Little Stories – Holiday Happenings

California Redwoods National Park - photo by Soma Acharya



Hi Everyone!!  A very fond welcome to all my new and old visitors.  I have had quite an eventful winter break.  On two occasions, my husband and I first drove down to Southern California and then also to the north.  Apart from being outside and travelling, I have also been busy in my little atelier with sorting out projects, planning, painting, book binding, etc.   I LOVE to bake, so I have been playing with recipes too.  I have one to share with you today along with my other holiday happenings!



Katsushika Hokusai Fuji woodblock print - photo by Soma Acharya



This year I swapped out my snowshoes and outdoor boots with my city boots.  I was all set to go to the Eastern Sierra to play in the snow.  Then I found out at the last minute that Bowers Museum in Anaheim is hosting an exhibit of an extensive collection of  Katsushika Hokusai’s woodblock prints from the British Museum.  As a block printer myself, I could not pass up the chance to see these original prints up close.  Needless to say, it was an incredible visit and it happened to be on my birthday weekend.



Japanese ink Kakimori and Shikori Miruai - photo by Soma Acharya



Afterwards we visited a few book shops and stationary stores there.   I got several incredibly beautiful Japanese inks for my birthday from my husband.  I love the simple joy of playing with these inks and writing Japanese with a brush.   I am excited about using these inks for both writing with fountain pens and for drawing.



Juki Sewing Machine - photo by Soma Acharya



I recently got a new sewing machine.  To familiarize myself with the new machine, I started making something that is nothing fancy but very special – blankets for my kitties who love to sleep on them.   I “quilt” them with wavy lines.




Bobcat quilt pattern - by Soma Acharya

 I made this bobcat pattern for a school mascot as a custom order


I used to design paper piecing quilt patterns.  For non quilters, it is a type of pattern that enables me to create almost any picture with fabric, like this bobcat.   The challenge in writing these patterns is that every sewing line (seam) has to be a straight line.  The curves are all made of straight lines.  I start with drawing the picture and then start drawing lines where the seams will go.  Figuring out the way each piece connects to another is like creating a puzzle.

You can see my currently available patterns in my shop.   I took a break from designing patterns, but I am excited to say that during this break I started working on a new one.  I will share as soon as it is ready.



Compass Mariner's Star quilt pattern - by Soma Acharya



During the holidays, Rebecca Magee shared photos with me of this beautiful quilt she made.



Compass Mariner's Star quilt pattern - by Soma Acharya



She used my Compass Needle pattern for the stars in the middle.  Isn’t the quilt gorgeous?!! 




Truman Fruitcake recipe - photo by Soma Acharya



Due to severe food allergies, I can’t have store-bought fruit cakes and I am not really very fond of alcohol-steeped desert.  I recently happened on a recipe from the President Truman household that was posted by the National Park Service.  I made a few modifications to fit our taste and we really love it.

I am sharing both the original and my modified version with my notes.  I posted the recipe on this page all on its own so you can bookmark it directly.   I hope you like it.



California Redwoods National Park - photo by Soma Acharya



I usually make a “official” end to my winter break with a visit to the majestic Redwood forests along the California coast.   It is a very contemplative time for me.  I took this photo from the car one morning.   Not the best photo technically, but I love the atmosphere.



Redwood cone ink drawing - by Soma Acharya

Purchase handmade journals


At home, I finished a long-awaited drawing of the redwood cones collected from my own backyard in my nature journal which I made.


These are just a few things from my winter break.  I have so much more to share with you, from both my atelier and my  travels.  Thank you so much for continuing to visit me.   It is great to see familiar as well as new “faces” here.

Until next time,


I am linking up with the linky parties on my Events And Links page.  Please consider paying a visit to some of them.


Leave a comment


Warmth From The Poles

Quilted Penguin Pillow


Purchase Little Penguin Polaris Pattern


While we are being rain-starved here in California, I know most of you are probably tired of winter already.  I think my little penguin Polaris would heartily agree with you.  I made this pillow for Amanda and I recently realized that I haven’t shared it here.  This little penguin keeps on tugging on my sleeve and demanding that I make more copies of him.


I used purple for the scarf and hat since that is Amanda’s favorite color.  I don’t do a lot of  heavy quilting and I depend on my walking foot a lot.  I found this site showing wonderful quilting patterns done with the walking foot.  I used the wave design on the pillow and then quilted four straight lines on the border.


Amanda told me that her daughter claimed the pillow as soon as she opened the box.  You can see her photo on Amanda’s site – What The Bobbin.  Picture-perfect warmth and comfort!  My little penguin found a happy home, don’t you think?!  If you want to make him, you can find him in my shop.


From one pole to the other!  I love to cook.  A lot.  Stew is my favorite because nothing warms you up better than hot stew on a cold winter day.  Ever since I had Lapskaus in Norway, I wanted to replicate it at home.  It’s a very starchy stew where the potatoes become really mushy, leading to the starchy characteristic of the stew.  I looked for a few recipes on the web, but either the ingredients looked nothing like what we tasted, or it looked like way too much work for a simple, hearty stew.  So I decided to follow my own mouth and devise a recipe.





Ingredients –

1 stalk of celery – chopped
1 lb carrots – chopped (you can use any root vegetable you like)
1 medium onion – sliced
1 package of peas (I forgot to add them to mine this time)
5 – 6 medium to large potatoes – chopped in large chunks (I’ll explain a bit more about the potatoes in the recipe)
4 – 5 large cloves of garlic – minced (I like a lot of garlic)
Canola oil
2 tsp dried thyme
Salt – to taste
1 package of good beef broth (mine is 1 quart or 946ml in the USA)
3.75 lbs of stew meat of your choice – chopped






About the potatoes – starchier the better.  I use golden potatoes since I want them to mostly fall apart and thicken the stew, but still hold their shape a little.  If you want them to be mushier than that, I suggest you use baking potatoes.


To begin, I add a couple of tablespoons of oil in a dutch oven (I add more oil as needed to coat the vegetables).  First I fry the onions, I add them to the still-cold oil to reduce spatter.


Once the onions turn light brown,  I stir in the minced garlic making sure it doesn’t burn.  After that, I add the carrots, celery, potatoes and meat and cover all of it with the broth.  Along with salt I also add a couple of teaspoons of thyme, which is my most favorite herb.  I am pretty sure I sprinkle a little bit more on top of the initial two teaspoons!  I then stir everything together.  It’s easier for me to stir everything in the liquid, so I don’t bother stirring until I add the broth.  Once it comes to a boil, I turn the heat down to a simmer and let it cook for 3-4 hours or until the meat is completely tender.  This is my favorite way of making stew; all I vary are the vegetables, the spices and the meat.






Here’s my finished Norwegian Lapskaus.  It tasted exactly like what we had in Norway.  Next time I am adding a package of peas.  I am sure any Norwegian grandmother would shriek at my method of cooking this stew, but it sure tasted good and hearty on a cold winter day!






Leave a comment


Enter your email to receive new inspirations, product reviews and pro-tips
error: Content is protected !!