Saturday, August 21, 2010

It was a good start on our Sweden visit dream....

The Swedish folks are partying right now. Late summer meals of crayfish with lemon and dill are being enjoyed with family and friends in what I hear is balmy weather. The tradition is centuries old, and has songs and customs that go along with the feast.
Our Swedish friend Janitha in Houston has flown back to Sweden to visit with her family and I've been told that her mom Pia got an early start on Crayfish partying sans funny hats and singing.
Janitha and we have had CRAWDADS in Houston a few times; where the red "mud bugs" are served hot, both in temperature and in seasoning.
Janitha told us about how the Swedes served CRAYFISH with lemon and dill. I had been dying to try the Swedish version ever since.

IKEA to the rescue!!!!

All you can eat Crayfish for $9.99?

We're there!!!

The price included the funny hat and an adorable bib.
(Don't you love how the crayfish pinching the moon's nose?)

IKEA staff were on hand to show newbies how to shell the red treat, but we were already old hands after all our Texas Crawdad feasts.

Take another look at the lovely red treat...

But more than crayfish were featured at this party: there was also all-you-can-eat Swedish meatballs and lingonberries, mash potatoes, THREE kinds of pickled herring (I love pickled herring!) and Swedish cheese, and crackers with a thick cheesy spread, and two kinds of desserts: one was an apple cake and the other a dark chocolate covered almond type cake. Plus lingonberry soda to drink as well.

A feast indeed it was!

Two musicians filled the air with Swedish melody.
We were seated right in front of them; I was bold enough to ask if the music they were playing was really known in Sweden.
I was assured that this was a well known favorite....I'll leave it to Pia or Janitha to verify this!

When IKEA said "All you can eat" they meant it! People were piling up crayfish on trays and then going back for more.

(It looks like a ton of food on those trays, but actually only the meat in the tail is consumed, a piece the size of a large almond.)

We were told that the store planned on selling 150 tickets. In the end....280 people had joined in on the party! The staff graciously made more everything (or rather, defrosted....) so no one was turned away.

All the IKEA stores across America had Crayfish Parties this past Friday evening.
(They do this every year; be on the look-out for invitation announcements in August.)
A good time really was had by all, and IKEA also invited everyone to attend a Christmas Smorgasbord on Dec. 10th
That date is now reserved on our calendar.
Now...what I really want and also plan to do:
Go to Sweden and have this same meal only this time enjoy eating it with real Swedes.
It will happen.
Bernie and I have promised each other.
And Pia says she would be happy to have us come.
(I'm hoping to see pictures of her parties on FB soon!)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Petite fille dans un chapeau

For a lifetime of baby soft skin, begin wearing hats as a baby.
Age five months is a fine age to begin to discover your personal hat style.
Be bold...
Be romantic...
Be elegant...
Be eye catching.
Have you started to think of about what hat you will be wearing this fall?
(My friend's 5 month old daughter is the youngest HFP that I have ever seen!)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Liberty Park: Not In the Snow

I kept my promise to myself: I went back to Liberty Park to see what it looked like in summertime.

The only other time I have visited, the place was knee deep in snow.

Now the green house flowers bloom outside, the merry-go-round and Ferris Wheel spin with tunes from early in the last century. Simply enchanting.

A series of water features splash and run down waterways named after the seven river/canyon combinations found in the Salt Lake area. Mill Creek is the name of the canyon closest to my house.

Big Cottonwood, which is the longer of the two Cottonwood Canyons.

Little Cottonwood....

With water cascading down from a fount up high.

The Provo, Red Butte, um...Emigration Canyon creeks and one more race down to a final pond in the shape of the Great Salt Lake.

The play area was a gift from a donor who once played in Liberty Park as a child. I envy both the long ago child and the children who are playing so freely today.

I'll never be a child in Salt Lake City and now I wonder if I will ever remember the names of all seven canyons and streams since I am too old to explore them on this micro scale model.

Children scramble to splash and dip in the cool water on this very hot day.
The green house faces the water features, with clouds that clearly have simply decorative value.

I did mean to visit the green house in winter, when I could have gone inside with a jug of hot tea and a book and spent a quiet spell just enjoying being settled in with the sprouting plants in the glass filtered light.

Now the doors are locked and the house is bare.

The winter seedlings have come to maturity and are residing outside for all to enjoy.

Near the three amusement park rides is a snack bar with all the classic picnic/fun time treats at the ready.

The teenage girl with a wide smile and blue nail polish seemed pleased to work serving food that made people happy.

The Utah Folk Art Museum was opened too.

The old house, now air condition, drew me in for a spell.

What tiny seed beads were stitched to create roses on white leather riding gloves!
Someone else had chosen to spend some of her life's hours winding silken strands around balls to create patterns.

Another knitted a sweater using a traditional Scandinavian pattern.

It was good to see these folk arts still being produced by people who find pleasure in fine craftsmanship.

Other people, with the same number of hours to spend, relax with a friend and a quickly dissolving snow cone creation. Perhaps they create memories instead of crafts: snow cone and checkerboard time is just as special kind of creation for them.

Liberty Park. I visited it during my lunch break on Tuesday, when I was sleepy and bored with my grown up duties at work.

I needed a bit of Summer Time freedom.

It was really, really hard to walk away from the freedom and fun that a handful of people were, without a care, experiencing.

As I left I made another promise to myself: One day, when B. and I no longer have jobs to attended to, we will spend an August weekday afternoon in the shade of a Liberty Park tree, while sucking on snow cones and playing checkers, and maybe even splashing in the water features a bit.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Treater and Napper come for a visit

It was two years in the making. Vicki and Doc who live in Florida have been promising that they would come visit in SLC as soon as the details could be worked out.

A work related conference near by, and they found themselves able to hop a short flight to SLC, come for a weekend visit and then head up to the rest of their vacation in Yellowstone.

Friday they arrived late in the afternoon. While Vicki and I had gotten to know each other via blogging, via our cat's blog, and Facebook, our husbands had never exchanged a single communication. That situation was remedied instantly; the guys both love golf and it didn't take long for them to establish a bond.

We chatted for about an hour then we drove them up to Albion Basin to see the wild flowers. That's Vicki in the first picture, posing in the posies.

A butterfly was also posing nearby...staying perfectly still for the longest time!

As the sun retreated behind the mountains we discussed where we wanted to go for dinner. They hadn't tried Indian food before, so we decided to take them to our favorite Indian buffet where they could sample a variety of traditional foods from India.

The crescent moon hung over head; the first stars were twinkling as we pulled up to the restaurant.

Surprise #1: Our jaws dropped open as we beheld about 50 Islamic men in lined up outside the restaurant, reciting prayers and kneeling with their head to the ground and their backsides pointing up.

"That's not Mecca that they are facing," Bernie commented. "They are facing toward Park City."

The restaurant was hired for a private event related to the Muslim's Ramadam fast breaking so we went to another restaurant instead. We mentioned to the waiter that this was our second choice, and about the prayers that were being said towards Park City.

The waiter quipped "A lot of people think that Park City IS Mecca you know..."

Anyway, we got a delicious meal and chatted happily away for quite awhile.

Next morning (Saturday) we enjoyed a bit of time on the deck, had breakfast, then went to explore Mormon landmarks. Temple Square did not disappoint!

Surprise #2: Incredibly, the church headquarters (a tall high rise) had it's 44th floor observation deck open to the public! We got an amazing view from up there; I had never gone up there before.

We toured Brigham Young's house, and had lunch before going on to see the Cathedral of the Magdalene, where (another small surprise!) a Saturday afternoon Mass in Spanish was going on.
At the "Passing of the Peace"the congregant shook hands, and a sweet older man shook each of our hands as well.
We toured the State Capitol then headed back to home as the day was getting quite warm.
We then happily lounged around the deck, where Doc gave me a lesson on how to use the telescope that Bernie had given me two birthdays ago.
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Surprise #3: Using the telescope, he took this picture of a hiker hiking along the top ridge of Mt. Olympus! How cool is that?

Around 7 we were ready for a picnic dinner. A 10 minute drive had us up in Mill Creek Canyon, dining on fried chicken and pasta salad (store bought, both...too hot to cook, too little time!) at a picnic table in the forest just above a rushing stream

(um...that would be Mill Creek. Yes it would. Duh.)

We drove home via a short detour to Neff's Canyon where the last gleamings of sunset colored the sky over the glittering city on the valley floor.

Sunday we played hooky from church, then after breakfast (and more goofing off on the deck) we drove up to Little Cottonwood Canyon to Snowbird where we took the tram up to the mountain top. It was the same ride that we took with Gail on July 4th, yet the whole place looked different now.

The meadows looked like God had spilt paint down the mountainside.

Surprise #4: A dust devil formed and spun down the the mountainside, tracking up, down and sideways before finally unwinding just ahead of us.
Critters were packing for the upcoming winter.
Cute, huh?
Doc was game to take side paths, filming and shooting pictures in every direction.
I absolutely loved this little path!
Our vocabulary shrunk to basically "cool!" "wow!" and "unbelievable!"
I do love how mountains rear up formed of many colors of soil.
The tram took us up to what felt like was the top of the world; we chose to then hike down a rather slippery path to the ski lift chairs for the trip back down.
Just mosey and take your need to there are pictures to take everywhere!

Bernie hiked in flip flops!
It was hard to believe that we just met these folks less than 48 hour earlier!
We did find the light at the end of the tunnel that everyone talks about...just so you know!
What else did we do?
Doc and "the boys" (Tiggie and Hart) became very good friends.
After all, Tigs, Hart and their Spooky have been writing back and forth via blogdom for a few years now.
The four of us spent a lot of time just hanging out and getting to know each other.
After a week at a medical conference and getting ready for a two week vacation, they needed the break!
Vicki and I have been cheering each other on for over three years now.
We met via blogdom through a rather convoluted bit of blog hopping.
We both put our houses on the market and relocated about the same time, and prayed for each other as the housing market slumped, as we camped out in temporary quarters, then bought houses needing kitchen and bath remodeling.
We wrote back and forth about Sherwin William paint colors, granite counter top selections, and we selected identical kitchen faucets too!
Sometimes the best kind of friend is the one who is in the middle of the same life challenges.
Let me tell you though: it is totally sweet to find ourselves able to say hello and hug each other in real life, knowing that that light at the end of the tunnel was now all around us.
Through all the challenges, God was with us, and we came out the other side just fine.