A Kulokk

Monday, October 14, 2019

A year or two ago, Abigail and I became entranced by kulning, Swedish herding calls sung to bring the cows in from the mountains. The videos of Jonna Jinton really inspired us, and soon we were trying to teach ourselves the lovely melodies that Jonna sung.

This last July, while visiting my parents in Seattle, I found a book entitled "Sing 'til the Cows Come Home" by Peggy Larson, so of course I picked it up immediately and brought it home! The book centers more around kulokk, the Norwegian form of kulning, though there are several Swedish cow calls in it as well. Not only did the book explain the history of this lovely art form, it included tips and sheet music (even a CD!) so I could learn the cow calls myself!

I've already learned several of the calls in the book, and I'm having such a fun time practicing in the mountains above the Barn (the volume needed for these calls is such that you wouldn't want to practice inside, haha!). Greta loves it too because this means she gets to go on more walks!

With Quinn's help I put together a little video of one of the kulokks I've learned - I hope you like it! This particular call is called 'Kulokk Bushann' and it was originally sung by Eli Storbekken.
I don't have any cows to call, but there were a few eagles in the trees when I sang. And please do let me know if you would like to hear more cow calls - it was so much fun making this video I already have ideas for another! And tell me, had you heard of kulning or kulokk before?

An Octoberfest Celebration

Monday, September 30, 2019

A Small Note:
These photos were taken last year, 2018, but for whatever reason I never got around to writing the story to share it with you. I hope you will enjoy it nonetheless - 

September is drawing to a close, and here we are approaching the first of October. Last year I got it in my head to host an Octoberfest party, and what a grand time we had! I must say, thinking back I do believe we planned it mostly for the thought of the food, but there was so much more to it than that. I do hope you enjoy this little story, and perhaps you will find some inspiration to host your own Octoberfest celebration come October first!

It all started the morning of the first, with making the pretzel dough (I followed this recipe here, but if you would like an easier version - that doesn't require the baking soda bath - I recommend this version which I've made numerous times.)! Quinn was very kind in helping me with all the planning for the celebration, and the two of us had a marvelous time rolling and shaping the pretzels (the best part, second only to eating them!).

Besides making the pretzels, the fancy dessert would need to be made before the party as well. After looking through ideas of traditional German treats, I settled on making 'apfelstrudel', or apple strudel. I had never made nor had I ever tried this dessert which is so lovingly sung in the song "Favorite Things": 'Cream colored ponies and crisp apple strudel...' After reading through the recipe, I knew I had my work cut out for me - this was no easy dessert!

Instead of rolling out the dough as you normally would, you actually stretch it thinner and thinner until you have a  large sheet of dough you can see through! I was a little nervous about making one large apple strudel, so I chose to make two smaller ones instead. My dough didn't stretch nearly enough I believe, but I'm sure next time it will turn out even better!

We used our own apples from our apple trees to make these, they were ripe and ready to go! After stretching the dough out as much as I dared, it was time to fill it and then wrap it all up - using a tea towel placed underneath to help guide the dough. Soon the Barn was smelling amazing with scents of apple and cinnamon. 

It was nearing time for our Octoberfest celebration to begin! Quinn was on the back porch grilling brauts, while I ran to and for hanging up decorations and picking bouquets for the dinner table. Just as important as the decorations, we chose our outfits well! Abigail and I wore German dirndls, and Quinn - not wanting to be left out but owning no lederhosen - chose the next best thing: a kilt!

As the food was laid out on the counter and the last few dishes were set on the table, Quinn hooked up his phone to the loud speakers and blasted German polka music! Dancing ensued...

Everyone grabbed a plate and a fancy bottle of ginger ale, and together we sat down to enjoy the music and food of Germany.

We talked and chatted and tried to sing along to the fun polka songs. I was so happy with how everything turned out - especially the pretzels! After eating, we all felt so full the thought of dessert wasn't even near our minds - so we cleared the table and opted instead to play a game of 'Settlers of Cattan' before continuing with dessert. It should be a surprise to no one that Quinn won the game, haha!

Before it got too dark out, we ran outside to get some photos in front of the apple trees (which were looking so lovely in their autumn colors). Greta had been busy watching the chickens, and wasn't too thrilled about getting her picture taken. Quinn on the other hand was ready and willing (it's fun to see how 'short' his hair was then, a year ago, compared to how long it is now)!

Back inside, we were starting t find ourselves eyeing the apple strudel when Abigail announced she had also made a dessert: fresh, homemade donuts! So while I warmed up the apple strudel in the oven and dusted some powdered sugar on top, she set to work over mom's antique gas stove frying donuts.

Suddenly we didn't seem full anymore, we were ready for dessert! Abby had all sorts of yummy toppings for her donuts - chocolate, maple and vanilla icing, coconut, sprinkles, and cinnamon sugar as well! I am also happy to report that the apple strudel turned out quite delectable even though my dough wasn't as thin as I would have liked. It still turned out flakey and "crisp" - as Maria sings that it should be. And it was made all the more perfect with a scoop of ice cream on top (looking at these pictures, I think it's about time we made al these desserts again, wouldn't you agree?).

 We finished the night munching on leftover pretzels listening to the wood cook stove crackle away with a fire. It truly was the best way to start off the month of October - so I do hope you've been inspired to make a German dish or even to throw your own little Octoberfest celebration. Please do let me know if you try your hand at making pretzels or apple strudel - I would love to see your results.
Have a wonderful October Dear Friend!

An Autumn Wardrobe

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Hello Friends, as many of you know I simply adore fashion! I've never really been one to follow the latest trends though, I know what I like and I wear it. Most of my tastes revolve around vintage and retro styles (perhaps with some old fashioned librarian thrown in for good measure), and I especially like pairing vintage hats with my outfits.

Summer is now over here in Southeast Alaska, and I just recently put away all my summer things and instead pulled out my fall sweaters, dresses and skirts. This is always a lot of fun (I do so love a fresh start on my shelves and in my drawers), and this year I thought it would be fun to look through my fall wardrobe and come up with some new outfit combinations! I felt my creativity flying as I pulled things out, and what a lovely time I had mixing and matching this and that. So in honor of the start of Autumn here in Juneau, I thought I would throw together a little video of some of my favorite fall outfits - and perhaps inspire you to create your own Autumn wardrobe to help usher in the season!

Below you will find a little run-down of each outfit - the brands, where I purchased this or that, and so on - and some history behind some of the pieces as well! I do hope you enjoyed the video and please let me know down below in the comments what your favorite outfit was (can you guess mine?)!

Outfit #1 - School Days

Hat- Vintage
Dress- Thrifted, Loft
Blouse- Thrifted, Gap
Bow Belt- Tatyana Boutique
Shoes- Thrifted, Dansko

Almost all of this outfit was bought second-hand! The only things that weren't were the bow belt and the hat (which was a gift, bought at a vintage store).
I often wear this dress during the winter too, but instead of the white blouse I pair it with a black turtleneck sweater.

Outfit #2 - September Sky

Hat- Vintage
Dress- Tatyana Boutique 
Belt- Thifted
Crinoline- Thrifted
Shoes- Payless

I got this dress for Christmas from my mom several years ago - the funny thing was my sister-in-law Abigail got the same dress for Christmas that same year from my mother-in-law! We've worn them together several times for shows, so much fun! The suitcase was more a prop rather than an actual part of the outfit. I was just so thrilled to find one this summer at an antique store (I've always wanted one ever since I was little and one of my Barbies had one, haha!). Sadly, none of the cruise ships would let me on board...

Outfit #3 - Oak Leaves

Hat- Vintage
Scarf- Thrifted
Sweater- Jeanne Pierre
Skirt- Vintage

In the video I start with wearing a pair of clogs with this outfit, but part way through I switch to the Alaskan choice of footwear: the Xtratuf! You will see all the locals wearing them should you ever visit. The sweater was bought at one of the only places in Juneau to buy clothes, Fred Meyer (and once you buy a piece of clothing there, you will soon see everyone else wearing it too! Ah, the joys of living in a small, isolated town).

Outfit #4 - Busy Bee

Hat- Vintage
Sweater- Thrifted, It's Our Time
Dress- Vintage, Etsy
Purse- Vintage

As you may have guessed by now I don't spend a lot of money on my clothes. I really enjoy searching through secondhand stores and vintage shops trying to find the next buried piece of treasure. Now that my family lives outside of Seattle, I often get to search through the big thrift shops there on my visits to them (where there is quite the diverse collection of things compared to little Juneau!).

Outfit #5 - Candy Apple

Hat- Thrifted
Dress- Etsy, Plum & Pigeon
Skirt- Berwin & Wolff
Shoes- Jambu

Yes, you read that right, that blouse I'm wearing is actually a dress! I just loved the look of the skirt with it so much I paired them together - and now I can get more wear out of the dress.
The purse is a treasured gift from a Norwegian gift shop in Decorah, Iowa. I have always loved the art of rosemaling, and someday I hope to learn how to do it myself!

Outfit #6 - Sock Hop

Dress- Stop Staring!
Purse- Vintage
Hat- Amazon
Stockings- What Katie Did

And now we're to our final outfit! This one may have been the simplest of all, but I loved how the red bag and lipstick added some flair! The hat also matched the colors of the dress perfectly, and I really felt like a movie star walking the streets of downtown Juneau.

I do hope this inspired you a little, Friend! I know this post was quite different than what I normally do, but I hope you enjoyed it nonetheless. I had such a fun time putting together the outfits and making the video, and it was made more special by getting to share my love of fashion with you. Please do let me know what your favorite outfit was and if you would like to see more fashion posts in the future. Until next time!

Autumn in the Mountains

Monday, September 16, 2019

A Small Note:
These photos were taken last year, 2018, but for whatever reason I never got around to writing the story to share it with you. I hope you will enjoy it nonetheless - 

Autumn has come again to Southeast Alaska! As you know Friend, Autumn happens to be my most favorite season of all the year. Quinn and I just hiked our favorite trail yesterday - up to the top of the Eaglecrest ski area - and already the bright coppers, golds, and amber tones of fall are gilding the alpine landscape. I was reminded of last year at this time and of the fun we had had. Yesterday was not nearly as lovely as the day last September, almost a year ago now, that the three of us (for Greta of course came along) hiked the same trail, picnic basket in hand. It was a gorgeous evening, and the sun was shining low in the sky. Very soon the late afternoons would grow dark, but for now at least a little bit of summer remained...

Looking at the photo above, I am now realizing I missed a golden opportunity to run out into the muskeg and whirl around singing "The hills are alive - with the sound of music!" Oh well, perhaps next time!

Now, let's play Quinn and I's favorite game: Spot the Corgi! 
I know, it's not a very hard game now - but just you try it when the snow sets in and the snow drifts become taller than little Greta. It gets hard quick, I can assure you!

Poor Quinn had to deal with two lolly-gaggers the whole hike, when he just really wanted to get up to the top so he could start munching on the picnic. I was off taking photos (and perhaps trying to take a short break unnoticed), whereas Greta was off inspecting every marshy hole and fallen tree near the trail. She helped me find some lovely spots off the beaten path and down at her level.

Here's Quinn and Greta taking a short break on one of the ski lifts, enjoying the view so far!

As we hiked up higher and higher I made a little bouquet of leaves and other findings - including a feather or two. It was about this time that we were getting quite hungry for dinner and all the delectable things packed away in the picnic basket...but have no fear, we were nearly there!

We made a quick stop at a lake (Greta's favorite swimming spot) and I dunked my feet in the cold water to give them a respite from hiking. We often spend happy afternoons here in high summer, swimming and splashing around, but we were so close to the top - so this time we didn't linger - up the trail we went!

The alpine meadows were just breath-taking in all their abundant colors. I asked Quinn to snap a photo of me sitting in the heather when out of nowhere Greta arrived and attacked me with kisses! I wasn't sure I would survive - I was laughing so hard!
We climbed up above the lake, which looked quite small now that we were so high (isn't the blue water beautiful?). As we hiked over the last bunch of rocks we were met with a glorious sight in either direction!

We could see for miles and miles in all directions around us, and a truly marvelous sight it was.

After exploring a bit we found the perfect spot to have our picnic, and so we sat down to enjoy the view and the food we had packed: several different types of cheeses and some crackers, grapes, peppered sausage, homemade smoked salmon, and a bottle of sparkling cider! It certainly felt like we were having a proper feast.

Greta had been off traversing the ridge line, not bothering about us, but as soon as the peppered sausage and the smoked salmon were unpacked, she stuck close and practiced looking adorable. We had packed her some dog biscuits, but they seemed like meager fare to her eyes compared to the feast we had laid out. I can't remember exactly, but I'm sure she didn't hike home hungry, haha!

After enjoying our supper it was time for tea and cookies, made even more enjoyable by the colors of the nearing sunset.

Quinn had brought his pirate spyglass, a birthday present from me several years ago, and spied out the unknown shores across the water. No other pirates, or any navy ships, were spotted. It seems we were safe for a while.

I sipped my tea and read some favorite Beatrix Potter tales from a book I had just recently gotten at a used book store. Quinn kept watch with his spyglass and Greta jumped and hopped like a bunny through the heather. What a lovely way to spend an early autumn evening.

Soon - too soon it seemed to me - we started our hike down the mountain, the sun shedding its last rays as we ducked under the mountain peaks.
And as we watched, the golden hues gave way to dark blues and chilling shadows of gray. It was time to head home - to a toasty fire and another cup of tea before bed. 
I'm so happy Autumn is finally here!
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