Wednesday, December 10, 2008

doors and windows 7

Steinbach, Germany

Steinbach, Germany

Steinbach, Germany

Steinbach, Germany

Steinbach, Germany

Friday, December 5, 2008

favorite shop friday: mister rob

Today I bring you the delightfully wonderful work of Mister Rob!

Mr. Rob Ryan has a wonderful little shop filled with the most wonderful tiles, screenprints and lasercuts from his UK studio.

The skill involved in his work is impressive enough, but it's the simple imagination that goes into his designs that make him unique...

These are words and images I would like to invite into my world! Invite them into yours at

Thursday, December 4, 2008


On one of our days in Minnesota we took a trip to one of the funnest places I've ever been...the Spam Museum. Yes, that's right...Spam!

In the little community of Austin, Minnesota, the Hormel plant is in full swing making so many food products Americans love and one that if you don't love it, you have to have a least have a sense of humour about it (because Hormel certainly does!).

So, yeah, Hormel built this whole museum dedicated to Spam. The museum is, of course, very educational: you learn about the history of Spam, the role Spam played during World War II, and how Spam is made and canned. And it's all a ton of fun: race each other in canning Spam, play a game show testing your Spam knowledge, and, of course, watch the entire Monty Python Spam skit. And then there's the gift shop with not just every variety of Spam you didn't know existed but over 300 objects with the word Spam on it.

And if you didn't like Spam already going into the museum...well, you're still not going to like Spam coming out. But you'll be able to give Spam some credit for providing a really fun afternoon !

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

old-fashion american road trip

What is it about a change of location that totally messes up your routines? My day-to-day really hasn't changed much since moving to Texas but I just can't seem to get my blogging in anymore!

I suppose I am having new distractions. My husband just found a new job in a little town just west of Houston so now we're hunting for a new car and a new home and I'm still job hunting myself. But we took a break from all of this hunting for Thanksgiving last week and drove up to Minnesota with my parents to spend the holiday with my mother's sisters and their families.

Rochester Minnesota is about an 18-hour drive (20 hours with rest stops, gas stops, and food stops) from Houston and we drove it all straight through. It was actually not a bad drive at all. And I have actually been craving a good road trip for a while.

I realized while I was living in Germany that road trips are truly an American thing. No one loves their cars so much, has such a lack of a train system, and has created an entire highway/interstate culture like Americans.

I noticed driving long-distance in Germany that you just don't get those long stretches of roads with nothing. There is always something. European towns are so compact with relatively little distance between that you're always within sight of at least a village and the major cities are never more than an hour or so away from each other. You never get "away" from anything.

As you drive cross-country in America, as many of you know, most of your trip is going to be empty fields of grain or cattle with the occasional farm house and truck stop and last-stop-shopping for American Indian artifacts and hand-painted billboards advertising the state's best BBQ. I missed those long stretches of flat plains and the endless winding through mountains without seeing a bit of civilization.

So this road trip to Minnesota really made feel that I arrived home.

And our Thanksgiving was really good, too!

Friday, November 21, 2008

favorite shop friday: la belle fairy

I've just finished reading some books written in a Victorian fashion with much talk of cravats and petticoats and waistcoats and corsets and so I've been in a lady-like Victorian kind of mood and began eyeing what corsets could be found on Etsy. I've found the funnest shop filled with pretty corsets prefect for when I'm in these period piece kind of moods!

La Belle Fairy is your one-stop shopping for all your cinching, boning, lacing, flattering figure needs!

Such pretty shapes...

Such soft satins...

Such romance and femininity...

So much fun!

And don't worry about fit...these corsets are custom made in Canada to fit your figure!
Of course you need a corset! Find your perfect figure at!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

my sister, the cupcake baker

Man, have I ever been neglectful!

Sorry for the lack of posts the past couple of weeks...I've been getting settled here: getting over jet-lag, sprucing up my resume for job-hunting, hanging out with family and trying to get used to being in America again. I'm missing Germany something awful but I'm seeing a lot of perks to being back in the yummy Texas food and spending more time with my family than I've had for the past two years (or more!).

One thing I've been especially enjoying that combines food I can't get in Germany and my family is my sister's new cupcake business! She started up a cupcake baking business, Seriously Cupcakes, this past year and I've been dying to taste her work for months, espeically since Germans don't make cupcakes...but now I'm cursing her evilness because I'm surrounded with cupcakes I can't stop eating!

Susan seriously makes a good cupcake! I'm deeply impressed at how good she can make a simple vanilla cupcake with vanilla frosting (but it's probably the vanilla sugar, vanilla bean and Madegascar vanilla extract she uses in both the cake and cream cheese frosting...not to mention the obscene amount of butter). Just when I thought I was starting to get tired of eating such rich little cakes, she brings over some coconut cupcakes with coconut cream cheese frosting (a total of 6 sticks of butter went into these little bits of heaven) and I'm hooked again.

If you're in the Houston area and are interested in getting addicted to some amazingly good cupcakes, you can contact my sister, Susan, through her cupcake-y blog, No Seriously, No...Seriously.

Saturday, November 1, 2008


And so...we are back in America.

Our long traveling went smoothly. But we're feeling a little more European than American right now with all the streets feeling too wide, the cars too big, the city too sprawling, and the east Texas air too humid. We're going to have to do some adjusting! So let's make this an All-American post today! And what's more American than Chuck Norris!?

Are you familiar with Chuck Norris' 1986 cartoon, Chuck Norris Karate Kommando? It is horribly made, kind of strange, and hilarious.

This is one of my favorite clips from the few episodes that got made. I find it strangely poignant.

Is Chuck trying to tell us something about American culture? Discuss.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

favorite shop friday: loyalty and blood

Today is Halloween (and I wish you all a fun and happy one!) but I'm spending my holiday traveling from one continent to another! I'm flying over the Atlantic today making that same great journey my ancestors made 150 years ago when they decided to immigrate from Germany to the United States. Except my journey will be made in a crowded airplane instead of a crowded boat and I'll arrive the same day I leave instead of weeks later and I'll be comfortably dressed in a T-shirt instead of a corset with my airplane snacks and books in a tote bag. So in honor of my long flight abroad today, let's take a look at look at some great tote bags and comfy T-shirts with images of ships and flight and family monograms and a new home, shall we?

Allow me to introduce Loyalty and Blood! This is a very cool shop of T-shirts, totes and jewelry.

The T-shirts are beautifully done with strong simple graphics...

The totes (my personal favorite) are screen printed with gorgeous alphabets...

And the jewelry is unique and carries on the vintage feel of many of Loyalty and Blood's other designs...

I love this shop. I love the vintage yet modern designs and I can wait to add one of those letter tote bags to my new American shopping trips. And, of course, this necklace is just the thing I need for my new home!

Find more of Maggie and David's brilliance at!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

quilting politics

Flag, 1915, made by Belle Engley of Kingston, Michigan. cottons, pieced, 78.5 x 67.5 inches. Collection of Marcia and Ron Spark.

The US Presidential election is only a week away. Karl and I will be making it back to the States in time to vote on the 4th, but we decided to go ahead and send in our absentee ballots last week, so our choice has been made and our duty as US citizens is already taken care of. But I know many of you US Americans are still making choices and looking forward to voting next week and I got to thinking, being the quilter and history buff that I am, about the roll quilts have playing in United Sates politics.

Did you know that quilts have played an important role in American politics?

It's only since 1919 that women in the US had the right to vote but American women have been playing an active role in politics since long before that and largely through their quilting.

The 19th century brought a growing population through immigration and and growing populations mean growing social problems. Women created organizations to improve education, prisons, temperance in drinking, abolition of war and slavery, and women's rights. The money to run these causes were raised at fairs, festivals and bazaars where they sold their baked goods, needlework and, yes, quilts.

The Civil War brought more cause for fundraising and more quilts being made to finance the buying of gun boats and hospital supplies and still more quilts were made to send out to the soldiers themselves. Quilts were used by Abolitionists to express their antislavery viewpoints and the names of traditional quilting patterns were changed to reflect their views: for example Job's Tears became Slave Chain and Jacob's Ladder became Underground Railway.

In the 20th century women continued to express their political and patriotic points of view through quilting. Magazines and newspapers called for quilts to send to "Our Boys Over There" and to sell to raise money for the war cause.

But I'm happy to see that with the right to vote, women have not entirely given up the public voice quilting gave us. One of my favorite modern quilters, Denyse Schmidt, has made this beautiful quilt to help raise funds for the Barack Obama campaign. You can find her fundraising page by clicking here.

No matter what your political sway, quilts like this help us to remember, at least help me to remember, that voting is an earned right for all of us. I'm glad my voice in politics today is counted in the private ballot box but I'm also glad that there were many women before me that took advantage of a public voice through fabric and needlework. Although a quilt didn't "count" in elections, they certainly made a difference in our history.

Stars and Stripes, c. 1876, cottons, pieced, 12.5 x 15.5 inches. Thelma Moore-Morris Doll Quilt Collection.

Facts and photos from The American Quilt: A History of Cloth and Comfort 1750-1950 by Roderick Kiracofe

Friday, October 24, 2008

favorite shop friday: made with love by hannah

I've been a big fan of today's shop for a long time. Mostly because of this...the Schwarzwalder Skirt!

And since I'm saying goodbye to my Schwarzwald this week, it seemed the perfect time to feature Made With Love By Hannah!

Her prints and skirts perfectly capture the kitsch that Germany is so good at (which is why, I guess, they invented the word for it). It's a cozy kitsch that I see so much of around my home from the knick knacks cluttering the local Biergarten to the gnomes and sheep and cherubs covering the lawns in our neighborhood. So Hannah's shop makes me feel right at home!

Visit Hannah's haven for all things knick knack-y and ric rac-y (or if you're just feeling homesick for Germany like I will be!) at and check out her blog at for sneak peek at what she's been creating!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

mein schwarzwald

After two years and one month in Germany, Karl and I are moving back the the US at the end of them moth.

We had hoped to make our home here, which started out as a temporary 6 month assignment for his job, into a permanent home, but things haven't worked out as we hoped. And now we're returning.

The decision has made us sad because this is so much our Home. This place has affected us in many ways for the better. There is so much we are going to miss about living in Germany. One of which is the view out my window of the Black Forest. Every day we've lived here I've been amazed that I'm so lucky. Often those thoughts come when I look out our bedroom window at the beautiful green forested mountains with its castle ruins.

I've been trying to soak in that view as much as possible this past week since we've learned we're going to be returning to the States at the end of the month. Unfortunately, it's been a rainy and foggy week and there hasn't been much to see out my window...

But I've taken many shots of our view over the past two years, I love it so much. So, in farewell to my beautiful view, here's my little bit of the Black Forest for you to enjoy, too...

...*sigh*....I'm sure going to miss this place.

Friday, October 17, 2008

favorite shop friday: plum creek mercantile

This week's shop is as simple and brilliant as it's products...reusable food bags!

Say goodbye to going through boxes of throw-away plastic baggies and say hello to Plum Creek Mercantile.

Candyce provides you with fabric food baggies, the perfect size for your sandwich and snacks, and quart-size and gallon-size bulk food bags.

They are pretty, washable, reusable, made with natural cotton and close securely. They are perfect for packed lunches, your toddler's finger foods, travel snacks and whether you want to save some cash on repeatly buying plastic throw-away baggies or have the environment's health in mind.

Find your food's next best friend at

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