Fredrik met Santa at the Forest City Stockade Pioneer Christmas and it was pretty reminiscent of last year's visit, but this time he shouted " 'Lectric A-tar!" This is what he wants for Christmas, and boy, he really really wants it. I'm a little nervous that he isn't going to like any of his other gifts until he gets this one, but he has to wait for Santa to bring it... We've been trying to use the whole "making a list and checking it twice" when he is misbehaving but he just gets really hyped up about Santa. The other day I sat with him while he tried (for over an hour) to fall asleep and asked him what was wrong. He told me that he was too excited about Santa and presents to sleep. I think that was on Dec. 2nd. This poor kid isn't going to get any sleep during Christmas week. AND, I'm getting pretty tired of talking about Santa.

On Thanksgiving Day my aunt set the stage for lefse making AND gluten free lefse making. Here's my big sister Amy rolling some of it. It went ok. I really didn't do a great job with the recipe. I forgot my potato ricer (which has play-dough stuck in it) and then misread the part about chilling the mixture before adding the TWO CUPS of heavy cream. Still, it rolled out well. Transferring it to the griddle was a challenge, without gluten it just broke where it hung from the lefse stick. Still, we came out with a pile of decent looking pieces. The texture was pretty doughy. It was like flattened dough that was warmed on the outsides. Even with butter and sugar it tasted pretty weird. Then, it seemed to congeal back into a ball of dough in my stomach. I thought it might be better after it chilled, but, alas, it became the merry treat of some dogs that snuck into the box where it was being stored in my in-laws chilly garage. Oh well, maybe I'll try it again in the coming weeks.
Next on the list, macaroons. I used this recipe from Martha. Apparently they are called Fraser Bells, as real macaroon are those little egg-white fluffed meringue sandwich cookies. I like these. I don't know if I used this method last year, but sweetened condensed milk certainly made this recipe easy and tasty. Freddy helped, he made some mini cookies and thought of adding sprinkles. He loves sprinkles.
Thirdly, we tried toffee. Here Peter is the designated stirrer. I didn't have a candy thermometer, but Target had this deep-fat-fryer/candy thermometer that I decided would be pretty necessary in making candy. It burned a little because of the spot under the (very large) thermometer not really allowing stirring to occur right there. The slightly burned flavor is delicious, as are the almonds, chocolate chips, and pecans. This treat is hiding in the basement in a sealed tupperware. The caramel/toffee mixture was not adequate in volume to cover the pan, so I think I will do a 1 1/2 batch next time.

We get our tree soon which is exciting and space-consuming.

Also, I have decided to run a last minute pre-holiday sale. Well, it will probably be going on post-holiday as well. With coupon code "swirling2010" you will get 10% off your order! Yay! I will do another post about it later since this is at the end of a very wordy post. I have done some etsy shopping of my own and am excited to wrap up all the goodies being delivered to my door.



FREE SHIPPING on all items this Black Friday-Cyber Monday.

That's the 26th-29th.

I hope to get all of my work into my shop by then, but these next few days are jam-packed with the holiday rush at the co-op, pretending to be a woman involved in a Porsche lawsuit for a mock trial, lots of driving in bad weather, holiday prepping...and of course, Thanksgiving.

I really couldn't fit much more into this week, so I think I will just keep moving forward and hope for the best! No worries!



I just figured out how to include a tiny version of an etsy treasury in my blog. If you have not used the etsy treasury function yet, you can try it here. It's a little hard to just browse etsy sometimes. When you are shopping in a real-life store it's fun to just saunter around, but etsy is just so big and it's hard to think of keywords for searches all the time. Treasuries are made my etsy users. I was lucky to be included in this fun treasury today (you can click on any item to bring you to Etsy):

'future is' by RedBracelet


La Nube Necklace

Vintage Porcelain O...

Trick or Treat // R...

Rich Brown Woven Ba...

Pewter Hammered Chu...

Autumn Flowers skir...

Romantic OOAK beaut...

Neckwarmer fingerl...


Happily Ever After ...

White gold spinner ...

Floral Multicolor B...

Repurposed Leather ...

Small Silkscreened ...

design handmade dou...

Maine road map--ori...

Generated using Treasury HTML code generator by Whale Shark Websites.



What a pile of snow. Sheesh. It was late this year, but it still shocked all of us weathered Minnesotans. I have to admit, I felt a little trapped and even made a slushy trip to the closest grocery store to get some provisions - as if we didn't have enough food in our house to get through 24 hours. The weather just left me feeling a little murky. I blame the darkness for that, too. No wonder we get into the holiday spirit so early around here, we need some bright lights and merry-making to pull us through. I mean, the snowman photo was taken in the middle of the day and it's pretty dim out there. The endless weather talk on the radio told me that November is the dreariest month. SO, after Christmas we have the bitter cold, yet cheerfully sunny, month of January to look forward to. Until then, it's eggnog time. Wahoo!

And shopping time, too!

The sale at the Skating Center went well despite the weather. First it was TOO warm and then it was TOO snowy (according to the buzz at the show), but really, there were big crowds almost every day and my load was much lighter when I packed up my goods on Sunday.

Still, I really produced a lot of books in the past few months and I spent two hours this morning taking photographs for Etsy. I will be adding an item or three every day for the next few weeks so keep checking by, y'all!

I have some journals to add, and many albums of many sizes. I also made some leather book keychains. And more brag books, which I'm thinking I will soon be done with. I have made hundreds of them and I think that is plenty.


A Darn Nice Squash

So, there I was working at my Co-op job a month or so ago, helping one of my favorite local growers, Wheatfield Hill Organics, unload a mound of pumpkins. Among the pumpkins was this beauty of a squash that I at once swiped. The farmer told me it was a Long Island Cheese Wheel squash but I think it may have been a Muscade de Provence - both varieties I have admired in the Seed Savers catalog in the past and I was very excited to try one. Weighing in at 17 pounds it was HUGE and I couldn't wait to get it home as a lovely object d'art. As you can see by the picture it was quite sizeable:

Last week it started to seep sugar around the stem. It was time to cook it.

It was super orange inside, and oh so full of flesh. It took about 2 hours to bake the pieces and they barely all fit into my oven. It yielded 23 cups of sweet sweet puree. That's almost enough for 12 pies.
It was a bit stringy but the cusinart took care of that. I froze most of it for later use and made some of it into a crustless pumpkin pie...which is maybe more accurately described as a pumpkin custard. It turned out very orange, like a carrot pie, and I swear it has a bit of carrot flavor but maybe that's just my eyes playing a trick on my brain.
I used the Joy of Cooking recipe and a Clay Coyote Cazuela Pot (A great gift for the foodie in your life...a clay pot that can be used on the stove as well as in the oven).



A nice little clip of our little banjo player singing Abiyoyo, a Pete Seeger story/song. I love how he's trying to modulate his voice to match the banjo. What a sweetie.


God Jul

My work is still being shown at Peggy's Holiday Boutique at the Roseville Skating Center through Sunday, November 14th. This leaves my Etsy shop a little empty for the next week, but I'm excited to add my new God Jul notecards and a few other new things as I find time to be in my studio.

God Jul is Swedish, or course, for Merry Christmas.

I drew these three illustrations to send out as cards this year and you can do the same if you would like. They make dandy framed Jul decor as well.

The straw horse, dala horse, and heart cookie worked well on the gingerbready craft paper. They come with craft paper envelopes as well.

These notecards are featured in a darling cozy wonderful holiday treasury right now. This is a fun treasury so be sure to click on the link!

My mom always makes the classic gingerbread hearts with frosting lining the border, they are hung on the cookie tree with glee. Not having a photo of her cookie tree I found one online for sale from Fforests Fancies: It would be a fun thing to make, don't ya think?


Round and Round

The time of eating and merry-making is upon us and I am pumped. It's always around this time that my brain starts working overtime thinking about all the creations I want to make for the holidays. I'm talking mostly edibles, but some gift ideas have sprung up as well. I think it's the sweetest feeling this time of the year to list all of my to-dos. In just a few weeks I'll be up to my eyeballs in work and the weekends will fill with parties and my list will be modified time after time, so I best enjoy the idea of all these snacks right now.

So, in case anyone in the world wants to know what is on my list today, I will share it. I usually go for candy as cookies are in well supply in my family. Plus, candy is usually gluten-free and oh so very naughty.

1. Toffee. A darling story next to a simple recipe in the last edition of the Co-op Mix periodical has me convinced that toffee is a must-have this year.

2. Macaroons. The cakey kind. I made some like these:last year and they were super super good. I have no idea what recipe I used so we'll see what happens.

3. Gluten-free lefse. I miss lefse. Do fresh homemade corn tortillas with melted butter and sugar on them taste like lefse? SORT OF, at least the butter and sugar part. This will, by far, be the most challenging task of the season. I considered making it the past couple years but didn't get much further than some online research. Perhaps this or this or this very long-winded account will lead to success.

4. Turtles. This is becoming a staple since I made a batch with my friend Heather in high school. It's easy. I'll probably just make an itty bitty batch.

5. Peanut Butter Cups. I already know I will probably not make these but I just know my hub would love them. I have made them before. They are good. I mean, you mix peanut butter with butter and cover it with chocolate. Hello!

That's the sweets. They will be a nice addition to Christmas, and Solstice, and Lille Julaften, and all the rest.

On the less-sweet note we will be assisting once again with potato sausage and beer making this year - I even hear talk of a gluten-free home brew. Wow. We've got a pile of buckwheat groats and sorghum syrup in our fridge waiting for the big brew day.

I guess all of this holiday prep makes the dark days go faster. Not that I've noticed time moving slow ever in my life, but still, being stuck inside just makes you want to plan a party. Well, I better go cook some squash for "pumpkin" pie and think about what I'm going to make for Thanksgiving.

What are others thinking about making this year? Anything new?


Fall/Holiday Calendar

It's that time of year again!
There are gallery open houses, art crawls, and shows happening all over. I will have some of my Swirling Tree work at two events this fall.

I opted to limit my shows to just two so I can keep my etsy shop well stocked. I'm feeling good with my inventory levels and trying to finish up a few loose ends for my first show this coming weekend in Dassel, MN with Levandowski Pottery. Stop by if you can! It will be a good show, they are unveiling their new gallery and five guest artists (including moi) will be peddling their wares.

Next on the agenda is Peggy's at the Roseville Skating Center November 6-14. This is a fantastic show with loads of artwork. Come and fill a basket with wonderful creative goodness. I did a lot of my holiday shopping here last year...and some shopping for myself as well. It's a unique experience where all of the artwork is set up as one gallery, so you can pay once and not have to hop from booth to booth. The artisans volunteer throughout the week to help with bagging, greeting, arranging, etc. It's a fun time with live music and lots of food goodies as well.

It seems early, but with a little cold snap I think people will be able to think about Christmas shopping, really, there are only 69 days left to shop. Heck, FGH already has his Christmas outfit. Hanna has a sale going on so it was hard to resist. Thanks Gma Barb!

There are quite a few things I have not put into my shop that I will bring to the shows. I have yet to finish and photograph my latest creations, but one nice specimen is pictured at the top of this post. I have a whole line of what I'm calling "Artful Journals." This one has some unique beads made of coral, an interesting raised surface on the front cover, Nepalese Lokta papers, and coral-colored end sheets. I have high hopes, as usual, of getting all my books and cards made for this Holiday season, but it all comes down to what kind of work time I can fit into each busy day. Speaking of, I best get cutting and tearing and folding paper into rectangles.



Happy October! The Equinox passed us quickly and here we are already celebrating October. Time is passing much too quickly. I feel like every time I blink another week has been crossed off the calendar. We headed down to our future home town of New Ulm for Oktoberfest on Saturday. It was a cool but sunny day and we took in nearly every sight including a hike to the top of Hermann (the German) which was very scary - especially with FGH refusing to come back down - all three of us had a shaky few moments getting down the top of the winding staircase. I had to talk Fredrik into squeezing Peter's beard and closing his little eyes while Peter held him tightly to his chest. It was ridiculous. Still, it was a good view when we were at the top.
We took the horse-drawn trolley ride, listened to music, had some beers and brats, did some shopping, visited the Wanda Gag house (super fantastic), headed out to Flandrau where Fredrik eagerly looked for the "beach" (sand-bottom pool) and was not disappointed that the water was gone since piles and piles of sand was an awesome find. It was a good time and we all feel pretty drained today.


Newness from the Studio

Even with longs walks in sudden fall temps I have managed to finish a few books (such a satisfying moment when I stick that Swirling Tree sticker on the last page of the book as the final step). I know I need to start busting into production mode in my overly crowded studio, but this weather is just way to conducive to feelings of leisure.

SPEAKING of fall...
This wonderful autumnal wedding album set was recently commissioned from an etsy shopper and is about to head to the post office. The bride-to-be had some really clever ideas for a large photo album for herself and her soon-to-be husband, plus three smaller albums for the parents. The tree on the front is part of her wedding logo.

The large 10"x12" album is covered in Amate bark paper, rust red book cloth, and has 64 pages in fall colors.
The image on the front has been converted to a duotone (using two shades of brown) and printed on art paper, then nestled into a "window" on the front cover with some dark brown nepalese lokta paper as accent. There is a paper CD holder inside the back cover and the bride and groom's wedding date has been attached to the back cover. The three smaller albums are 6"x8". They have the same tree image, fall colored pages (the pages themselves remind me of leaves), the date on the back, and the CD envelope. They differ by the book cloth and inside covers, one each of gold, green, and rust.

LOVELY, LOVELY. This project has convinced me to make more 10" x 12" albums for my shop and shows and self. Golly I have a lot of photos that need a home. We're talking thousands.

So, another new thing in my studio are my Green Journals.
Inspiration struck a few weeks ago when I saw this:
and right away I knew, with my love for shades of green, that I would need to make journals of these fabrics. So, I bought the Robert Kaufman bundle of greens, made a large pile of bookcloth while watching Jaws (surprisingly still great after all of these years) and proceeded to make the cloth into little 4x6 125 paged hardcover journals bound with hemp twine. I decided to sell the books in sets of three to stick with the shades of coordinating greens theme. I designed a tag, bundled them up, and there you have it. They are not just the color green, but made of recyled materials and the natural undyed hemp thread. They turned out just as I hoped. There is at least one set in my shop with a big stack to be added soon.


Forest City Stockade

We visited the Forest City Stockade last weekend. The above picture is my favorite spot, the homemade ice cream station. So delicious. Peter and I worked at the Stockade a few times when we were farming - we made the fry bread - and it was super fun and we miss it! Hopefully we can get back to volunteering when our lives settle a bit. (Will that ever happen?)

It was a fun (hot) day with a chance to chat with potters and the like. That's Tom on the wheel from the Clay Coyote. There were people making candles, soap, honey, newspaper prints, buffalo burgers, fresh apple pressed apple cider...you know, the pioneer way.
FGH and Madi had fun. They got to try out some antique desks and slates in the schoolhouse - and play games outside with the "teachers." Very adorable.

The trip to the stockade made us feel pretty darned excited about getting back into rural life. Peter is of the opinion that we move into something like this. I'm more of the opinion of something like this hobbit of a place. We've also been thinking that we will most likely be modifying an existing structure. We aren't exactly in the position to be building right now, but I think it will take a good few years to research how to build, anyway, so waiting is fine. Whatever the case, I'm now pretty keen on the idea of having a huge garden with a wooden Peter Rabbit type fence around it!