Traditions: Jul Celebration

Finally, the 24th of December, the day we celebrate Jul. The house is sparkling, the tables are set, the Glogg is heating upstairs, appetizers are in the oven.  Our fingers are crossed that no one shows up early, so we have a moment to get dresses calmly- this never happens. Someone always shows up a few minutes early, a few years ago we went so far as to lock the front door and put a sign up that said “Sorry you are early, we don’t open till 3pm.”

Once all of our family and friends have arrived, some are always late (you know who you are) we gather to sing “Nu Ar Det Jul Igen” holding hands and dancing through the house. This song is about it being Christmas again and it will last until Easter. One family member (I won’t rat him out here) actually leaves his Christmas tree up until Easter…I can not even imagine doing that, crazy Swede! After this the Smorgasbord begins…

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Cheeses, Breads and Thuringer

A Smorgasbord is simply many small dishes that are eaten in a certain order, so that the flavors do not conflict with each other. I should say that this is how it is supposed to be eaten, most, in our world, seem to just pile it all on as if there will not be enough food, there are always left overs, many next year.

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The matriarch of the family

Starting the meal, you should start with fish, cheeses and breads, and there are plenty of dishes to choose from.  Pickled herring (this year we made “vegan herring” for us, shockingly it was tasty), caviar, smoked herring pate.  Graddost, Jarslberg, Gouda, Gjetost (my favorite and I did eat some this year even though it’s not vegan) are the cheeses and breads like Vortlimpa and wheat and crackers Kackerbrod and crisp bread.  You can also add pototoes at this point if you would like.

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The middle generation table, happily I get to sit here

After this plate is eaten you can return for other fish dishes, Glavlax and sometimes shrimp dishes, which we haven’t had in years.

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Cousin and her beau adding more to their plates

Lastly, meat dishes.  Swedish meat balls, ham, liver pate, and thuringer.  This is also time to dive into the Jansson’s Tempation, a casserole made with Swedish anchoies, potaotes and onions.  Along with these meat dishes you should add the sweet and sour red cabbage, pickled beets, lingonberry jam, mustards and cucumber salad.

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My finished plate

Now that you are over stuffed just from reading what we eat, I haven’t even gotten to the drinking. I mentioned above about Glogg, which is a mulled red wine, and delicious.  We drink this at the being of the party, it warms you up and gets your belly ready for the rest of the alcohol consumption.  While the women are setting up the Smorgasbord, the men are out side mixing the Mumma, which is what we drink while we are eating. Having never been to the mumma making table, I am not sure about the exact details, I just know it’s a mixture of different beers, ginger ale and 7up and is yummy.

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Mumma mixing

So while we are eating this massive meal and drinking mumma there is another drink to be had (of course there is, you crazy Swedes!) AQUVIT! Oh boy this is where crazy goes to insane.  Picture it, 25 adults sitting eating there meals, chatting (the level of loud is off the charts), drinking mumma and then out comes the freezing cold, 120 proof Aquvit. Shots are poured. And the singing begins.

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Another round of Aquvit

First, my favorite, Helan Gar.

Helan går
Sjung hopp faderallan lallan lej
Helan går
Sjung hopp faderallan lej
Och den som inte helan tar*
Han heller inte halvan får
Helan går
(Drink)
Sjung hopp faderallan lej

Basically this means if you don’t drink the whole you won’t get a half either. This is followed by a half round singing “Havlan gar” and then “Hej, Tomtegubbar.” Sometimes there are more rounds, but at this point I have had two and a half shots of Aquvit and so the evening gets a bit blurry.

The evening always ends with gifts for the kiddos, Swedish cookies (that is if you can even think about adding any more to your belly) and cooking wood with singing from the talented Uncle and cousins.

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The very talented cousin and uncle

Our Jul celebration is crazy fun and it takes a few days to recover from.  I love every minute of it. It’s a tradition that we cherish and I am happy to be passing it down to our kiddo and sharing it with you.

God Jul!

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Traditions: Marzipan & a theme

Every year, for our Jul Celebration, we have a theme.  Yes, we, my mom and I are known as “Martha-want-to-be’s” by some.  I will accept that title! I see nothing wrong with Martha.  Yes she occasionally goes way over board, does some crazy stuff and leaves an ingredient or steps out of her recipes, but I still like her.  Okay back to the themes…

Every year we like to set the tables to a theme.  We have had snowmen, penguins, 1950’s, angels, Vikings, candy canes, candy, gingerbread houses, the sea, hearts, woodland (aka moss, branches, little red capped mushrooms & elf’s) it goes on and on.  We make marzipan candy’s in a shape to go along with the theme.  This year, it’s A B C’s.

We make our own marzipan (your thinking “of couse you do Martha”) because it’s so easy, cheaper and the end product is far yummier.  The recipe is below that we use, although this is a guide line, it really comes down to taste testing and adjusting.

Marzipan:

  • a half a pound of blanched almonds
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • maybe a splash of water

Toss the almonds in the food processor and whirl until almonds are finely ground, they will start to naturally form a dough, add powdered sugar while continuing to whirl.  If needed add a splash of water to help create a dough the consistance of play-dough. Form into what ever shape you want.  One super yummy thing to do with the left overs is to form into log shape (2″ x “6-ish) and dip in dark chocolate. To serve, slice into 1/4 pieces. 🙂

Marzipan after being chilled
Marzipan after being chilled
Stamped out letter "blocks"  (Cookie cutters are from
Stamped out letter “blocks” (Cookie cutters are from Cost Plus World Market, Fred Letterpress Cookie Set)
Chillin in Chocolate
Chillin in Chocolate
The final table setting
The final table setting with a wonky napkin (notice the three drink glasses… I will share that tomorrow)
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The Elder Table, this year we had only 34 people, so only 3 tables.

Everyone loved the theme this year, it was simple, cute and sparkly… Tomorrow I will share the craziness of our Jul Celebration, I know you can’t wait.

Keeping up traditions, part 1

We have many traditions, especially when it comes to Christmas, or God Jul.  My mom’s family is from Sweden, she is the first generation in the Untied States, so many of our traditions are Swedish.  I love them all, the insane and the fun, and I will do all I can to keep them going, really it’s not that hard.

Yesterday we made Coffee Bread, Vetebrod, for Christmas morning.  My mom, with my “help,” has been making them since 1989.  I know this because the recipe has the number of times she doubled the recipe each year.  She makes a loaf for each family that comes to our Jul Celebration, we have made more than 20 loafs at a time, yesterday “only” 14.  And it was kiddo’s turn to start learning.

Vetebord recipe with years of notes
Vetebord recipe with years of notes

This Jul Coffee Bread is full of cardamon, cinnamon, butter, and sugar.  What could be better.  When we make 14 loaves, it’s an all day event.  Every year, we chat about the upcoming Smorgasbord preparations (more to come on this), who is coming (only 35 this year) and other funny random mom and daughter discussions. My mom says “This is why I don’t like baking, it takes so long.”  And I reply with “If you only made one, it would not take forever, but we are making 14” (or whatever the years number is).  With kiddo helping out this year, it was funny for sure.  “I want to make a pumpkin shaped Vetebrod for halloween, Nanny.”  “The sugar tastes glittery.” and my favorite “You can’t buy houses, they are too heavy to carry home!” HA!

Back to the bread, after the dough rises and has been kneaded, again, it’s time for the rolling and folding.

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Rolling out the bread dough
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Spreading the butter, sugar & cinnamon mixture
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After rolling the dough, you snip, snip, snip
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Then fold, fold, fold
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Second rise while waiting for the oven
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Done, and the house smells amazing!

Now these are in no way shape or form vegan, nor gluten free, but it’s one of those traditions that I will ignore my “food rules” for.  We all look forward to Christmas morning, a bit hung over from the Jul Celebration, with a strong cup of coffee and a slice or two or three of the Vetebrod while watching the kiddo’s open there stocking gifts. I can taste it already, God Jul!

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“Where is that elf, Mr. Jingle”

Over the summer we (well let’s be real, my mom) found this awesome vintage Elf, so I HAD to jump on the “Elf on the Shelf” band wagon this December.  I have been collecting ideas on Pinterest ever since, wow are people creative! This elf stuff is a bit of work, but so much fun!

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He arrived in early December after Raziah Rainbow-wand, our house fairy, flew to the North Pole to escort Jingle to our home, it is his first time out of the North Pole after all.  He brought a “North Pole Breakfast” for the kiddo, powdered sugar doughnuts, mini marshmallows, candy canes and hot chocolate.

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IMG_5204It was the first time she has had a doughnut of any kind, sugar rush…you bet-cha!

Sometimes, Jingle, likes to just simply hide in random places:

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He has also gotten into a bit of trouble writing on the bathroom mirror and leaving a funny sticker of antlers & santa hat.

IMG_5497Hung from the ceiling fan and made a paper chain chandelier

IMG_5515We had to go out of town for an evening, where we meet Pearl, Nanny’s elf and the cousin’s were introduced to there elf, Billy

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Billy (left) and Pearl (right) fishing for goldfish

For awhile I thought that I has having more fun planning what Jingle will do the next day than Kiddo was having with it.  This morning, Kiddo woke up and said “Where is that elf, Mr. Jingle” and it made me so happy.  Silly, yep, but I love it.  One of the best parts on having an elf is the power Mr.Jingle has over kiddo.  All we have to say when she is acting up a bit is “oh, remember Mr.Jingle is going to see Santa tonight, are you sure you want to do that?”  HA so far it has worked every time!

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Oh so cozy… sweet dreams.

Fascinating Fascinators

Friends of ours had an ace of an idea for their daughters party, A London Birthday Party.  Here in Davis we have the UCD bus line with a classic double decker from jolly old England, and you can rent it! Dog’s bollocks, what four year old doesn’t think that is cool! Not only was the party fun, we were asked to wear fascinators! FUN!

Of course we can’t just go and buy a fascinator here, well maybe but they are a pricey, and really it’s far more fun to just make it.  Shockingly enough, Magazine mom was also up for a bit of fascinator diy, so we got busy…well sort of.  Day one…we didn’t get anything done, well except for discussing how to rearrange E’s room. I am sure you have those days when you want to get creative, you have the time to be creative and no matter what you just can’t. So annoying, but we reconvened the next morning…while the girls were at school, perfect.

Oh and I have an issue with birds, I hate them.  Hate might be a really strong word here, but chickens, ducks, seagulls, robins, bluejays, if it’s a bird, it’s yuck.  From a far, okay I can handle it, but up close…NO. Fake birds, they really have to be cute and glittery, and a Christmas ornament.  So why was I thinking a bird fascinator – I don’t know.  And I found a cute red bird ornament (did I just say that) and that was it. Perfect. For the kiddo, a dark pink butterfly, shocking.

Now I have not been blogging as much as I want to be, so I am yet again rusty with the photo taking… but really this is simple. We had ribbons, rein-stones  glittery fake leaves, tule, cheap headbands, hot glue gun, birds, butterflies and flowers ornaments (these all had clips on the bottom that are “supposed” to clip onto the tree), and coffee. Time to get started.

IMG_5246 For my red bird fascinator I used some green ribbon and floral wire and made a basic loopy bow.  Made it fit around the bottom of the bird to make a nest using the floral wire at the center to wrap around the bird, hot glued a few of the glittery leave stems on, clipped it to the headband and ta-da, cute.  Pretty much the same thing for the kiddos dark pink butterfly.

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The BFF’s with almost matching dark pink butterfly fascinators

IMG_5272Really, we should wear fascinators more often in this country, they are so fun! And if you use an ornament like I did, it can live on the tree until the next holiday party.

IMG_5285Cheerio!

I did it!

I can now say I have shown and SOLD my creations in a craft show! My little business is real and there is no stopping now.

The last two weeks have been CRAZY! The craft show is over and was successful, happy day! Let me tell you, that last week before “the” show… nothing can prepare you for that craziness. The last minute creating, the tagging (oye I will always do that as I go from now on!), the pricing, the lists, the stress of the unknown, the weather (I didn’t know a raining few days could stress me out) and not to mention the “normal” life routines, making dinner (I admit, there where quite a few evenings of “oh yea- dinner, well how about frozen veggies and rice?”), cleaning up- this did NOT happen… my poor June Cleaver want to be self was not around and I payed for it yesterday (it took me 5 hours to clean our less than 1000 sq ft. place) and the mommy guilty, “I need to sew, why don’t you watch another show” was said by me WAY too much!

That being said, it was well worth it! Here is what I learned during “the” show:

1. A three day show is very, very, very long! Oh boy, it’s a long time to be working a booth space, a long time to be standing, and a long time to be away from my family.

2. Make sure you can sit down, you don’t want to stand for three days like I did! I admit, many people warned me about this, but I though no big deal…ha wrong! It wasn’t that my feet and lower back started to ach during the show, it’s when you get home, hubby hands you a cocktail and you sit down to relax- that’s when the feet start to ach a bit, then you stand up…boy howdy…no not comfortable, make sure there is at least a stool.

3. Having a friend help you out is awesome! My good friend Ashley, from Magazine Mom, helped me out Saturday and Sunday.  It was great, very helpful and made the days go by faster.  I lost track of how many times we rearranged the inventory, but that’s what we do. (by the way, I need help in kiddo’s room Ash) Have someone help you out, it’s a must!

4. No matter what, do not set mental expectations.  I did this, I didn’t want to, and I know I should not have done so, but I did.  I was a bit bummed at the end of the show, with the outcome of what I sold and what I have left over.  Reality, the next day, I did pretty awesome for my first time!

5. People watching is fascinating!  Really.  There are some interesting people out there in the world.  Many, many nice and kind people.  People you don’t want your children around (blue dots). People that make you go “huh?”  Here’s an example of this, Day three, a very nice older lady was in my booth, we where chatting, she was holding one of the dresses I made, saying “how cute her grand daughter was going to look wearing it this coming summer.”  “How her daughter would love it because it’s vintage.” and “How well made it is, and the price is perfect” I was thinking sold, woohoo…. nope, she turned around, hung it up and walked away, not even a thank you or bye.  What can I say people are weird (and I include myself in that weirdness)

5. Having a pro, like my mom, is a must! She helped me out so much, I can not say Thank you enough.  With having everything I needed for my booth space, helping me tag and many many (MANY) other things, she is awesome! Oh and she can pack a mini van like NO other!

That being said, I am sure you want to see the final booth space, those of you who follow me might remember back in October the posts of sketches and a trial run of my booth; so drum roll please………

Booth Space day one, facing left
Booth Space day one, facing left
Booth Space, day one, looking right
Booth Space, day one, looking right
Day two, we took down the "Vintage Princess by ME" banner, I didn't like it
Day two, we took down the “Vintage Princess by ME” banner.  I didn’t like it, it was too “something”

All in all, this was an amazing experience.  I can say “I finally did it” and I survived.  I have made some great contacts, learned quite a few things and have confirmation (even more than before) that people do like what I make. I will be posting the remaining inventory on my etsy page soon too!

What next…well some how it’s already December 4th! 20 days until Christmas- wowzers! I know I will be sharing with you a few ornament projects, a few recipes, our experience with an Elf visiting, a few of my Swedish traditions and maybe even a fascinator or two.  Until then, cheers!