Monday, April 30, 2012

Do I keep my smiles in the bank?

Have you ever felt "outside"?
That's the name of the water color today. Sad really, probably the saddest picture I have painted.
It's possible to feel alone in a crowd and it's possible to be content all alone.
But if we see someone who feels like the little bird on the left, we should go over and say hello.
I have done it - not always with great success, I must say, but I believe it's important if someone looks sad and alone, to try to give them some attention, share a smile and some love.
What do we need all the smiles and love for if we don't share them? Put them in a bank? Save them for later? Hope they multiply if we keep them long enough?
No, smiles and love should be shared and spilled and thrown at everyone in your way. That's the way to get more in return - and the way to be happy yourself!

Friday, April 27, 2012

I like the Rain!

My grandmother, Mimmi, which is actually the name my grandchildren call me, wrote a diary. Every day she jotted down her observations of the weather. I found one entry that announced my birth, other than that it seems like the weather was the thing to remember and share.
I wish she had written more about her thoughts, her hopes and dreams, and her faith. Even though I enjoy seeing her handwriting, the weather is much the same today.

There's not much we can do about the weather, is it? Weather comes every day in one form or another. Even if I prayed for sun, maybe someone with a dry wheat field prayed for rain!
I am not weather-sick, which is what they call it in this country. I don't really worry much about the weather, nor do I watch the weather forecast. Yes, one thing is true and nailed to the wall - there will be weather. Nothing we can do about it, really.

The thing is, I enjoy different kinds of weather. Walking Hector in the rain is refreshing and wonderful, he jumps joyfully in puddles and his woolen coat grabs the dirt from the road like a magnet. I like walking him in a snow storm, seeing him hop in the piles of fluffy white stuff, feeling the stillness in my soul. I like playing outside with him on a beautiful sunny day, he'll be sniffing for mice and porcupines, truly excited about the smells and sounds of summer.
Variety is the spice of life. Different weather is refreshing. The only drawback in this country is that it is hard to plan on outside activities without adding a "reservation in case of rain" at the bottom of the invitation. You never know what it will be like.
But as a comfort to those who enjoy sitting inside on a rainy day like today, with a good book and a cup of hot chocolate, listening to the drops of rain hitting the patio or trees, maybe you would like to listen to some good music while you are at it:
"Laughter in the Rain" -"Crying in the Rain" - "Raindrops keep falling on my head" - "It's Raining Men" - "Rainy Days and Mondays" - or the Christmas song "Let it snow!"
There are so many, but my favorite is  "Singing in the Rain"

Today's water color is a stormy painting of Færder Lighthouse.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Being teachable!

Our grandson turned two last week and we were lucky to visit and celebrate with him. What he seemed to enjoy the most was his birthday song. We sang it several times and his mother said they had sung it over and over again before the guests arrived also.
The greatest joys in life are not bought with money! Here is a little 2 year old, who thinks that a birthday song for him is the most enjoyable part of his birthday. No wonder that we are told in the Scriptures to be as little children. We can learn so much from their innocence, forgiving ways and simple, joyful thinking.
Little children are teachable. I like the comparison that a young child is like a young limber branch of a tree, easy to bend. An older tree is dry and the branches break easily when you try to move them.
I want to be teachable. I love learning every day - not just academic things, but about people and personalities and love and charity and, and, and....There are so many wonderful people around us to learn from.
I am married to a man who is very different from myself. Yes, it's true what they say, that opposites attract - ( even though a Norwegian proverb says that children that are alike, play well together) - I tell him that if we are both willing to learn from each other, we will be better.

No art today - but a photo from Easter vacation in the mountains.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Handbag or three?

Do you own a handbag, a purse, a bag of some sort? Or 5? Or maybe 10?
Many of us like having a variety of bags and purses, something to carry our most precious treasures in.
One of the things I get frustrated about is to dig into a bag/purse, and even though my hands and fingers search for certain items, I have to empty the bag to find what I am looking for.

Do some of the following statements apply to you and your purse(s)?
It gets to sit next to you in a restaurant, church, or wherever you are.
It sits on the floor next to your bed at night.
It matches certain clothes and outfits.
You don't go out of the house without it.

I went to a Relief Society Birthday celebration a few weeks ago. About 120 women aged 18 to almost 100 were there. We played a "purse-game" and the ladies were asked to raise their hand if they had certain items in their purse: an air plane ticket, a chewing gum, a tool, a fruit, a pair of pantyhose, a passport, chocolate....amazing how some women had almost all the things asked for - and the list was long!.

So, can your purse tell someone who you are? Is your purse a part of you, a part of your identity?
Even though a purse contains an unnecessary assortment of mess (referring to mine), we value it and guard it with our lives.
I find it boring to have to switch purses, and tend to put it off. Right now I have a tiny purse with a long strap, It weighs almost nothing when I hang it on my shoulder, but even then - I still struggle to find things in it. It amazes me how that can be....

The drawing today is of Alice Babs, a Swedish singer, drawn for a magazine article. It reminds me of dancing at a ball in Vienna, Austria, and I had a small party handbag hanging on my wrist. Suddenly in a twist and turn around the floor, the strap slipped and slid over and landed on my dance partner's wrist instead. He was not happy about it - carrying purses was not his thing!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Herbal teas for your health

When I grew up I was fascinated with the children who were praised for writing good essays. I really wanted to write too. I remember one time my teacher told about a student who had started an essay with the words: "xxx (some author's work) is not really my cup of tea!" (referring back to my last entry about teflon brains, you may understand that I don't remember the name). What was so ingenious about this beginning? The teacher said that it was the fact that the author actually wrote about drinking tea.
I have often thought about that and how we put thoughts, words and meanings together and make it more interesting.
So this morning as I made a cup of tea for Arnfinn to ease his cough, this memory popped up in my head.
When I started working with health food almost a decade ago, the first challenge I gave myself was to learn about herbal teas and how to sell them. There are so many referrals to herbs in the scriptures, and I believe that God gave man herbs and plants for our use.
So try some delicious herbal tea. Use a fresh leaf from a home grown herb in the garden or the pot in the window sill, or buy a store bought tea bag designed with pretty pictures and colors. It may help if you have a stomach ache, cough, sleeping problem, lack of energy, etc. etc. And besides, it tastes good. I think it enhances the cozy atmosphere if the cup is pretty too.

Today's water color is "The Flower Farm". Daisies are in the foreground, they look a little like chamomile, an herb for so many uses!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Advice for teflon brains?

Exciting things happen even at night at the Duck and Cherry. My head is so full of words, that I wake up and hear these wonderful formulations and ideas for stories. The problem is that I don't want to wake up a sleeping husband, so I pick up the paper and pen (!) on the night stand and scribble undecipherable drawings and half-sentences in the dark.
There have been times when I have actually gotten up, drawn pictures or written an exciting dream just dreamt, but then I am so geared up and wide awake afterwards, so I try the writing in the dark approach.
The problem is that if I don't do anything, it will be forgotten when the rays of sunshine arrive in the morning and I wake to start a new day.
I have the same thing happen when I am out for walks with Hector, the Wheaten Terrier. Sometimes I can hear beautiful songs and melodies in my head, poetic lyrics and lovely music - sometimes it's an idea for a painting. By the time I get home, it's gone. Where did it go? Or rather, where did it come from in the first place?
I think we all have wonderful inspirational experiences. To always carry a pen and paper helps my teflon brain remember some of these, but many are lost into oblivion. Maybe the trick is to carry a small tape recorder as well?

Today's water color is called "The fishing boat" - an illustration for a children's book.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Putting off washing the dirty windows

Friday the thirteenth came and went yesterday. The clock did not strike a thirteenth time, nor did a black cat cross our road.
Superstition are funny in a creep-up-on-you kind of way. We all are influenced by old sayings and proverbs in one way or another - probably something we were brought up with, heard our grandmother talk about, or the little old lady next door.
I admit there are more than a few of these sentences that pop up in my head from time to time. Like cutting a piece of cake and it falls over, dropping a sandwich face down on the floor, walking under a ladder, opening up the umbrella indoors, etc. etc. Even though we can ignore what they mean, these sentences appear and make us think for a fragment of time, before we shrug our shoulder and go on with our tasks.
I hope there is no superstitious saying about dirty windows. The Duck and Cherry is suffering from my putting-off-washing-the-windows demonstration. Aghh, do I have to - today?
Such a cute little house should have bright eyes to the world. My fault! I'll get to it, OK?

Today's drawing is of the old city of Fredrikstad. My 9th great-grandfather, Wyllem Coucheron, designed the city and the fortress in the beginning of the 1660's.

Friday, April 13, 2012

A hair for every occasion

I am not really an "every-hair-in-place" kind of woman. I don't mind that strands of hair do their own thing and dance freely in the spring breeze. Probably one of the reasons why I like Hector's woolen coat, his funny beard and bushy look. Tailored is not really my comfort zone.
But I have friends who are like that - tailored, I mean. And that's great! Wonderful women who manage to keep those curls in place, who round up the dust bunnies every day and keep them contained in the dust bin behind a closed cabinet door. (mine seem to wander the territory of our home and graze on our floors - and multiply!)
I had a roommate in college (BYU), who had absolutely every strand of hair in place. She rolled her long hair on curlers in the evening, they were placed like a tower on top of her hair, so that she could comfortably lie down on her pillow. Then she put her special hair drier "hat" on and turned it on! Noisy? Yes, but effective. She could sleep (maybe?) and become beautiful at the same time. Next morning she spent two hours putting on her face, fixed her curls and she was ready to go.
Now, she looked stunning by the time she went to school. My two minutes in the mirror brushing my hair and adding some mascara to my eye lashes, did not come anywhere close to her perfect looks. I don't think I have the patience for that, but then again - I probably spent 8 hours writing yesterday. I could have divided my time a little more wisely also.
We are all different and that's exciting.
Come to think of it - I need a hair cut.

Today's water color is called "Stormy Evening" - sold at an exhibition many years ago.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Chocolate, yes please!

"I cannot live without chocolate", I heard myself say out loud this morning. What a ridiculous thing to say! Of course I can live without chocolate - life would just be less fun, less enjoying, less - well, many more things (I did not say less calories, even though it's true, but that is much too negative a statement for a happy column like this).
It does not help much that I have a magnet on my refrigerator that says: "Chocolate is proof that God wants us to be happy."
Anyway, in my book of life, chocolate does make me happy, it brings joy....
I thought I would share with you a few words of wisdom about chocolate:

1. Chocolate is vegetarian, made by cocoa beans = beans = vegetable
2. Chocolate contains milk = dairy product = healthy
3. Chocolate often contains raisins and other FRUITS, fruits you can eat as much as you want.
4. If your fingers get melted chocolate on them, you are eating too slowly.
5. If you worry that the chocolate will melt on the way home in a warm car, eat it in the parking lot.
6. Diet tip: Eat chocolate before all meals. It reduces the appetite and makes you eat less.
7. If you eat the same amount dark and white chocolate, your body will be balanced.
8. Chocolate contains antioxidants, which prohibits aging = chocolate makes you younger.
9. A box of chocolate covers your need for energy for the day = easy

I rest my case!
There you have it. Another list of wisdom from the Missus of the Duck and Cherry.
Do you have a favorite chocolate?

Today's water color is "The Fishing Cove".

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Food storage myths

Is storing food a good idea, necessary or a folly? Ants work hard all summer to save for cold winter's slumber party. Bears eat and hibernate till warmer days, many animals prepare for days ahead.
Leaders in our Church have told us for years that it is wise to have a storage of food and other important articles - and I believe them. I have always had extra food in the house, but the last few years I have really become a busy ant myself.
A while ago I experimented to see what I had in my food storage. After a week of baking bread, making dinners with tuna and canned tomatoes etc. I noticed how boring my storage was. There's a lot I need to make it an interesting pantry, ready to provide ingredients for healthy and yummy meals. I would like to repeat that experiment every so often - a very good way to find out what's missing.
I found this on an Internet site. To read the whole article go to

Top Ten Food Storage Myths

#10: The Government Will Give Me Food in an Emergency.
#9: I’ll Never Be in a Disaster Where I Need Food Storage.
#8: Food Storage Tastes Disgusting.
#7: Food Storage is a Pain to Rotate.
#6: To Live Off Food Storage I Have to Do Things Like Grind Wheat and Bake My Own Bread.
#5: Only Fanatics and Doomsdayers Get Food Storage.
#4: I Don’t Have Room For Food Storage.
#3: You’re Better Off Saving Money than Stockpiling Food Storage.
2: I Can Just Use the Food in My Fridge or Cupboards For Food Storage.
#1: Food Storage is Way Too Expensive and I Can’t Afford It.
I admit I have had thoughts like the above myths myself, but I am learning to think again.
Food storage is necessary and wise!
Every Monday I go grocery shopping with Anya and Linnea, two of our beautiful daughters. On the grocery lists we each have something for our food storage. We encourage each other and they inspire me as they always plan meals for the week. I love it!
Today's water color is of Split Rock Lighthouse, Minnesota, painted for Sean's mission president.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Keep those birds under control!

Last day of Easter vacation. There are so many things on the to-do-list of the Mr. and Mrs. at the Duck and Cherry today, but the weather is discouraging things like polishing the car, washing windows, working in the garden; so inside recreational activities are on the agenda instead. It's wonderful with a slow day now and then.
We have been blessed this Easter vacation with good friends and family members who invite themselves to visits at the mountain cabin and dinners here at home, when we have been too slow with the invites. Thank goodness that they have the will and wish to come and say hello. So 11 people and a dog at the cabin and dinner yesterday here at the Duck and Cherry with two of our children and their families makes this another unforgettable Easter. We have read from the New Testament, feeling grateful for the atonement and resurrection, gone for long walks in the mountain (not enough snow for skiing this year) and eaten tons of good food and Easter candy.
Here at home I still think about the anonymous threat letter writers, wondering where they live - and if they pass my house from time to time. If I had know where the they live, I could have written them a note asking them to keep control of the birds in the trees around their house, so that they don't keep my husband awake in the mornings. Now that would be a challenge!

Today's water color is called "Morning Sun" and reminds me of the neighbor's rooster - now there's one to prohibit sleeping in...but not me, I sleep anyway.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A telephone booth in our kitchen!

We have a telephone booth in our kitchen at the Duck and Cherry. Waste of space? No, not at all. Let me explain.
When I had the house built, I told the carpenter I wanted a pantry in the kitchen, a large one, the kind you can walk inside and turn around and have lots of shelves for food, even boxes if need be. The carpenter tried to talk me into putting in a kitchen cabinet instead, not used to pantries in Norway, but I did not give up and told him he could take part of my hallway to build it - I wanted a pantry! So he did as he was told (and paid to do) and built a nice pantry. My father made shelves and I was very happy.
Our kitchen phone at that time was on the wall next to the pantry. Every time someone wanted to speak privately, they dragged the cord inside the pantry and closed the door. I have spent much time in the pantry talking to Arnfinn on the phone, wondering why I didn't have more snacks in there.
Hence the name "telephone booth" for the pantry in our home, a title well deserved and known to all family members.
In this modern day and age we have other phones - cordless - and really don't have the same use for a telephone booth, but the name sticks. We like it.

Today's water color hangs in our cabin and is a typical Norwegian winter scene.