Friday, February 29, 2008

favorite shop friday: oh my cavalier!

One of the first things I ever bought on was this strange and pretty print called "Tangle Hair" from a strange and pretty shop called Oh My Cavalier!...I love this shop!

Julianna fills her shop with an array of prints and cards and framed artwork that Julianna says is "inspired by fairy tales, animals with sharp claws...

...Victorian hair weaving, antique ephemera and postcards...

...bird song, nursery rhymes, lace...

...cabinets of curiosities, anthropomorphism of all kinds, and many more things!"

I think Julianna achieves just the right balance of elegance and charm with the bizarre and the curious!

Step into Julianna's world at You can also visit her website at or her journal at

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Don't forget to check out this post for a special shop announcement and a discount for all my blog readers! Today is the last day for this special offer!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

the oscars are still the oscars without pizza rolls

I watched the Oscars today. Yes, I know, I'm a little late. That's one of those not so nice things about living in Germany.

My family hates watching award ceremonies. But the big notable exception is the Oscars. We are movie people. When I was about 10 years old we could all recite line-for-line the first 20 minutes of the movie Blues Brothers. Nearly every Sunday for about 5 years we watched the original Hailey Mills and Hayley Mills Parent Trap. We loved watching Marx Brothers films as much as the latest Disney animation film. My siblings and I grew up communicating through movie lines. As adults, we discuss movies we've seen in every phone conversation. Christmas and birthday gifts to each other are usually DVDs. And every year we watch the Academy Awards.

As kids, we often didn't know anything about the movies nominated--they were often too grown up for kids--but my sister and I love to see the dresses and we loved seeing the movie stars making their acceptance speeches. And my parents would buy us Oscar night treats like popcorn and pizza rolls. As we got older, we would get more invested into seeing the movies we loved win. My sister, the actress, would give her frustrations about Hollywood politics, and my brother, who is truly All-Knowing when it comes to all forms of entertainment, would fill us in on all the films we may not have seen. And I would give my critiques on what made some movies great and why others just sucked no matter what awards you threw at it. And we would still eat pizza rolls.

(1940s MGM Movie Studio Glamour Photo, Movie Star Norma Shearer from Full Circle Studios)

And...although we live far from each other...we still watch them every year. When I lived in Michigan I loved to call my sister during the award ceremony to ask her what she thought of so-and-so winning and if that movie even warranted a nomination. But now that I'm in's just not nearly as much fun.

First of all, I have to watch it after everyone else. My husband downloaded it for me yesterday so today is the first chance I've had to watch it. And that means I've already heard who got the big awards from the news and the internet.

And I can't call my brother and sister during the ceremony, 'cause while they're watching it, I'm fast asleep, and by the time I'm watching, they're fast asleep or at work or doing something else and the Oscars are already old news.

And they don't sell pizza rolls in Germany.

(Planet of the Apes-linocut from Artic Cobalt)

And I have to watch the Oscars all by myself. My husband would usually watch them with me, but, although he's just as much of a movie person as I am, he's just not into the whole giving out of awards part of it. Plus, he gets so upset every time a Pixar animation movie doesn't win, he threatens to boycott the Academy Awards the next year. So, here in Germany, he downloads the ceremony for me and I watch it while he's at work...then I replay a few highlights for him when he gets home.

But even though I had to eat ice cream instead of pizza rolls, I still enjoyed watching the Oscars this year! I loved that the song from Once won. We're big Coen brothers fans so we're glad they did well. And I'm glad Pixar won so Karl will hopefully be watching with me next year!

(Friendo T-Shirt from 24/7 Magnum)

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Don't forget to check out last Monday's post for a special shop announcement and a discount for all my blog readers! Only a few days left for this special offer!

Friday, February 22, 2008

favorite shop friday: go buggy

Machiko makes food. Healthy food. Beautiful food. Felt food.

I love the food Machiko makes for her shop, Go Buggy. They could be play food for children but they could also be play food for adults, too.

Wouldn't this farmers market basket look great as a table centerpiece?

Or wouldn't you love to carry this bucket of river fish to your kid's next playdate?

Machiko says that she is inspired by the food she grew up with. And I like that. Because there is something about her soft felt foods that that have just enough reality but just enough stylized simplicity so that they look like they were modeled after memories.

I love the grill marks on her grilled eggplant and grilled tofu:

And I love that her dumplings come with a bamboo steamer:

And I love that the aesthetics of food is so important to Machiko. I think it's her attention to the food's natural beauty that makes her food look good enough to eat...despite being made out of felt and polyfil.

Take for example the slightly different shades of pink used for this carton of eggs... (Ok, so I don't know when I've ever eaten pink eggs before either, but have you ever really looked at an egg? They really are different shades of color!)

And have you ever seen such a pretty ginger root?

Food is such an everyday thing I think we forget sometimes how beautiful and good it can be. I'm glad Machiko helps us remember. You'll find all of these wonderful foods and much more at

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Don't forget to check out last Monday's post for a special shop announcement and a discount for all my blog readers! Only a week left of for this special offer!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

this photo is for everyone i know in the states who are buried under all the snow i keep seeing on the news...

We're having an early spring in Germany. Sorry.

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Don't forget to check out last Monday's post for a special shop announcement and a special discount for all my blog readers!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

land of our fathers

This past weekend my husband's very first movie made its world premiere to rave reviews!

No, it wasn't a Scorsese production nor will it be viewed at any film festivals or nominated at any awards, but it is a very special film, nonetheless!

Karl's grandfather on his mother's side was born in Germany. Although he immigrated to America as a young child with his parents, the rest of his relatives remained here. And the family has made a little bit of contact with some long lost German cousins.

Back in November, while I was enjoying my Thanksgiving in the States with family, Karl took a little trip to the birthplace of his grandfather, Gotha in central Germany, to meet these distant cousins. He brought a video camera with him and made a little film about his visit including interviews with relatives and visiting the birthplace of his grandfather and great-grandmother.

Karl with Wolfgang, whose grandfather was the first cousin of Karl's great-grandfather:

Wolfgang and his son are master carpenters...this is their shop and their home:

The finished film got send off to the family and was shown Saturday evening at the annual family reunion. Every February Karl's relatives get together for the annual "German Dinner" where they catch up on the past year, eat good food (that is sometimes inspired by Germany and sometimes not so much), and where there is usually some kind of program celebrating the family's German heritage. And Karl's wonderful film was this year's highlight!

Sadly, we couldn't be there for the big premiere. (Sometimes we hate that Germany is so very far away.) But Monday night Karl's parents called to let us know that everyone loved the film!

Would you like to see my husband's masterwork? It's been posted on YouTube in three different parts that you can see here (part 1) and here (part 2) and here (part 3).

But Karl's not the only one to return to the native birthplace of his fathers. When I learned we were going to be moving here I decided to help my dad out with some of his genealogy research. He had traced his family back to their immigration from Germany but couldn't find any information on the Germans before they immigrated. After a lot of research I found the location my forefathers left when they immigrated (family legend says that my great-great-great-grandfather was involved in a plot to assassinate the Kaiser and left Germany when the plot was discovered!).

My sister and her husband came to visit us in October and together my sister and I were able to visit the town of Gau-Odernheim where our ancestors were born! It was really neat to see the place where we would have grown up if our families had made a different decision so many years before!

Me (on the left) and my sister in front of the church (where our ancestors were probably baptized and married) in Gau-Odernheim:

Some old buildings in the small town that were standing when our family once lived there:

If you're interested in visiting your own roots, here are some good sites to get you started:

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Don't forget to check out my last post for a special shop announcement and a special discount for all my blog readers!

Monday, February 18, 2008

shop announcement: now is the time to buy!'s tax time. And this past week I updated all of my shop records. And, unfortunately, I found that my dear little shop isn't quite making the profit I hoped it would. I'll be doing some price adjustments to most of my items. And, unfortunately, that means prices are going to go up a bit.

But...I won't be changing anything until Saturday, March 1st. That means that now is the best time to buy!

And...between today and the end of February, to further encourage you to buy, I'm offering a special discount to everyone who reads my blog! Get 10% off my current prices through Friday, February 29th! Simply enter in the code blog10 in the "note to seller" section during checkout and then wait for me to send you a revised invoice before paying.

But...guess what? I've got a lot of new items ready to go up in the shop! But they won't be listed until March 1st!

So, go shop now! And come back on March 1st for some new, great items!!

Friday, February 15, 2008

favorite shop friday: maizie jane

Juliette Ober has an adorable daughter with an adorable name, Maizie Jane, after whom she named her wonderful shop!

Juliette creates what she called Buttermint Tiles...original oil paintings on tiles inspired by her childhood memories...and I love them!

There are a few reasons why I love them. I love the images themselves. They have a retro style and I like the kind of images she chooses. The kind of details you remember from your childhood--the appliances on the kitchen counter, mom's bottle of cold cream--as well as the things we miss like cooking with mom and spending your day at games.

I also love the colors of the tiles: soft pastels with yummy names like "teaberry" and "mint", "butter", "frost" and snowflake".

I also like that they are ceramic tiles. They may be cold and hard but there is still something so home-y about tiles. They line the rooms in our homes we use daily like our bathrooms and especially our kitchens from which good things come every day.

But Juliette has more than tiles in her shop...she shows off her amazing talent with some wonderful original paintings with similar themes.

You can find more wonderful Maizie Jane art at or keep up with Juliette's studio at

Thursday, February 14, 2008

signs 2

This is such a lovely Valentine's Day because guess what I'm doing?!

Posting on my blog on my very own computer in my very own home with my very own internet connection!! Yes, Karl and I have stepped out of the Stone Age and can now take part in the cyber world with everyone else in the 21st century!! We finally have a phone again and our internet is up and running!

To celebrate, I'm going to share another European sign with you!

This one we saw in the parking garage we parked at in Basel, Switzerland Monday morning. It's a no-smoking sign...but I liked how they got all their bases covered:

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


Yesterday, my husband and I participated in my very favorite Fasnacht parade. Every year, on the Monday after Ash Wedsnestdy, the city of Basel, Switzerland (just an hour and a half away from us) opens their 3-day Fasnacht celebration with a very unique parade: the Morgestraich.

This parade begins Monday morning at 4:00 AM. Yes, you read that right: four o'clock in the AM! And the darkness of the early morning is very important for this parade becaue it's a parade of lanterns! There are many local societies called cliques who each create a large lantern for this parade. These large lanterns were hand painted with different satirical messages, mostly based on different local or world political, contraversial and other events of the past year. They are amazing! Following the large lanterns are costumed people along with a group of costumed piccolo players (a small, high-pitched flute) and they are followed by a group of costumed drum players. They are all wearing small lanterns on the tops of their heads. And some are even carrying lanterns on the ends of tall sticks. And that's it. No bands, no candy, no confetti, no waving or any kind of interaction with the crowd. Just pipes, drums and lanterns and all in the dark.

As I mentioned, darkness is very important for this parade. As the large crowd gathers throughout the streets of Basel's old city center in the middle of the night, we are all waiting for one thing: for the old city hall's clock to strike four...and at the fourth ring, the lights go out! And then the music starts...drums and piccolos playing the same, strange tunes over and over marching through the streets with their lanterns. Not only are all the street lights out, but all the homes and business in the area are asked to turn out their lights, too, so that the only light is coming from the colorful lanterns. So as these cliques slowly march past, you can just see their strange masks coming out of the darkness and all you can hear is the pipe and drum music which sounds almost creepy in the darkness.

After about 30 or 45 starts to get really fun! The different cliques start to break off the parade route turning up and down different streets. Suddenly there is no parade route! The crowds start to break apart, too, as people start to follow behind the cliques that are turning down bare alleyways or down crowded streets, or else people will stand along the streets watching the lanterns and costumed musicians go by. Once in a while a clique will pull over to the side of a street to take a break. Then you can get a closer look at the amazing lanterns and read the commentary written on it in the local Basel dialect.

Karl and I wandered through some incredibly crowded streets getting up to close to the lanterns for a while, then will found the fairly empty church square where we decided to follow a clique made up of costumed school children for a few blocks. It was so amazing! You've never seen anything like it!

It was, however, very cold! So after wandering with the crowds and the cliques through the streets of Basel for a couple of hours, we decided to head back to the car before everything started to break apart at sunrise.

I find it amazing how this society had created a way that, for hundreds of years, they had been able to harmlessly shrug off the burden of rules and criticize what they felt was wrong in their society without repercussions, before going back to daily life, feeling better after having a little fun and getting some things off their collective chest.

Waiting for 4 am in front of the city hall:

The parade begins!

A look at some of the costumes:

Just a few of the amazing lanterns:

Friday, February 8, 2008

favorite shop friday: just mad books

It's so nice to be able to feature a favorite shop again. I know I only skipped last week, due to German phone company incompetence, but my internet-ing has been so irregular that it feels nice to be able to do something regular!

And this weeks favorite has been a favorite of mine for a long time! Allow me to introduce to you the brillance that is Just Mad Books, the brain-child of Justin Madson!

Justin is a cartoonist and illustrator who creates, what he calls, "beautifully rendered tales of detachment, wonder and hope" and what I would also call beautiful, ethereal and comfortably and intrigingly strange.

This is a page from one of his comic books, Happy Town Book 2:

And another from the beautifully render tale, Laundry Day:

I love his images of detached figures...they tend to seem a searching for somthing in a strange, yet eerily familiar world -- almost like a parallel universe or an alternate reality, a bizzaro world, or a not-too-distant future.

Little Hood

Step into Justin's world at or I think you'll like it there. I do.

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