Welcome 2017 !

Have you ever wondered aloud? Where have the years gone?  

This painting is in remembrance of my Grandmother Rhoda, enjoying an evening with one of her lady friends.
The ladies never went out in public without
 proper hats and cotton gloves. 
Luncheon dates were de rigueur. Chatting and gossiping, black coffee with cream and sugar, thin sliced spam on crackers. 
Tall ice cream floats, in the deep heat of summer.

The pièce de résistance was the  monthly ladies' bridge club. Bridge was played with concentrated seriousness.
Card tables were set up in the living room surrounded by chintz slip covered chairs. 
Delicate crystal dishes filled with pink mints, mingled with crisp new playing cards,
on the tatted ecru linen table cloth .

My mind is filled with memories. 
I miss my Grandma Rhoda. 
She lived a few months shy of 100.

Where do the Years Go? 

Are you ever overwhelmed by the fleeting essence of  TIME?

May your New Year be filled with warm friendships, harmonious family relationships, meaningful work, spontaneous fun, compassion for all, a time to nurture one's self and a sense of inward peace.

Smiles: Sharon

So Much to Express.......HAVE

 a giving-Christmas, a joyful-Hanukkah, a spirited-Kwanzaa....and blessed traditions that you hold dear to your heart.
This is a Season to include ALL.  To want the very best for each and every human being.
And that means You and You and You.

Our Chicago, daughter and her daughter drove two days to come celebrate Christmas in our home. 
Today there is much visiting, cooking, baking and time to see the movie, Moana.
Maryland daughter and hubby had to stay behind, as their lovable dog, Dulcita had surgery two days ago.  All are doing well, but sadly can't travel. 
Charlotte, daughter and family live around the corner, easy peasy to celebrate any day of the year.
Utah, son and family...get to enjoy SNOW and icicles, preparing meals for others, taking Swedish Oven pancakes to family and friends...yep, they ran out of eggs a few times. Borrowed from a neighbor and found that they were spoiled!  Crazy-daisy experience. 
And right now, waiting for a face time call from Shanghai, from son and family who are celebrating Christmas early.
We will watch them open gifts, chat, laugh and giggle, all thanks to the wonder of the internet.

Aren't we blessed?  Indeed we are.

It has been an over flowing week, with such wondrous happenings.
Sweet friends full of kindness and good cheer visited, bringing their violins, keyboard and gifts to share the Christmas spirit.

There just had to be hot chocolate with mini marshmallows and peppermint sticks for stirring, topped off with German Lebkuchen heart shaped cookies and biscotti.  No "sugar highs" in our home!  
Hmmm, in fact, they do look a bit "sugared-out." 

For those who love to bake, this month's edition of SIFT is crazy-daisy good.  Even if you just look at it.  The cooky tin I painted decades ago, seriously. I bring it out every Christmas.  

Swedish embroidery, German cookies, Swedish Dala horse and a sketchbook of colorful traditions. The candlestick to the left, was a gift from a dear friend to me...she brought it from her recent trip to Denmark.  

Painting surprise presents for moms and dad in my studio.  We were busy busy busy creating ornaments and accompanying gift boxes.  Then one cutie boy, decided he wanted to draw dinosaurs...Anything goes in this room.

 Christmas tree elves pop up in the most unexpected places...we caught him before he ate the last of the lebkuchen cookies.  Brazen elf. 

Another gift, the Swedish braided heart from daughter and hubby...and the gift of a music program in Washington, DC, The Christmas Revels.  An all Nordic, annual Christmas program of dance and song.  (We took a train to DC last week and spent time with them, Dulcita and Lemon..(the pups.)  They treated us to this program that is a 20 plus year tradition at Lester Auditorium in DC.

Last week was Santa Lucia, and I have already posted about this Furner tradition.  My sister-in-law sent me this beautiful snowflake ornament, resembling a German cooky that is iced!  Just had to put them all together: Sweden and Germany.  

Tomptes can be rather mischievous, but they are less likely to do quirky tricks if stuck on a page !!!  
Sending you all a happy heartfelt December.

One of my favorite passages set to music by John Rutter.  Seems so appropriate today. 

The Prayer of St. Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred...let me sow love
Where there is injury...pardon
Where there is doubt...faith
Where there is despair...hope
Where there is darkness...light
Where there is sadness...joy
Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled...as to console
To be understood...as to understand,
To be loved...as to love
For it is in giving...that we receive,
It is in pardoning, that we are pardoned,
It is in dying..that we are born to eternal life.

If you research John Rutter /this piece of music and word, you will weep with me, and your heart will be filled.

With love, Sharon


It is a time of JOY when our grown up children, with children of their own, choose to celebrate traditions formed in their childhood.  One in particular originates in Sweden
Here is our story
Lucia, Child of Light, Sweden's beautiful Christmas tide celebration.
Santa Lucia Day holds for our family a true place in our hearts and family traditions. Grandmother Mimi Sorensen's ancestors came from Sweden. And perhaps that is one reason why this special day is loved by our family. Celebrated in Sweden on December 13th (and in many homes around the worl,) this is a day of honor and remembrance of a young woman, who was said to be born 300 years after the death of Jesus Christ. It is a story of truth, legend and mystery.

For our family, it provides us an unique opportunity to create our own family tradition.
Early in the morning mom would awaken Mindy, dress her in a long white dress with a red sash. On her head was placed a wreath of candles. Real candles were used until melted wax was a bit of nuisance. Carrying a tray of buns, our Santa Lucia would awaken her brothers and sisters. They would put on their cone shaped hats decorated with stars, paint and glitter and wear pastel colored gowns. Each was given a lit candle to care over. 
This was a MAGICAL moment.
Mindy would lead the little blurry-eyed troup about the upstairs hall into dad's bedroom. Sweet voices singing, each would hold a candle and hoping that wax wouldn't drip onto their fingers, they sang their daddy awake.
Dad would wake up to the surprise and join them.
The Second Magical Moment

Slowly, carefully, our little family would wind through our festively decorated home, which for some strange reason was lit only with candles and soft Christmas lights that gave off halos. 
Before each of our lovely Christmas decorations: the creche holding baby Jesus, the dancing music boxes, the hand painted wooden crate that held Advent surprises, the fireplace with its faux manger scene complete with baby Jesus laying on real straw, the Swedish goat and tomptes, and the dining room table set with blue and white china, and dishes of delectable foods, by each of these lovely areas we would sing a joyful Christmas carol.
We SANG our way through our Magical Home
...and we hoped nothing would catch on fire.

Each Santa Lucia Celebration was culminated with a wonderful breakfast of sausage, bacon and Swedish Oven Pancakes, hot chocolate and marshmallows...oh, and whipping cream and fresh berries piled on top of the pancake.

One Year I painted the tile (shown at the top) for each family.  However, the original recipe  comes from a 1974 Sunset cookbook, Scandinavian Cook Book. Seeing is believing...the condition of this book is a testament of sorts, to how often we made these oven pancakes.  In fact we had them last week to celebrate our daughter's birthday.


It seems like yesterday, we were walking the cobbled streets of quaint Bavarian villages acting like children given too much candy to eat. Indeed eye candy abounds from  magnificent storybook paintings embellishing stuccoed walls, Hansel and Gretel cottages, crooked chimneys spewing real wood smoke, geraniums popping up like dandelions, feather comforters hanging over timbered railings basking in the sun, bratwurst with German mustard, thick pretzels and lebkuchen cookies, centuries old store fronts beckoning us to enter and indeed we did way too many times.

Each Christmas I pull out my precious little cache of card size German Christmas books. Can't read a single word of German, but the paintings tell their story on the walls of my mind. I am so delighted to share the covers of these little tiny pieces of art and see what your mind conjures up. There was a time in my art career when I painted these types of scenes, but that was so long ago I haven't a single photo to share.

I wish I could take you inside one of these books and share each wondrous  watercolor.   
Take Joy in your own Holiday Traditions.

For those so inclinded, sketchbooks are a super way to preserve those snippets of life that we love. 
A beautiful December to All
Smiles: Sharon