Friday, August 30, 2013

Come on, Let's Play!

Playing Grocery store is fun from both sides of the counter
The Discovery Gateway Children's Museum is located in the Gateway Mall in downtown Salt Lake City. Fredrik discovered it's a fun place to play!

I remember loving to play like this when I was a kid.  I would have really had fun in this place when I was 4 yrs-old. However, as an adult, grocery shopping hasn't the same allure!

I have no idea what this contraption (above) is, but it looks like fun!

The Children's Museum has all kinds of interactive, hand-on exhibits for children to learn and play.

Playing - that's the best way to learn, don't you think?

I remember having some fun miniature versions of real-life items.  But my favorites were always my dolls.

Barbie and Ken
I had my Tiny Tears and my Miss Revlon dolls.  But the best was that wanton charmer, Barbie.  My mother used to quip, "That doll has more clothes than I do!"

There was one year I got a little oven that actually baked cakes.  I remember it being similar to this one:

I believe I was 8 years old at the time.  I also got a little washing machine that didn't actually wash clothes, but was awfully cute.
Isn't the wringer on top a funny thing to see now?

What was your favorite thing to play or play with as a child?

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Glimpses of London

Beautiful Eva (left) and the munchkins
I have a dear Norwegian friend named Eva who is currently living in Australia.  I haven't seen her for more years than I care to count, but we keep in touch through electronic media (hooray for technology!).  Eva recently ventured back to Norway for a visit, and then took a quick trip down to London with her friend Greta and their daughters, just for the shopping.

The Tourist Jam around Buckingham Palace
Well, shopping and sightseeing!

One of the famous Coldstream Guards
Wouldn't you like to just bop on down to London for a little shopping?

Yeah, me too.
Close-up of the gates at Buckingham Palace

I love those big black cars
Here come the horse guards!  Cool.

Good thing the traffic lights can accommodate the horses!

Don't you just love this?
 Then lets take a stroll through the park...                   

I really love London.  It's a a beautiful and fun city.

Marble Arch

I had a Sassoon hair cut in the 60s.  I was cool back then.
For about 5 minutes
A bronze plaque (below) to say Hooray for Shopping!  Selfridges is a famous department store.

And of course, it wouldn't be a trip to London without seeing a red double-decker bus!

The famous London double-decker buses

I have no idea what some of these shots are, but they give you a feel for the city.  (Hey, if you know what they are, write and tell me!)

After all that walking, it's time for a break!

Eva having lunch
For all you Doctor Who fans, too bad we couldn't have gotten them to take a photo of a blue Police Call Box.  However, I've heard they are getting hard to find.

Now that everyone seems to have cell phones, even the red phone booths may soon become a thing of the past.
Greta and her daughter
Thank you, Eva, for sharing your photos with us.  It's always nice to take a little armchair trip to somewhere far away!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Eclipse Chocolate

My friend Nate at Eclipse Chocolate
A friend and I took a trip down to San Diego recently to see her nephew and his little family.  We were lucky enough to have a great lunch at a cafe called Eclipse Chocolate.

Now, any place that has the word chocolate in its name can't be bad!

And any place that has a chocolate happy hour... well, need I say more?

Chocolate Happy Hour Weekdays 4-7 p.m.
This place was fabulous!

The first thing I tried was the hot chocolate.

I ordered Burnt Chili Caramel Hot Chocolate.  I like things spicy!  I'm lactose intolerant, so I was overjoyed to be able to have it made with soy milk.

It came with homemade marshmallows!

Now, my only problem with the way they served it, is that the marshmallows melted against the side of the hot cup.  I ended up with marshmallow all over me.  Now, no one else in my party had this problem, so I think it was just ol' klutzy me!

Burnt Chili Caramel Hot Chocolate with marshmallows
This stuff nearly took my  breath away at first sip!  I had to hurriedly reach for my water glass.  However, as you kept sipping, it settled down to a lovely, spicy chocolaty goodness.

Once you've have chili hot chocolate, friends, you don't want to go back!  It's a delightful adult beverage.

If you want to try it at home, here's a recipe I found that may come close to what Eclipse serves up:

Chili Hot Chocolate
  • 7 cups soy, skim, 2% or whole milk
  •  1 vanilla bean, split, seeds removed and reserved
  •  1 long red chili pepper, split
  • 1 tablespoon chili flakes
  •  1 cinnamon stick
  • 12 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
  •  pinch salt


  • 1 cup whipped cream


  1. Heat milk in a large pot over medium to low heat.
  2. Add vanilla seeds, vanilla pod, chili, chili flakes, and cinnamon stick.
  3. Stir mixture with a wooden spoon scraping bottom and sides of pot ensuring milk does not burn.
  4. Allow to simmer for 15 minutes.
  5. Strain milk into another large pot and warm over medium to low heat.
  6. Once milk mixture is hot, add chocolate in batches to pot, whisking to incorporate.
  7. Season with a pinch of salt.
  8. Ladle into mugs (Serves four)
  9. Add a dollop of whipped cream before serving.
I can't wait to try this recipe!  However, I may wait until the weather cools off a bit.

Nobody Knows the Truffles I've seen...
I loved the shirts the wait staff wore!  They were really cute.  Our waitress kindly let me take her photo.  She was a real cutie.

As for lunch itself, I ordered a panini that came with homemade ciabbata bread and was filled with avocado, bacon and tomato.  It was served with a chocolate laced Dijon-style mustard.  Yummy!

Others in our party ordered Quiche.  It was made with a delightfully light puff pastry - a pleasant surprise!

Puff pastry quiche 

Finally, for dessert... a strawberry shortcake with puff pastry on the bottom, that was covered in real cream topped with fried basil and sea salt. 

There were ooohs and aaahs from everyone over this dessert.

Eclipse Chocolate is located in the South Park area of San Diego, California.  It's a small place with an emphasis on organic and healthy foods.  They make their own truffles.  They offer vegan dishes, and at least one gluten-free pastry.

Find them on the web at

All I can say is YUM.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Around Eskilstuna, Sweden

The gang's all here!  Christian, Jeff, Linnea, Kirsti, Nils and Anders
Family vacations are one thing, but when you take the family half-way around the world... well, that's a whole different thing all together.

Yup, my family was all over in Sweden this summer, and I was... here.  In California.  

I'm trying not to be pouty about it.  Actually, what I love about my brother is that he shares with me all the fun things that they are doing, and he has sent all these lovely photos, too, so it makes it much easier to deal with me not actually being there with them!

Brothers Nils and Anders
Family vacations can be wonderful and rewarding experiences.  I'm so happy that my niece and nephews have been able to experience traveling in Scandinavia.  Since we are mostly Norwegian, and my sister-in-law is mostly Swedish, you can perhaps see why this is important to our family.

Amend that to brothers Christian, Nils and Anders
They had run out of blond genes by the time Christian was born.

I'm glad at least one kid looks like me!

They still all look Scandinavian.  It's in the genes.

Eskilstuna, Sweden, is a beautiful place.

Grandparents Britt and Merwyn
aka Mormor and Morfar
Or, as the kids call them: the Morfs.

Nils looking studly

A typical Swedish church

Linnea and Jeff
This was Jeff's first visit to the land of his wife's heritage.  I'm glad he had this experience.  It will help him better understand and appreciate all the Swedish (and Norwegian) stuff he has in his home.  Like Trolls and Dala horses.

And having to celebrate Christmas Scandinavian style with pickled herring and saffron rolls.

Just saying...

Linnea and Jeff had just landed from a very long airplane ride in these photos, so the family was trying to keep them awake.  You don't really reset your internal time-clock if you don't stay up and then go to bed when the natives do.  So, that explains why they look tired.  Not saying they're not a handsome couple.  They're just usually a bit perkier.

Eskilstuna grew around a monastery (long since gone) and was named after a Christian Priest named Eskil. He must not have been very popular with the natives. Some pagan Viking types from a nearby town stoned him to death.  Poor fellow. After all that, I'm glad they at least named the town after him.


I love this picture (above).  It makes me want to jump in.  Or go walking under those trees.  Or take pictures, or something.

Obviously a water nymph doing her thing

Another water nymph?
Kirsti posing by the water

Anders and Christian among the ruins

Oops!  6 p.m.  Time to go!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Wheeler Farm

The Wheeler Historic Farm sits on an acreage that has been farmed since 1853.  In 1969 it was sold to Utah County and was finally placed on the National Historic Registry.

Fredrik and Livia got to visit the farm this summer and had a good time seeing all the animals there.

Pidgeons and ducks vie for some good eats

Mama with her little ones

This goose is almost bigger than Fred!

Wheeler Historic Farm does not bill themselves as a "petting zoo".  It is still a working farm, which means that its animals serve an agricultural purpose.

Their literature says:

Unlike animals you encounter in your daily travels, our farm animals are not pets.  They are not domesticated and may likely think your fingers are carrots.
Good to know!

I'd like to keep my fingers, thank you very much.

Livia with her mommy enjoying the duck pond

The Farm brochure goes on to say:

...please do not feed your fingers (or other items) to the animals!
Livia had fun watching the ducks.

Livia finds the ducks very interesting

...very very interesting

Cows grazing placidly

Our little cutie pie posing for the camera.  What a lovely day this was!

Livia decides to push her big brother around!

What a beautiful scene!

This concludes our visit to Wheeler farms!