is 12 miles long by six miles wide.
3.  There are no paved roads on the island except the paved landing strip at the Bois Blanc Island Airport.
4.  Bois Blanc Island didn't have electricity until 1964!
5.  Detroit, Michigan is approximately 310 miles south of Bois Blanc Island.

I'm so thankful for having this wonderful opportunity to meet new friends, experience a new place and have a wonderful time.  Hot temps greeted me upon to my return to southern California.  Still no rain :(  Thank you so much for taking time to visit with me today and I always love reading your comments.  

With my Best Wishes,

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Thursday, September 8, 2016

A Glimpse of Barcelona and Yarn

Hello my friends.  I hope you had a lovely Labor Day holiday.  Can you believe that summer is almost over and that fall is on it's way?  Back in July, I was in Barcelona, Spain for a few days.  My sister-in-law, who is an avid knitter, wanted to visit a yarn shop.  We found via Google a shop named All you Knit is Love.  

If you ever happen to visit Barcelona, this shop is so easy to find. It is located at Carrer de la Barra de Ferro which is a street that branches off from the street where the Picasso Museum is located.  If you put your back against the entrance to the museum and look straight ahead, you will find this quaint, little, gothic street.  As you can see, it is a well stocked yarn shop with many delightful wooly things to choose from . . .

I loved this knitted shawl that was in the window.  The use of the different yarns and their textures really add to it's loveliness.  The yarn shop is owned by an American lady and her Catalan husband. . .

Here's a photo of my sister-in-law, Linda, chatting with designer who is Greta and the Fibers. If you look towards the back of this photo, you will see the natural, undyed yarn that she is preparing to dye.  I bought two different skeins of her hand dyed yarn. The shop had such a special feel with the exposed brick walls and antique lighting. . .

I knew exactly how I was going to use my new yarn.  Awhile back I joined the Shawl Society which is a subscription to six shawl patterns; one released each month for six months.  I was thrilled to receive pattern #2 while I was in Turkey and use my new Spanish yarn.  The pattern is called Amulet.

The Spanish yarn knit up beautifully.  I so enjoyed knitting the lace section and there was also an addition of Czech glass beads that I added throughout the shawl.  Helen Stewart is the very talented designer behind the Shawl Society.  I had gradually gotten into lace knitting but I don't do charts.  Lucky for me, Helen's patterns are both written and charted so no problems there!

It was my third time to visit Barcelona and that beautiful city never disappoints. I love the architecture and the little streets that weave in and out.  We found a cute little place, Brunells, on the same street corner to pop in for an Iberian ham sandwich, Catalan pastries and some coffee.  

I'm so excited as I am going to be attending a knitting retreat with my sister-in-law.  I'm a self taught knitter, way before there was any internet.  I bought myself a Coats and Clark's Learn to Knit booklet back in the early 1970's;  I still have this book!  Since I moved to California six years ago, I've really tried to step out of my comfort zone and learn some new knitting techniques.  I think you could say that I'm addicted to Ravelry!

The retreat is going to be held on Bois Blanc Island in the upper peninsula of Michigan.  I've been to the UP before, but never to Bois Blanc Island.  The weather there looks heavenly with cool temps and rain.  What better way than to spend my day in glorious rain clouds with my knitting needles in hand!  I remember years ago when I was young and working at the bank in our small town.  We had a piece of returned mail from the post office.  It was addressed to Sault Ste. Marie and had been returned and stamped with something like ". . .weather. . .ferry service cancelled . . ."  Looking back, I think it may have been sent to Sugar Island in the UP where they receive tons of snow being on the St. Marys River.  This place sounded so exotic compared to the flat, farmland area of where I was living at the time!

I hope you dear readers are all doing well.  I always enjoy reading your comments and I will do my best to visit your blogs, too. Thank you for visiting Lilly My Cat today!

With my best to you,

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Thursday, September 1, 2016

Spice of Life - Foods of Turkey

Greetings my dear friends (and new readers, too).  Today's post is going to be about food.  Lovely, colorful, tasty, Turkish Food.  My dear daughter told me I should write about different port cities, sights, landmarks, etc., and I may in the future, but I thought I'd spice it up a bit and talk about food!  I love to eat delicious food and make delicious food.  So, here are some photos of some great Turkish food from my last trip to Turkey in July . . .

We arrived in our seaside town the first part of July during the Ramazan festivities.  Corn was in season and on the way to our home this guy had set up a roadside roasted corn stand.  We stopped a couple of times and bought delicious, warm, roasted corn.  He wrapped it oh so carefully and even included some wet wipes to clean our hands!
We always look forward to going to the weekly farmers market.  Every Thursday the vendors set up their wares in the small streets behind one of the big grocery stores.  Since we know the area and know where to park, we love to venture to this market each week.  I've never seen such a  huge selection of fruits and vegetables as in the Turkish market.  It reminds me of all the years I used to visit Pike Place Market in Seattle.
We had very warm temps this year in July and it seemed even warmer at the market stalls.  My husband loves to bargain (it's in his blood), and he made friends with one of the fruit sellers. 
Turkey has an array of wonderful breads.  One afternoon we went downtown to do some banking/business.  We decided to eat lunch at one of the "tourist" restaurants.  We usually like to find places off the beaten path, but it was a warm day and we were hungry.  We chose a corner restaurant and we were not disappointed when this bread suddenly appeared, hot from the oven!
My husband always like to order adana kabob, but I love Turkish Pide or Turkish pizza.  This one is topped with seasoned ground beef which was spiced just perfect on a warm, hot, crusty base.
We are lucky that we have some large grocery stores in Alanya.  We were shopping at Carrefour and found this lovely lady making Gozleme in the bakery department!  We had tried this delicous hand rolled pastry that is stuffed with oil and herbs at the farmers market but we were surprised to find it at the bakery.  Of course, we bought a couple of gozleme hot off the grill and enjoyed them when we returned home.
I know I've shared this before, but experiencing a Turkish breakfast is a must when you come to Turkey.  This is our "breakfast" at our favorite little restaurant tucked up on the mountain.  Most of the items have been homemade by the restaurant owner.  And, of course, endless glasses of Turkish tea!
If you're not a tea drinker then you can try Turkey's Efes beer.  This year at the beach they served it to me in a glass with ice.  It was delicious and so cooling under the hot rays of sunshine.
And, if beer is not to your liking, there are many coffee/tea shops in Turkey, including Starbucks.  But, I'm not a Starbucks person really.  Being from the Seattle area, when coffee shops first took hold they were classy places with coffee served in proper cups.  Sadly many of the coffee houses have gone by the wayside.  My OCD really gets me going when I go into a Starbucks and see the overflowing trash, paper cups, napkins, etc., all every which way.  Here comes Roberts Coffee to the rescue.  It's a classy, beautifully decorated coffee house in Alanya.  I could spend the whole day there.
 On the last day of our trip, we decided to try a new restaurant down on the waterfront.  The seafood salad was delicious and the view was even better.

I love trying different foods and places.  Sadly, I don't have a photo of our favorite place called Simitci where we can enjoy coffee, tea, pastries, or sweets while sitting at their sidewalk cafe and people watching.  

Turkey is a vast country with a huge array of agricultural products that they produce.  I found it quite interesting that the following are some of their largest exports:

1.  Refined sunflower oil (Turkey #1 exporter)
2.  Hazelnuts (Turkey #1 exporter)
3.  Raisins (Turkey #1 exporter)
4. Poultry
5. Pasta (Turkey took over market in Africa)

I hope you have enjoyed another glimpse into this fascinating country.  Please feel free to share what you have been busy with as I'd love to hear from you.  Until next time. . .

My Best Wishes,

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P.S.  I finished knitting my Amulet Shawl - Hooray!  I'll share a photo of it with you another time. 

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Summer is Winding Down

I can feel the fall in the air these past couple of days.  We have had such lovely, moderate weather although they are predicting a couple of more days of hot temps.  Summer will soon be over and it's been a enjoyable time here at Lilly My Cat.  I thought I'd share some random photos of what's been happening around here. . .

My daughter sent me this photo today of this little deer she saw on her walk this morning.  We do have deer in the hills around us and it always bring a smile to my face when I see one of these beautiful creatures. . .
Speaking of beautiful creatures, Lilly my cat keeps us entertained.  She's a joy to have around and although she hasn't caught any geckos lately, she's been busy hunting them.  My heartfelt sympathy goes out to two dear blog friends who have recently lost their beloved pets. . .
This knitting project has really "consumed" my life so to speak.  I'll soon be done with this shawl and all the fussy stitches and hand beading.  I'm excited to see how it will look when completed.  I'll hopefully share a photo when that happens. . .
Here is little Sadie wearing the dress I knit for her awhile back. It fits her perfect! I enjoyed designing the colors and embellishments for this little knit. . .
We meet up with my daughter and her family for an evening picnic at Laguna Beach.  It's a short drive away from where we live and always a fun time to be had. . .
 We were invited to a friends home for dinner this past week.  I wanted to take something to share and made this baba au rhum.  It's such an easy cake to make.  The recipe is from Ina Garten's "Barefoot in Paris".  Here's a link to this recipe.  I love all of Ina's recipes as they are spot on . . .

Yes, summer time is winding down but soon the holidays will be fast approaching.  I've already started on my menu planning for our Christmas celebrations.  Next month I'll be off to a knitting workshop on Bois Blanc Island in Michigan.  I can hardly wait!  Take care dear friends and I'd love to hear what you been doing this summer.

With my best wishes,