Stickers!

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These stickers bring me back to being a kid, collecting stickers, trading them with friends, ah the memories.  Speaking of memories, I think I am loosing mine. I thought I was on it, blogging with some sort of consistency: weekly or at the very least every other week. But no, I started writing this morning, thinking on was on it… NO. It’s been over a month. Wow Molly, wow. I have been busy, but really….

On to the stickers!  It’s Spring Break here (amazing that pre-school has spring break right?) and we went to Sonoma County for Easter and Kiddo and I stayed with my mom, niece and nephew for a few extra days.  One of the things on our list of fun was to take a tour of Mrs. Grossman’s Sticker Factory.  I believe I was more excited than the kiddo.

stickersIf you are ever in Petaluma, this is a fun little tour to take. You do need to make reservations, it doesn’t cost much, and it’s worth it, especially if you ever loved stickers or your kiddos does or it’s raining or well you just should.

The tour is about an hour long, you get free stickers through out the tour, learn about how they make stickers (really it isn’t as easy as you would think), Mrs. Grossman’s is a leader in recycling waste, plus you get a packet of stickers to make a little project at the end of the tour and it’s a fun way to spend a little time.

I would love to show you more of how they make stickers, but because they also print wine labels we could not take photos through out the factory  which means you will just need to go and check it out for yourself.  But I can show you this:

stickers4There are rows and rows of rolls and rolls of stickers waiting to be packaged.

stickers6Walls of stickers from the past… I really do think at one time or another I owed almost all of these.

stickers3Some of the stickers we received during the tour, working on our project. Kiddo’s favorite part was “when we got all the stickers and made the project and it was a little stinky.” It’s true, it was a little stinky, they put a chemical into the ink so that it dries quickly, but it’s not that bad.

It was a fun day and now to get really for another fun weekend full of parties and friends. signature

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!

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.