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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Eye Candy from Norway

I am still here in Sweden, but it's less that 12 hrs left...  I have so many things to show you, but it is hard to find time to get all the activities in, meet all the people we would like to meet, and blog at the same time, so naturally the blogging falls behind a bit!

At least I want to post a quickie about the beautiful sweaters fromthe Norwegian company Oleana.  This is a post that I have planned for about a month now...   Oleana makes designs that are both trendy yet classical and that I feel are firmly anchored in the Scandinavian folks art heritage.  The patterns are beautiful and the color composition quite daring in many cases.
The sweaters are made from a mix of wool and silk, which makes them warm on cold days and cool on warmer days.  They are very pricey, so the sweaters have to be seen as an "investement" in your wardrobe, rather than the trendy accessorie of the season.  Last time I visited Sweden, Littlest Sister brought me to Oleana and we picked out this long "sweater cape".  Yesterday, we went to a museum to see a few of the paintings that my father's late aunt, Vera Frisen-Stroh, painted over her life. 
I wanted to dress up in something special for this special occasion, so here below you can see a couple of photos of my Oleana sweater.  I love it!!!
This is only the second time I wear it.  I wore it to work one day, and since I work with a bunch of engineers, we generally don't really comment on each other's choice of clothing, but that day I gor compliments from probably 10 different coworkers of both genders.

My mother and father also spoiled me rotten a couple of days ago and bought me two new Oleana shirts "for my birthday", which is in September.  I also bought myself one more, so I am pretty much set for life now...  Here are the sweaters I got (and yes, I know that I am very lucky and spoiled rotten x 1,000):

Note that this last design almost looks like it was inspired by needlework-lace.  

Oleana is now hot stuff in the US after First Lady Michelle Obama picked out no less than four Oleana sweaters when she visited Norway a couple of years ago.  This is one of the sweaters she brought back home:

As a matter of fact, the ladies that own the Oleana store in Stockholm, Oleana and Friends, mentioned that the factory cannot make the sweaters fast enough!
They do have a beautiful Oleana book of the coffee-table type, that describes the Oleana philosophy, development and the sources of inspiration (old wallpaper, table cloths etc), but it is unfortunately available in Norwegian only, so I opted not to purchase it (for this time at least...).

It is also possible to find pre-owned Oleana sweaters on E-bay, generally priced at about $200...

Time to run and celebrate Valborg! 
Talk with you in a bit - next time I will post from good ole' Kentucky!  :-)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Millesgården in Lidingö, Sweden

Today we got to go for a real treat.  We visited the home of Swedens's most famous sculptor, Carl Milles.  His mother died while giving birth to him in 1875 and Carl ended up having two siblings and three half-siblings after the father re-married.  Two of his siblings were artists as well, his older sister Ruth Milles was a talented illustrator and sculptor and his half-brother Evert Milles was an architect.

Carl Milles was born in close vicinity to the Swedish university city of Uppsala.  He studied at the Tekniska Skolan in Stockholm where he won a stipend to travel and he ended up studying art in Paris 1897, quite by chance.  Here, he was greatly influenced by the French sculptor Auguste Rodin.  In Paris he also met his future wife, the Austrian Olga Grannar, also a very skilled artist.  They met in 1999 and married in 1905.  The couple had no children.

Carl Milles big breakthrough came in 1902 after he won a competition to create a monument in Uppsala.
Carl Milles does also have a strong connection to the US (here are a few examples of sculptures in other parts of the world than Sweden).  From 1931 to 1945 Carl Milles was professor of sculpture at the Cranbrook Academy at Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.  His work in the USA includes fountains in Chicago, Kansas City, New York, and St Louis.  Carl Milles became an American citizen in 1945 but returned to Sweden in 1951 and died at Lidingö, where his and Olga's home, Millesgården (The Garden of Milles) is located.  Millesgården was donated to the Swedish people by the Milles' and is now an open-air museum of his work, known as Millesgården.

Here are a few examples of his fantastic work.  I feel that Carl Milles was definitely ahead of his time and many of these sculptures are still unique ideas today.  Photos are clickable and well worth a closer look....

 Littlest Sister and The Ice Skater

 DH and a Boar

 Me and a Genius

DH, Littlest Sister, Dad and Mom admiring the 
view from the lower terrace of Millesgården.

 We did actually go to Millesgården to see a temporary Beatrix Potter exhibition.  It was fun to see a large collection of her drawings and paintings (copies only, Britain does not lend her work to anyone).  Who does not love her children's books? 
Beatrix Potter was economically independent thanks to her books, which in turn made an independent life-style possible, even though her upper class parents did not approve many of her choices, which were quite unusual during the strict Victorian era.  We learned that Beatrix Potter was very engaged in keeping Britain's farm lands and meadows untouched and helped save a lot of land from industrialization together with the organization National Trust.  When she died in 1943, Beatrix Potter left 4000 acres of land to the National Trust, including 14 farms, cottages and many local areas of beauty. Beatrix was interested in farming and did even win prizes for her pigs and her sheep.  Who knew?

Finally before bed, I have to give you a quick stitch update!  The Homespun Elegance ornament got finished up on the plane over to Sweden.  The Prairie Moon fob was stitched up in an evening here after I had tea dyed some of mom's white scrap linen.  I just started on the "A Schoolroom Primer" kit from Milady's Needle the other morning, when I woke up from jet-lag issues at 4.30 AM, Swedish time...  As you can see, the actual horn-book broke on the way over to Sweden, but I do believe that I'll be able to glue it back together again.  Or maybe I can contact Milady's Needle and ask if I can buy a replacement.  What do you think?

Good Night from Sweden, Take Care and Happy Stitching,

Monday, April 25, 2011

True Joy!

This is just the cutest little snippet!  No words to describe this one other than "happiness", don't you think?

I am still here in Stockholm.  I have so many places and experiences that I would like to share with all of you, but I keep forgetting my camera at home!!! 
Oh well, I guess that my forgetfulnes means that I have to come back here to visit soon again, right!?

Greetings from a very relaxed

Friday, April 22, 2011

Up, Up and Away!

Absolutely first off - thanks so much to all of you for all kind and funny comments!  It is so enjoyable to hear from you!!!  I always mean to thank all of you, but then I get too excited to share new stuff with you and I end up forgetting.  I am shuffling my feet in embarrassement right now...

Happy Easter everyone!  I am back home visiting the family again (vacation this time), so everything is pretty fabulous as far as I am concerned right now!
I have finally been able to give Littlest Sister her cross-stitch gift, so now I can finally share this finish with you.  This is "Bacon & Eggs Photobooth kit" by one of my favourite designers as of the last few years: Bent Creek.  I found some scrap-booking paper at Michaels' and finished three "photo booth strips" using old pictures and mat-board/cardboard from my scrap pile at home.  All the photos are showing her and another family member (except for her baby picture).  The left hand side contains older photos and the right hand are more recent photos.  The last one on the right hand is of her and our new niece.
She was very, very happy and almost started crying.  Then we laughed together about the silly looking pig and chick - especially the second square from the top is a hoot!


I finished the photo booth two nights before the trip, so I had start on something new & quick; this is an old annual Christmas ornament from Homespun Elegance that I picked up at a sale somewhere a while back.  I did manage to finish it during the houers on various flights yesterday, so I'll show you a fresher pic next post.  I believe that this kit was released in 1995.  A lot of fun to stitch and ended up real cute, but it is much larger than it looks from the cover photo, and the colors are totally different.

Finally a quick birdie report.  This photo shows Turkey (on top) and Munin (squeezed in underneath).  This is how these two guys sleep together.  Every night.  Can you believe it!?  It just does not look comfortable to me at all, but I guess that they are perfectly fine with it...  Top photo is Monday morning, bottom photo is Tuesday morning - both pics taken in the darkness with a flash.

Leaving these guys is the worst thing about leaving home - I actually miss these rascals already!

Well, time to get to bed so that we can get up early and celebrate Easter!
As usual, sorry about the poor spelling - Swedish spell check does not do anything useful for the English language...

Take Care, Happy Stitching and talk with you in a bit!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Another One Bites the Dust

A quick happy post before I get started on finishing up the next project in line.  Here it is; the Quaker Sampler Pocket from Goode Huswife in all it's brown and tan glory.  Check!  :-)

Note my matching nail-polish...  It is that new (?) "gel" stuff that is dried through UV light curing and it's the first time I try it.  It is supposed to last for 2-3 weeks and so far I am impressed.  Today was the big weekly bird-cage wash and living room clean-up.  If it can stand that test, it can get through anything.
Since I am on my "go bold and don't be scared of color" kick, I picked this deep brown-red color, something that I have never been brave enough to try before.  I was contemplating the choice for a long time; I have a vendor meeting on Tuesday with a Japanese group and I wasn't sure if this is real appropriate in an engineering meeting.  Now it kinda' has to be...
Of course DH told me that he wasn't crazy about this color pick.  Oh well, he'll have to deal with it for a few more weeks.

Tomorrow evening, June-bug and I are going to get pampered in the massage parlor.  It is the second time I go to get a massage.  The first time I got a professional massage was when DH and I went on our very belated "Honey moon" (after being married for 6 years...) to Cancun in Mexico.  Let me tell you, if you want a great time in Cancun, no masses of people to fight over food, drinks, and space with, go over Thanksgiving - it was great!  Anyway, we were getting this romantic massage out on a deck right by the ocean.  We were lying next to each other and you could hear the ocean waves, smell the saltiness of the air, and feel the warmth from the sun and the cool of the sea breeze.  After about half an hour we were commanded to flip over from lying on our stomachs to lying on our backs.  Well, the lady that took care of me didn't pay attention to the fact that the sea breeze had picked up and so my towel blew off me.  I was totally flashing the rest of the beach!  I told DH afterward, whereon he responds: "Oh, that's why all those persons were standing on the balconies looking down at us".  That man truly knows how to make a girl feel...  um.. well... special... 
By the way, it always cracks me up when they ask if you want a "deep-tissue" or a "Swedish" massage.  The latter one sounds a bit kinky and I say that being a Swede... 

Well, off to the next project!
Happy Stitching and talk with you in a bit!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Grand Plans.... and the Stress that Follows

Well, I am at the home-stretch with the Quaker Pocket!  My friend L-bug asked me what it is to be used for and I bet that my mom will ask me the same question once I hand it over, so I'd better do my homework!
If I understand it correctly, back in the olden days ladies did not have pockets in their dresses or skirts.  The long-pocket was worn around the waist as a place to carry things in - like those belly-packs that some people sport nowadays. I have a feeling that my mom won't use it as such, but I was thinking that it can be used as a pretty adorable clothes-pin sack in the laundry room or something similar...  Any ideas?
Anyway, I have been stitching along slowly on the pocket and I am working on the letters now...  Yep, I am saying it again - I am not a big fan of stitching the alphabet.  Of course that is why I pick this moment in the stitching process to mess up the counting; I got to rip up and re-stitch A-D as a bonus.  Don't you just love that!?  ;-)
Photo taken outside in the never ending KY spring rain...

So, do you ever feel stressed out about stitching?  I stitch for entertainment and relaxation, but I have found that I have to tell myself to calm down every now and then.
I see all the designers that I want to stitch, I look through the ever-building stash, I plan and I ponder all the gifts I want to make and give away to family and friends, I recall all the neglected magazine projects that have been stored away in my stitching room and in the back of my head.
I plan my "Exquisite Sampler Walls" around the house; one wall for all my Sandy Orton samplers (you know the series she did back in the days with a Spanish, English, Dutch and American sampler?), one wall for all my samplers containing maps, one wall for all my Fremme work and the list goes on and on.  I look through all the charts that I collected, because at the time, I just couldn't live without them...
To sum it up, I have Grand Plans pretty much all the time, but they all seems to fall through the cracks sooner or later.
Oh well, I know that there are worse things to get stressed out about, right?
Some of my Grand Plans:
  • Stitch up as gifts for friends and family - ZaZa Piques tea travel pocket:
  • Brightneedle's Lo How a Rose - it is a real beauty, isn't it?
  • My Nostalgic Needle and Needle's Prayse charts - some are even stitched up but awaiting the finishing steps.
  • All my class kits (!)
  • More blackwork projects - I really do enjoy stitching blackwork.  Have you seen Tanya Berlin's fantastic kits?  I have the Fuchsia and the Chickadee at home.  I have told myself that I won't get to purchase the Peacock until I have finished the two I already have...

And the list goes on...

Anyway, the particular stress for this weekend involves finishing up the Quaker Pocket and maybe even the Birdcage and definitely the gift for Littlest Sister.  We'll see...  I already know that I have 6 gigantic - and real - birdcages to clean, a kitchen-floor that is possibly even been more neglected than those magazine designs,  a bunch of plants and bulbs that need stuffed down in the dirt more urgently than all my stitched-up and unfinished ornaments need stuffed...

Sometimes I think that the best way to fight the stitching stress is to just keep dreaming, take one stitch at the time and avoid the Internet at all cost.  ;-)   However, when Stitching Bits & Bobs has a clearance, you kinda' owe it to yourself to give in a little - lookie what I found:  Praiseworthy Stitches' Emiliana's Sewing Case for 50% off at only $12.50!  I love all the pinks in this one - it is soooo girly!

I am fully aware of the fact that I will probably not get around to stitch it for another 50 years or so....

At least I won't be bored this weekend with all theses items on my to-do list...  Pink "made me" go out and socialize yesterday - we went to an Irish pub and I pretty much felt like I was all alone in a huge crowd.  Ever felt like that?  I did have some conversations (if you can call a yelling match over country music a conversation) with some really sweet ladies, but other than that, the whole thing was kinda' depressing...  Another friend pointed out that part of the problem may be that I don't drink, but that rest of the crowd was by no means rowdy.  (One time I actually brought a cross-stitch kit to a sports bar.  Pink and DH really wanted to watch a football game and I felt like I should probably be a part of it too and pretend that I cared who won...  I am surprised that Pink and DH still have their eyes attached in their heads, the way that they rolled them when I got bored about 5 minutes in the game and whipped out the kit.  "Their" team lost.  I got a bunch stitched.  Who was the smart one?  Who!?  ;-))

Maybe I should just give in, become a hermit and sign up for Joyce's International Hermit and Stitch Weekend!

All right, time to get back to the pocket and the other goodies!  Happy Stitching and talk with you in a bit!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Music Video Time - back to the 80s...

I just have to share this old music video today, because it makes me happy!

This particular piece of pop-history is Just a Gigolo with David Lee Roth, who used to be the lead singer in the hard rock band Van Halen.  All of the sudden (as I recall it) he breaks free from this hugely famous and "serious" heavy metal band (1985), starts a solo career and decides to make this hilarious video while singing the Just a Gigolo/I Ain't Got Nobody.

I say hilarious because he makes fun of a number of different things.
  • First off, he heckles a bunch of music videos made with the big stars from around the same time.  We have parodies based on Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, Billy Idol, Willie Nelson, Boy George, Heavy Metal and even a Richard Simmons work-out video in the "Daversize" section of the video.  The parodies are really well done; the scenery is essentially identical copies of the other stars' video stages and the actors playing the stars are real lookalikes down to body-language.  An entertaining trip down memory lane.
  • Second, he shows us how superficial the entertainment industry is and it seems that most of the women are clingy and half-naked in this video...  Luckily the Censorship Board is shocked and is trying to get him to stop!
  • Finally, the guy totally makes fun of himself!  I have always admired the ability some people have not to take themselves too seriously, especially when it comes to people of the opposite sex.  I think that there are several reasons for this attraction to people with a relaxed attitude about their Position in the Universe of mine.  It has been said that humor is a sign of intelligence and I agree 100% with that statement!  It also feels like I sometimes have to interact with, in particular, men who think that/act like they are best, smartest, coolest, richest, best looking - you name it.  It gets real old after a while.  I find it refreshing to see a man who does not have an issue with dressing up like a crazy jazz-dancer/clown, dancing like a maniac, falling off a roof, getting bumped, wiggling his butt - all while singing an old medley.....
  • And what a medley it is!  Yep, because in a music video, the music really does matter!  If you don't like the rest of the mess in this video, just close your eyes and listen - happy, happy, happy.  (A tad ironic, since the subject matter is very sad...  According to Wikipedia: "The original version is a poetic vision of the social collapse lived in Austria after World War I, represented by the figure of a former hussar who remembers himself parading in his uniform, while now he has to get by as a lonely, hired dancer."  Sniffle....)

I can understand that younger generations may not really get this video, especially since some readers of this blog were not at all impressed with the awesome "Sledgehammer" video (yep Littlest Sis, I am talking about you here, lol).
If you didn't grow up with MTV (back when MTV actually showed music videos) as the single means to get your hit-music fix without spending a fortune on easy-to-scrape and oh-so-bulky records, chances are that you may be at a loss.  Yep, this was before we could download music or upload You Tube videos (wow, I feel old - we also walked all the way to and from school during the ice-age, uphills both ways...).
I would dare say that this was about the same time as the Sony Walkman portable cassette player finally broke through...  Ah, those were the days.  :-)  I had the Walkman Sports!  Very cool, isn't it!?

Well, as usual, I should have gone to bed about 2 hrs ago...  Hope this makes you as happy as it makes me!
Good Night!
PS Here is the karaoke version.... I dare you - just go on - sing it!!!!  :-)