Friday, May 22, 2015

Ice Cream Social

Evangeline, Karina, Keyla and Deonne chatting with Ellen B. (hidden on the right)
 It's always fun to get together with my Relief Society Sisters.  And, if there's Ice Cream involved, so much the better!

Yes, we all got together the other night to eat ice cream, share books, and make bookmarks.

Jessica chases after her little boy, Noah, while Adria works on a bookmark
It was a low-key activity.  We're a small bunch.  But it was a lot of fun.  We had the opportunity to talk a lot, which I really enjoy.

Laurel and Judie (standing) guided the bookmark activity
We also had the opportunity to make our own ice cream sundaes with all kinds of toppings, like fresh fruit, nuts, chocolate sauce, hot fudge and caramel.

Jeannie, Ellen I., and Mary Beth
I really enjoy these evenings with my Relief Society Sisters.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Norway in Full Bloom

My beautiful cousin Gro Lene with her hunk of a husband
According to a friend who lives there, it was a COLD 17th of May celebration this year in Oslo. They had to turn up the heat!  It sure looks beautiful, though.

The above photo is my cousin Gro Lene in her Norwegian folk costume, or bunad.  Isn't she lovely? She tells me her costume is from Telemark where her mother's family is from.  Beautiful!

(Remember the World War II movie, "The Heroes of Telemark"?  Yes, that Telemark.)

Her husband is also wearing a folk costume.  I think he's quite handsome in it!  Well, he's a nice looking man however you dress him.  I love my cousin.  I feel sad we haven't seen each other for umpteen years.

They were expecting guests after the parade:

Gro's table set for 17th of May festivities
I love that the table looks like it was done for a magazine photo shoot.  Amazing, isn't it?  This is how my mother used to do her tables as well.  This is how I was raised.

That made me think of my friends and our pending Memorial Day celebration.  As I looked at this table, I thought of our usual paper plates and plastic cups, forks and knives.

I think we Americans may have lost something in translation!  What do you think?

Monday, May 18, 2015

Summa Cum Infans

Jeff gets his Doctorate with Annika in hand
Boy, do I love this photo (above)!  It's my nephew-in-law Jeff getting his Doctorate from George Washington University.  It's also his daughter, one month-old Annika's, introduction to the world.  

I love the expressions on everyone's faces.  What is it about babies that does that to people?  Isn't it wonderful?  Wouldn't it be great if we could bottle the essence of that warm feeling we get when we see cute babies and use it whenever we feel low?

Annika at the DPT Ceremony
Annika evidently went to all the graduation festivities.  Pretty cool for a NEW girl.  I hear she is extremely popular wherever she goes.

Annika at her Dad's commencement
My brother said he overheard someone talking about the "Class Baby".  I think that's adorable.  [When I first posted this, I wasn't aware that the Class Baby was a "thing" at GWU!  Apparently this is a tradition at the University.  Who knew?  - Well, now we do!]

Doctor of Physical Therapy and Baby of Inordinate Cuteness
No, he's not proud of that little girl!  Not at all.

The following day, the University's graduation convocation was held on the Mall in front of the Washington monument.  What a spectacular setting!

Graduation ceremonies are always exciting. This one, with such an historically significant venue seems even more so. The future awaits!

However, it looks like all the hoopla didn't impress little Miss Annika one iota.

Jeff, Linnea and baby Annika
But I see she was wearing her school colors for her first public appearance.  Way to go, Annika!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Hurrah for the 17th of May

Red, White and Blue Norwegian Flags
Photo: Scandinavian Kitchen
You may ask what the big deal is about the 17th of May.  The answer is imprinted deeply into every Norwegian ex-pat and American of Norwegian descent's heart:  It's Norwegian Constitution Day!

This is a big deal in Norway.

Every child in the nation will march in a parade on this day, carrying a red, white and blue Norwegian flag.  The whole country is awash in red, white and blue on this day. People will wear their national bunad costumes, like this award-winning Lier bunad which was designed by my mom's cousin's wife, Ruth Strand:

The apple blossoms of the Lier Valley are embroidered on this beautiful dress
Photo: Norwegian Bunad
It's lovely and heart-warming. It's a celebration of the nation's children and the goods things in life.

I've been lucky enough to spend a few 17th of May celebrations in Norway.  It's a lot of fun.

The 17th of May parade in Karl Johansgate in Oslo
Every school has its own banner
Photo: Aftenposten
In Oslo, every schoolchild, from the youngest elementary schoolchild, to the college-aged, will march up Karl Johansgate past the Royal Palace.  The King and his family, with great royal good will and a lot of stamina, stand on the porch smiling and waving to them the entire time.

This takes hours.

The only break comes from the silly college-age kids and their pranks, and the school marching bands which are interspersed among the children from their school.

Then, everyone goes home to eat hot dogs with mustard, wrapped in potato tortillas, followed by some ice cream.

Seriously.  Everyone does that.

The King's Palace at the 17th of May
Photo: Norway's Official Website Abroad
 Looking for ways to be more Norwegian?

Here in the Los Angeles area there's a 17th of May celebration every year at the Norwegian Seaman's Church in San Pedro.

This is a true Norwegian 17th of May celebration at the church with a parade around the neighborhood, traditional Norwegian food (pølser, rundstykker, brus, bløtkaker, marsipankaker, og kaffe), speeches, and of course games and ice cream for the kids.

If you live in Minnesota, I'm sure it's even easier to find a celebration!

For 18 ways to be more Norwegian, check out this hilarious (and very true!) blog post from the Scandinavian Kitchen in London through this link:

Bløtkake with berries
Photo: Norway's Official Website Abroad

Have a great weekend, everyone!

For more information on the country of Norway, check out Norway's official website abroad:

Thursday, May 14, 2015

TBT: In the WayBack Machine

My Great-Grandfather Nils with his wife Margrethe surrounded by their children and grandchildren
For Throwback Thursday, let's take a little trip back in the WayBack Machine to the turn of the last century.

The photo above is of my father's side of the family.  You see my great-grandfather Nils in the middle.  He was originally from Ringasaker, Norway.  His wife, Margrethe, is next to him on the right.  She came from the Danish island of Bornholm.

They met in Salt Lake City, and eventually settled in the Mancos/Kline area in the LaPlata mountains of southwestern Colorado.

My grandfather Axel Hermand is standing in the back on the far right.  His wife Pearl is seated in front of him (next to Margrethe), holding my Uncle Clifford on her lap. Pearl was still a teenager in this photo!  She had married Axel at age 15 and had Clifford the following year.

Nils and Margrethe's daughters were Agda Kjersti, Evine Christine, Dagmar Constance and Hilda Margrethe.  The children in the photo are Agda and Evine's I believe. Nils and Margrethe actually had eleven children, but only five lived into adulthood.

My Uncle Wendell writes:
Margrethe had a happy home, even though Nils was very strict with the children. There, on the 17th of July 1895, twins were born to Margrethe, but they did not live. This greatly saddened Margrethe and Nils, making five of their children who had passed away in infancy. Nils took their tiny bodies to their old farm in Jackson for burial. On the way home he camped overnight among the pinions east of Red Mesa. There he unburdened his sorrow in prayer and pleaded for a knowledge of the reason why so many of their children were taken from them. That night he dreamed that he was at a large banquet. He was very busy waiting on the guests. The long banquet table was loaded with good things to eat. At the end of the table sat Christ Himself. When Nils approached Him, Christ told him that he would be waited on after awhile. Upon awakening Nils felt cheered and comforted.

Nils and Margrethe were faithful Latter-day Saints who endured many hardships in their lives. Through all their trials, they buoyed each other up and remained firm in their faith.  They both passed in 1939, having been married for nearly 60 years.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

La Femme Nikita's... Birthday!

Ivy, Nikita and Sabrina
For her birthday celebration this year, Nikita asked if we could go to Bollini's Pizzeria Napoletana on Garfield in Monterey Park.  It's not far from the office, and the thought of Italian food made everyone immediately say, "Yes!  Let's go!".

Checking out the menus
Veronica, Ana and Laura
I'd never been to Bollini's before.  It was charming on the inside and packed with a boisterous luncheon crowd.
Sabrina and Yours Truly
It didn't take me long to peruse the menu. I was in the mood for pasta.  So were others in our group.  Veronica and Ana ordered a pizza to share.  It came out first, looking hand-tossed, crispy and totally yummy.

Our waiter was a nice guy.  I'm surprised he heard any of our orders with all the ambient noise from other diners.  It's a noisy place.
Our waiter
When our pasta orders finally arrived, I was delighted that my pasta carbonara was served with the egg on top!  You can't see it in the photo, because I had already mixed it into my pasta before I remembered to take a picture.  But it was really authentic carbonara, guys! Pancetta!  Peas!  Silky sauce! Really yummy!

My pasta carbonara
I'm not sure what everyone else ordered, but when they saw me get out the camera, they showed me their dishes:
Laura ordered what looks like a spaghetti dish
Everything looked very tasty.  After the photo op, we all attacked our pasta with great gusto.
Sabrina chose penne pasta in what might have been an arrabbiata sauce
Someone at the table next to us was also celebrating a birthday.  The balloons lent a festive air to our corner of the restaurant.
Birthday Balloons at a neighboring table
We always enjoy going out together.  I love these good women.  They are a joy to work with.

Veronica, Ana and Laura posing prettily
Hope you had a great birthday, Nikita!  It was fun celebrating with you.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Pink Roses and Strawberries

My mom and a pink rose.  
Mother's Day is a day I mostly dread.  I'm sorry.  It's just a tough day for me, and I know I'm not alone in that.  So, imagine my total surprise when Mother's Day turned into a very lovely day for me this year.

First there was the chocolate and pink roses at our church services.  (What's not to like about chocolate and roses?)  

Then there was a lovely dinner and good time with friends.  And by lovely dinner, I mean really YUMMY.

Couscous and veggies
I really loved both the garlic chicken and the delightful couscous with butternut squash, zucchini and carrots.  I could eat that every day.  (My neighbor is a great cook.)
Garlic Chicken
 Then, we played a rousing game of Yahtzee!

Going for that high score!
It's been a long time since I've played Yahtzee!

Our handsome and accomplished Chef contemplating his next Yahtzee move
We also ate a considerable amount of chocolate covered strawberries for dessert.  These were prepared by the Young Women in our Ward as a camp fundraiser.  They were REALLY GOOD. I don't know where they get their strawberries, but these were huge, juicy and quite flavorful.

Chocolate Covered Strawberries!
I was not expecting anything out of the ordinary this Mother's Day, and was very much resigned to soldiering through it... so this very wonderful day came as a delightful and a complete surprise.  My thanks to everybody who helped make it so very special.  (Judy, Laurel, George, Peggy!)

You guys are the BEST.