Livet är bra! (Life is good)

Ace, our resident foodie photographer, let us know that our glamping trip to Lindsborg, Kansas, would be extra special for her. Her family members are Swedish-speaking Finns and, well, why don’t I just let her tell it?

Take it away, Ace!

Uff da! Where to begin? Lutefisk and köttbullar (Swedish meatballs) have been a Christmas tradition in my farmour’s (grandmother’s) house my whole life.

My farmour, Ingegerd, was born in Jakobstad, Finland, a Swedish-speaking border town in Finland. And my farfar (grandfather), Edwin, was raised by his Finnish immigrant parents in logging camps in northwest Washington.


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  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Ace, thank-you for sharing your family heritage with us! My husband’s family is 100% Norwegian and I have so enjoyed learning about the Scandinavian traditions too. This summer we will visit Norway and Finland and I can hardly wait! Plus this year, I found some online friends who are all equally obsessed with Scandinavian traditions. I love your photo with the traditional outfit beside the Dala. Lindsborg is definitely on my list of places to visit soon! Letefisk however, is most likely not to become a personal favorite. But, Warren’s Aunt Ethel’s Fiskbolle, on Christmas Eve, were quite delicious with a crab meat cream sauce just the way Nana Marthilda made it!

  2. NancyB says:

    It is a small world. My grandparents were also from Jakobstad, Finland area and settled in the Ironwood, Michigan area when they came to the U.S. After WWII, my father went to Mullan Idaho to meet up with two of his brothers who had gone there mining. As a child, we were involved in many Scandianvian events but sadly, these became very rare as I got older.
    I have a trip to Finland on my bucket list for retirement which is very soon and look forward to it.

  3. Laurie Dimino says:

    What a wonderful journey you took us on Ace! Loved reading about your family’s heritage and traditions. Good luck with your language studies too!

  4. Deborah Granay says:

    Wow! I haven’t seen the words Uff Da! used since I lived in nothern Wisconsin in l980. I met lots of Norwegian descendents whose immigrant relatives settled there. I well remember being introduced to lutefisk and lefse. (Personally, I’ll take the fried catfish and cornbread from my Kentucky heritage!) It was a great experience living in the northern US and I enjoyed learning about the folkways of the Norwegian people. These folks had settled in a rural area and the descendents stayed on as it was now their homeland. It is great living in a location where you are welcomed to learn about another ongoing culture.

  5. Nancy Boyd says:

    Thanks so much for sharing your families rich traditions and culture with us. It is so neat to learn about other cultures and traditions.

  6. Elizabeth says:

    Lovely pictures Ace. Thank you for sharing some of your treasured memories with us (I love older pictures~the real ones you can hold in your hands are priceless). I can readily see the joy in your camp group photograph; your face is radiating appreciation & happiness at that moment in time. Looks like you embraced the experience…& it’s a bit infectious as I am going to the library today & ask for a copy of, ‘Where the Huckleberries Grow’ by Agnes Rands. If the book is shelved at any library in the state then I will soon get a chance to read it:-) Love the title!

    • Ace says:

      It’s a really good book Elizabeth! There is a sequel to it titled, “Even Seagulls Cry” you’d also enjoy. Just got back from vacation to see all your comments, it’s great to meet all of you fellow Scandinavians. That’s so exciting Winnie! Oh man, you’ll love Finland and Norway! They are some of the best places to me. 🙂

      Nancy, that’s super ironic! I wouldn’t doubt it if they passed each other in the supermarket. When my farmour and farfar met and married and introduced their families, they found out that each of their grandmothers went to elementary school together. It’s truly a small, small, world!

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Working Class Heroes

What do cow birthing, mattress recycling, maggot farming, salt mining, skull cleaning, and airport runway maintenance have in common?

One fearless man with, well, more than just a little dirt under his fingernails.

His name is Mike Rowe.


Photo by Sklmsta via Wikimedia Commons

You probably know Rowe from his television show, Dirty Jobs, in which he spent several years traveling to all 50 states, working as an apprentice on over 300 jobs that most people go out of their way to avoid.

Septic Tank Cleaner?


Shock value notwithstanding, Mike’s ultimate goal was to spotlight and celebrate hard-working Americans who make civilized life possible for the rest of us.

I love this guy.

And he just keeps getting better.

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  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Mike’s show has helped restore value to vocations that we all depend upon everyday. The high school director of career and technical programs locally likes to use this example: If you break down on the highway, do you want someone to stop who is a car mechanic or a brain surgeon? For the past few decades , we have removed these important training opportunities from our middle and high schools for all college prep classes. I don’t know about Idaho, but Home Economics was retired about 30 years ago from our schools. It is such a shame!

  2. melyssa says:

    I love Mike! He used to be an opera singer, just like the Mike I married. 🙂

  3. Julie Kram says:

    I’ve been teaching shop classes for over 15 years. I have seen Michigan de-value trades in favor of higher education. I’ve been arguing all along, and still, that if everyone is a doctor nobody will fix the car (or the plumbing, heating, roads, houses, etc). We all have skills and abilities unique to us. America in general, and Michigan in particular, should celebrate the blue-collar people who really make everything happen for everyone. Amen, Mike Rowe and Mary Jane!!!!!!!

  4. Suzanne Bergholz says:

    I had no idea that Mike Rowe was this deep, motivational man-person! I am in awe and so grateful for his perspective and his creativity. I am a graduate of a registered nurse 3 year program that incorporated college level programs with practical hands-on training. I have always encouraged trades education because our society needs skilled laborers. Yes, college education is a wonderful aspiration but, we are all different with different skill-sets. I think that I am in love with Mike Rowe…lol.

  5. Karlyne says:

    One of my pet peeves is how we under-value or don’t value at all, “menial” work! How would the CEOs and the doctors and lawyers and other such white-collar workers function without the housekeepers, nannies and gardeners working for them (at minimum wage, I might add)? At least the plumbers and electricians and road-builders are making a good wage, and are even, in this college-mad world, usually appreciated. You go, Mike Rowe! Keep spreading the word!

  6. Sue Doro says:

    Thank you so much Mary Jane for highlighting Mike Rowe’s website. He’s a hero to all of us at Pride and a Paycheck. Supporting women in the trades takes a giant step forward when TV figures feature actual women at work in blue collar trades jobs! Young people need to see it! We all do. Pride and a Paycheck welcomes free subscribers. You can print the issues off the pdf files and pass them out to even more folks. Just send us your email address and we’ll put you on our list! Thanks. Sue Doro, Editor Pride and a Paycheck.

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  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Another beauty! You have some brilliant song birds in the West!

  2. Brenda Gill says:

    This reminds me of God and how he shows us the beauty of living every day.

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  1. Elizabeth says:

    How cute! I’ve never seen a Warbler or Meadowlark in real time. Someday soon, I would love to hear/see both birds. Our Black-capped Chickadees just fledged a couple days ago & now I literally have empty nest syndrome;-)

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Perennial Plate

Have you had a chance to catch The Perennial Plate?

The Perennial Plate is an online weekly documentary series dedicated to socially responsible and adventurous eating.

Who doesn’t love THAT idea?

Creator Daniel Klein and co-producer/cameragirl Mirra Fine are traveling the world exploring the wonders, complexities, and stories behind the ever-more-connected global food system.

“Klein, who has cooked at the restaurants of Thomas Keller, Heston Blumenthal, and Tom Colicchio … offers a closer look at where our food can actually come from (but often doesn’t) than anything you’re likely to see on the Food Network,” says the Huffington Post.

The episodes follow the culinary, agricultural, and hunting explorations of this intrepid chef.

“Season One took place over a calendar year in Minnesota where, every Monday for 52 weeks, the duo released short films about good food,” reports the Plate’s website. “In Season Two, Klein and Fine traveled across America, taking the viewer on a journey to appreciate and understand where good food comes from and how to enjoy it.”

This season, Klein and Fine are blazing a trail around the world—to China, Japan, India, Spain, Morocco, Italy, Turkey, Argentina, Mexico, South Africa, and Ethiopia. Along the way, they’re telling the stories of real food and the people who make it.

In a recent episode called “Do Not Blame the Sea,” the destination was Sri Lanka, where a small fishing family was nearly decimated by the 2004 tsunami. “And yet today, they still fish (either on stilts or in a boat) because they have to do it to survive,” explains Klein.

Even though I’ll never be able to catch up on the site’s bounty of past episodes, I can’t wait to see where they’ll go next.

Who knew I could be an armchair traveler and a footrest foodie at the same time?

If you’re already a fan, share your favorite episode.

Photo by Lars Swanson

Photo by Lars Swanson

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  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    This series is new to me but I absolutely love how inspired younger chefs are bringing back the art and quality of cooking to everyone! It is almost a scientific passion. Real agriculture bringing basic ingredients together in delicious ways. To me, it is the hope to move our nation beyond overly processed food. They have a lot of work ahead of them but they are truly exciting to learn about and follow. We will all be the healthier for their work and sharing of a true food revolution!

  2. Pingback: Corn Guru | Raising Jane Journal

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Good morning!

This is the pathway that greets our crew every morning, winter, rain, or shine. Yesterday, we were all back to work but the sunshine and warmth from the weekend turned to rain. I spent most of last weekend in the garden planting 50 new perennials in one of our main flower beds (day lily, poppy, columbine, and lupine). How about you? Have you been in your garden yet? What did you do on Mother’s Day weekend? I also took a long Sunday nap. On Saturday I scrubbed the walls and floor of our dairy, cleaned out the cow’s water tank, took photos around the farm, and helped hubby with an excavation project. (More on that later.)


  1. Terry Steinmetz says:

    Yes, I have been in my garden with hubby. We are cleaning, adding compost and even doing a little planting. We’ve already re-done a flowerbed of perennials & it looks great! For Mother’s Day, I led our music part of worship at church, went to visit a friend in the nursing home, relaxed with a book, worked on my Sisterhood merit badge reports, took nap, answered the phone calls of my four children calling me, and took a nice walk. Ahh, what a nice day!

  2. Winnie Nielsen says:

    I love the rural farm feel of that pathway. Of course, any pathway with daffodils is magic! My tiny vegetable garden started growing “on steroids ” after a huge rain two weekends ago. The plants jumped up and now the tomatoes are making fruit and the green beans are full of pretty purple flowers!It is interesting that you can water a garden faithfully, but give it some good soaking rains and it becomes so very happy!

  3. Deborah Granay says:

    When I look at your photos it reminds me of how grateful I am to live in rural America. I have so many wonderful tasks and blessings on my 15 acres. Many of my friends, acquaintances and relatives look at my vocation as rural property owner as unnecessary toil. I look at it as fabulous never ending wonder at it’s bounty. I’m never bored and I’m never poor. To paraphrase the late Harlan Hubbard,artist, writer and living off of the land expert, those that spend little always have plenty. After I read his book, Payne Hollow, Life on the Fringe, I realized how “rich” I am with wonder!

  4. drMolly says:

    Yes, I’ve been in my garden – around here one must “make hay while the sun shines” as it were. I’ve been turning my compost piles, making & planting potato boxes and built a nice new box for my rhubarb – having found out recently that rhubarb loves well-drained soil (now how could I have not known that after gardening for over 50 years!, but one always learns something). Since I recently got a new rhubarb variety I figured I’d give it a happy home.
    I live in a little town on the Palouse Prairie and have what one could call a tiny “farmette”, I guess: 5 raised beds, 6 dwarf or semi-dwarf fruit trees, some strawberries, raspberries, & blueberries, plus some flowers & shrubs. Then there are my 5 chicke-doodles, too, to represent the livestock part of a farm – but, hey! the fresh eggs are grand!
    That is a lovely view and I do envy all of you who have a “real farm”, but one must always count one’s blessings, right?

  5. Karlyne says:

    We spent the weekend at a mountain cabin (mini-vacation from our flat-land!). It was hard to come back and leave all of the wildflowers and blue skies up there! And hard to keep the grandkids from bringing it all, frogs and flowers and rocks and pine trees, home with us!

  6. Stephanie Montoya says:

    Love everything about your site. Found you from a friends link in facebook. I would bevso blessed to receive a magazine. I have never found one here in Yuma, AZ. Im a lil Farm girl deep in my soul! Thank you, Stephanie

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  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Simple and beautiful!

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Mother’s Gift Posthumous

Enchanting …

How else would I describe Wonderland?

(I’m not talking about Alice’s old stomping grounds.)

This flight of fancy is all grown up and pours smooth as “dream” from the eyes of That’s the best

Kirsty Mitchell, an English photographer who beckons us into a whole new world of wonder.

When Kirsty’s mom died in 2008, she was devastated. Her mother, an English teacher and brilliant storyteller, had been her lifelong inspiration, weaving stories into the fabric of Kirsty’s soul.

Struggling to find an outlet for her grief, Kirsty began submerging herself in artistic expression.

“Real life became a difficult place to deal with, and I found myself retreating further into an alternative existence through the portal of my camera,” she explains. “This escapism grew into the concept of creating an unexplained storybook without words, dedicated to her [my mother], that would echo the fragments of the fairytales she read to me constantly as a child.”

And Wonderland, a stunning series of photographs like you’ve never seen before, was born.

“All the characters came to me in my dreams,” she says, and it has been thrilling to bring them into reality. “After all, it’s not often you get to stand beside an 8-foot princess in the rain, or witness the dawn with a dancing circus girl on stilts!”

Her magical images are not created in Photoshop, nor are they staged in exotic locations around the globe. They have been captured with her camera in special spots within a short drive of her home in Surrey, England.

After three years, the Wonderland series is nearly complete, and I’m excited to hear there’s a book in the works that will accompany Kirsty’s exhibition.

“I just know that the day I see my mother’s name printed on the inside cover of the Wonderland book, it will feel like I have finally fulfilled my promise to myself and her precious memory,” says Kirsty.

Delve into Kirsty’s online diary to savor behind-the-scenes shots and learn the secrets behind creating each photograph.

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  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    What an amazing tribute! Haunting, whimsical, and beautiful wrapped up in one loving story! Thanks for sharing and Happy Mother’s Day Mary Jane!!

  2. Eileen Stone says:

    Thanks for sharing this Mary Jane! This is fantastic & magical!

  3. Karlyne says:


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happy HAPPY birthday to MaryJane and Carol!


Carol and MaryJane share the same birthday—probably the reason why they’ve worked so well together for so many years—they’re really two peas in a pod. So today we’re celebrating their birthday farmgirl-style with a triple chocolate cake (Saralou’s surprise), gluten-free brownies (Karina’s surprise), huckleberry cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and lemon cupcakes with huckleberry frosting (my surprise made by my friend Traci).

Yup, no pictures of us today cause we’re reserving the day for sweat pants and celebrating (eating). I’m thinking we’ll make popcorn for lunch.

  1. CJ Armstrong says:

    Happy Birthday to you! Cha, cha, cha!
    Happy Birthday to you!! Cha, cha, cha!!
    HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU-U-U-U-U-U !!! Cha, cha, cha, cha, cha!!!
    Enjoy your celebration!

  2. Debbie Fischer says:

    Happy Birthday Mary Jane and Carol, have a beautiful, fun day. I wish you many more birthdays full of hope, dreams and wishes.

  3. Christine says:

    Happy Birthday MaryJane and Carol.
    Love from another Taurus gal:)

  4. Laurie Scott says:

    Happy birthday to the both of you. Mary Jane and Carol. Hope that the both of you have a wonderful day. It is such a great pleasure to be a farm girl sister. With lots of friendly farm girls. Hugs to both of you gals.

  5. Nicole Christensen says:

    Happy Birthday to you both! Hope you both have an amazing day!! Farmgirl hugs, Nicole

  6. Beth says:

    Happy Birthday to you both…hope you have a wonderful day celebrating!!!

    Beth (Karina’s mom)

  7. Paula Spencer Scott says:

    Oh man what a fabulous birthday treat selection!! Huckleberry and chocolate, two of the best — for a deserving birthday duo!

  8. Jeannie Pierce says:

    Happiest of Birthdays to you both, you lovely ladies. May you have many more and many more great memories to go with them.

  9. Wishing you both the BEST birthday every!

  10. Judith Lickteig says:

    Happy Birthday, MaryJane and Carol! You ladies have a wonderful celebration! You have certainly given me a lot of good days.

  11. Sarah says:

    Happy birthday to you both! I hope you have a great day!

  12. Charlene Petersen says:

    Celebrate all week long! Happy Birthday to you.

  13. A very farmgirly Happy Birthday to the both of you!!!!!!!!!!

  14. HAY HAY HURRAY HURRAY for you Happy of all Days and therefor all days to COME! Happy Birthday!

  15. Eileen V Widman says:

    Happiest of birthday wishes to both of you wonderful women!

  16. Winnie Nielsen says:

    What a wonderful Duo celebration! Happy Birthday to the best ever Farmgirls!!

  17. Debbie says:

    Oh, my goodness gracious! Here I am bringing up the rear in wishing you both a very happy birthday…how exciting to learn that you both share the same birthday! I love that… 🙂 No doubt you each had a wonderful time celebrating!
    hugs and much love,
    Deb ( your beach farmgirl )

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raspberries all “rowed up”

My raspberries are what farmers around here refer to as “all rowed up.” Sho ‘nuf.


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  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Raspberries. Ahhhh!! One of Summer’s finest gifts.

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