I'm doing a puzzle today: Paolo Veronese's The Marriage in Cana (which, incidentally, is hanging directly across from the Mona Lisa in the Louvre these days).
Last day of the macro photo challenge! Yes, I missed a few days, but I had a fun time with it and I got to know some new great blogs in the process...thanks, Orange Flower!
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
I'm doing a puzzle today: Paolo Veronese's The Marriage in Cana (which, incidentally, is hanging directly across from the Mona Lisa in the Louvre these days).
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Monday, April 28, 2008
On the road up to Baden-Baden is this sign. It's a caution signing warning of pedestrians, and I always like the frumpy man on this version of the sign...but it's the addition below the triangular caution sign that has always caught my eye: the family of frogs.
I'm baffled by these frogs. I don't know what they're trying to tell me.
Is this a frog crossing? Should I beware not only of human pedestrians but also of frog families crossing the road as I'm speeding by at 70 km/hour?
Or are the frogs a general symbol for a nearby nature preserve and I should beware of creeping creatures of all types?
Or is this area a frog habitat for specialized frog enthusiasts?
Or does it mean something else all together and I'm unawares of breaking some law against frog families every time I go speeding by because of my ignorance?
Can anyone out there enlighten me? Or at least give me your best guess?
Saturday, April 26, 2008
Friday, April 25, 2008
To conclude my little Earth Day Week I've found a wonderful shop with wonderful bags made from men's suits. Yes, men's suits.
Verne is up-cycling old suits and giving them a completely new use as bags helping to show us that just because something is old and worn doesn't mean it can't be reborn into something new and stylish! I had never heard of the term up-cycling before I stumbled upon Etsy.com last year, but since then I'm suddenly quite aware when I spot something that has been brilliantly up-cycled and Verne is doing it brilliantly!
I love the practical and stylish design of the bags. The messenger bags are plenty big for what I tend to carry around including original outside suit pockets...
And the little purses are adorable with their decorative buttons...
I love the idea of carrying around my things in comfy wool fabrics (even if the bags are dry-clean only!) and Verne tries to keep the original suit label attached making these ever so much cooler...
I also love that I can buy a matching set (at a cheaper price I might add!) with a messenger bag for day and a little purse for night (that just might match my husband's suit!)...
You can get your own bags from Verne at http://verne.etsy.com.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Spazieren is a German word that means "to take a walk". And not like you're walking across the hall or walking to the neighbor's or even a walk around the block...but to go for a walk, to get outside and take a stroll. But it also means more then even that...it means that you're going to get outside and enjoy your surroundings, enjoy being out in nature.
Often you'll hear Germans talk about how they went spazieren over the weekend or are making plans with friends to go spazieren. It's not just a spontaneous thing on a nice day. More than once I've been invited out with some German friends just to go spazieren: we'd get together just to take a walk through some woods or nearby fields for an hour or so in all seasons.
To me, the German culture's love and respect for nature is wonderfully expressed in that word: spazieren. Because while many Germans love to go camping (which isn't so rough as many Americans prefer it to be), to grill in nice weather (and only nice weather and only your basic wursts or steak, nothing fancy), and to exercise outside, they all love to go spazieren, to be in nature and enjoy nature.
And I think that's really what Earth Day is meant to be: not to make us feel guilty about what we're not doing to save the earth but to help you remember that the Earth is our home and it's our only home and it's a beautiful home. And when we get outside and enjoy it, even to simply take a stroll once in a while, we'll naturally want to show it more respect and care.
(Some friends with my husband strolling through the forest back in December.)
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Bicycles are a common sight in Germany. And the culture here makes them practical, safe, and enjoyable for several reasons.
Gasoline is very expensive here so it makes financial sense to go by bike instead. The old towns are very compact so you really don't have to pedal very far to get to stores and banks and such. And stores will commonly have lots of bikes racks for locking up your bike.
And since bikes are so common, the roads are designed with them in mind: you'll find special bikes lanes all over and even when there are no bikes lanes, cars are used to seeing bikes about so they are very aware and respectful of bicyclists.
Street bikes are also designed, and are required to be, safe and practical with lights and bells and baskets. Here is my bike:
It's cheap, but has all the necessities including a front and back basket that are handy when I take it out shopping (in fact, that back basket is detachable and has a handle).
Plus, it just feels so good to be out and about on my bike! And good for my body, too!
My bike bell: Auf zwei Rädern bleibt man jung, "On two wheels, you'll stay young."
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Germany is doing a lot to try to recycle as much of their garbage as they can. And this is no voluntary recycling program: everyone is involved. Germany has laws that requires manufacturers, suppliers and retailers to take back and recycle most of their product packaging. The consumer's job (that's me!) is to clean and separate the different kinds of packaging. Yes, you heard me right: clean. And the separating is no easy task, either.
How to throw something away in Germany:
Clean the garbage: The recyclable garbage has to be rinsed out and free of any leftover food. So, yes, I have to clean my garbage.
Sort the garbage:
Here's all the outside garbage bins for our different garbage types (the bins are all color-coded). We have 8 bins in our apartment for our garbage separating our 6 types of garbage including plastic bottles we take back to the store for a deposit.
Put the right bin out on the right day:
This is our garbage calender. I think our landlord explained it to us three times when we first moved in...not because we didn't understand it but because he kept emphasizing to us how important it is to get the garbage out on the right day. 'Cause even though the garbage gets picked up most days of the week, if you miss a bin's day that type of garbage is really starts to pile up!
And don't make the garbage man mad: Or he won't take your garbage. Back when we first moved here and all of out stuff arrived from America, we had a lot of empty cardboard moving boxes. Our landlord assured us that if we put them out on the curb on Paper day, the garbage man would pick them up. But at the end of the day, the paper bin was empty but all the flat boxes were still laying there. Our landlord only huffed an said, "Sometimes you have to bribe them with a bottle of wine." So don't make the garbage man's job any more difficult than it already is...or you'll either be left with your garbage on the curb or out 20 Euros spent on a bottle of wine!
Yes, it can be more than a little confusing at first (whenever we have guests from America we have to give them what we call "The Garbage Tutorial") but you certainly get used to it and it starts to become second nature. When I visit my family in the States my mind starts needlessly sorting the piece of garbage in my hand as I walk to the one lonely kitchen garbage bin. And yes, it takes a little more work to throw something away. But at least when I throw it away I know it's not going "away"...it's getting recycled!
So, remember how I was blogging yesterday about how great it is to use my own pretty reusable shopping bags? Well, today I found out that Allison over at In A Nutshell is hosting a Market Bag Swap to help us all get supplied with our own pretty reusable shopping bags!
And not only will you get to swap pretty bags with someone in the world, you'll also get a chance to win a pretty bag from Thought Ful by Bonnie Jones (whose Carrot Print Bag is below). Go check it out and then join in (by May 20th) by clicking here!
Monday, April 21, 2008
One of the things I really love and admire about Germany is that Germany really loves and admires nature. When I realized that Earth Day was this week, I decided to devote the week on my blog to featuring this country's love for its environment and the little things Germany has integrated into its culture to preserve it and enjoy it.
And I do want to emphasis that these things I'll be posting about in the next few days really are a part of the culture. One thing that kinda annoys me about my native land is the way the United States tends to treat pro-environmental actions as "trendy" or only for "hippies." In Germany, the care for the environment is a given, and it a part of the common outlook and culture of its people. Germany has a deep respect for the environment that they are especially known for...even in Europe where most countries are much more environmental conscience than the United States tends to be. And it's that love of nature in this culture that I'd like to share with you this week.
So, let me introduce to you...the shopping bag!
In Germany, when you go grocery shopping, you are not only expected to bag your groceries yourself, but you are also expected to provide your own bags. So when you're at the store you'll see customers putting their groceries in tote bags, in wicker baskets, in plastic bins...or carrying all their food out to their car in the cart and loading up their groceries in the bags and baskets and bins waiting in the trunk.
If you don't bring your own bags, then the store will have some big plastic or fabric bags that you can buy. But buying bag after bag after a while will really start getting you into the habit of bringing your own. And here are mine:
I went shopping this afternoon and here's my load! These tall pretty bag and pink basket are our standard grocery bags. We keep them in the trunk of our car. And after I bring up the groceries and put them away, I put the bag and basket on a stool next to our front door and the next time one of us heads out we stick them back in the trunk of the car. Easy peasy!
I have other bags, too!
This is my pretty green bag I got in Paris. I like to carry this one when I'm just doing a little shopping in town...out to browse through the bookstore, pick out some treats at the bakery, or check out this week's newest at Tchibo and then I can slip whatever I buy in the one pretty bag and not carry a million plastic bags around. I also like to bring this bag with me when I'm going to Karlsruhe for the afternoon and I want to carry a water bottle and a book to read on the train with me.
This is my other pretty bag. This one holds lots and I usually use it to carry packages to the post office or if I need more bag space when I'm doing my shopping.
And this is my little compact pocket bag. I carry this one in my purse so that when I need a bag and I don't have one of my big pretty ones with me, I can pull out this one, unfold it out of it's little case (which then clips to a loop on the bag) and viola! A handy bag anytime I need it!
I really really like being able to carry my purchases in such pretty reuseable bags. And not having countless plastic store bags floating around the house. And bags like these are very much the norm here in Germany. When you walk through the city center you see Omas carry their wicker baskets filled with bakery goodies and moms with their totes of groceries and men with their plastic baskets filled with beer bottles. It's a good thing.
Friday, April 18, 2008
Kaija's world is all about paper. She spends part of her week in a library surround with books and the rest of her week binding paper, accessorizing with paper and creating her paper treasures for her shop, Paperiaarre.
Look at her beautiful coptic binding:
And this gorgeous botanical brooch, created from a vintage Finnish botany book page:
And I'm so in love with this brilliant journal with a linen drawstring bag (I like that the key image reminds the casual passer-by that the contents are private and the bag allows you store your private musings in a private, secret place!):
But Kaija does play with more than just paper. She also has some wonderful leather and fabric beauties in her shop!
Like this lovely leather necklace:
And this pretty cotton zippered pouch:
And there is so many more treasures from Kaija for you to enjoy at http://paperiaarre.etsy.com. And if you really enjoy her paper world, make sure you check out her blog: http://paperiaarre.blogspot.com (where I hear she's adding experiments with matchboxes to her leather, linen, cotton and paper world!).
Thursday, April 17, 2008
The EtsyBABY Street Team that I belong to is having a special drawing in celebration of Mother's Day (May 11th)!
Look for a photo of the Mother's Little Helper Spa Basket in participating EtsyBABY shops and when you purchase one of the items where the photo appears, you will be entered into our random drawing making you eligible to win the basket of goodies - A $50.00 Value!
I've got a spa basket photo hidden somewhere in my shop, so if you've been looking for an excuse to buy...this is it!
This event begins today, April 17th and will end on May 3rd so the lucky winner can receive the basket in time for Mother's Day. See a list of all the participating shops at http://shopetsyBABY.com.
Even though we've been living in Germany all this time, the writer's strike in the States has really affected us, too! We have a few American TV shows we like that we, of course, can't watch here so we download them every week. So we went through a lot of withdraw when the writer's strike was going on and we rejoiced with the rest of America when it ended...and then waited and waited impatiently for our favorite shows to start up again. And the show I missed the most was The Office.
My brother introduced me to the original British Office a few years back. And for about a month there I watched all the episodes over and over pretty much non-stop. It was about a year later that the American Office premiered and my husband and I were pleasantly pleased with it. After we moved to Germany I would start bugging my husband every Friday morning to start downloading the previous night's episode. But when the writer's strike began...well, our home became mirthless and gloomy to say the least.
But then my wonderful, brilliant, and resourceful husband made a life-saving discovery: a German version of The Office!!
Once he found out that Germany had created their own version of the British masterpiece, he ordered the first three seasons of it on dvd and we had a new source of laughter, painful situations and uncomfortable silences!
But, actually, the German version isn't called The Office, or rather the German-translated das Büro. Instead it's named Stromberg after the main character, the "regional manager", Bernd Stromberg. And it takes place in an insurance company instead of a paper company. But all the important elements are still there!
The "talking heads":
The Tim/Jim, Gareth/Dwight, Dawn/Pam characters (Ulf, Berthold, and Tanja):
And, of course, Stromberg, himself:
But however much fun it's been to hear Ricky Gervais' genius auf Deutsch, we're still very very happy that we can once again enjoy our American Office addiction!!
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Did you know the US Library of Congress has a photostream on Flickr? Yeah, I didn't either...until I read Jordan's Oh Happy Day blog this morning! So I had to go take a look myself...and wow! What a find!
Here are some of my favorites (and I only went through the first 20 pages of over 3,000 photos!)...
Mine rescuer (1910s):
Monument of Oscar Wilde (1910s...there some interesting notes on the history of this monument if you click on the link to it...I think I'll have to go check it out on my next trip to Paris!):
An American pineapple, of the kind the Axis finds hard to digest, is ready to leave the hand of an infantryman in training at Fort Belvoir, Va. American soldiers make good grenade throwers. (between 1941 to 1945...I didn't write this caption, by the way, but I love the caption as much as the photo! This photo also reminds me of this.):
X-ray of Roosevelt [shows bullet] (John Schrank shot Roosevelt in 1912..and here's the bullet to prove it!):
In the Sahara (1910s):
Woman aircraft worker, Vega Aircraft Corporation, Burbank, Calif. Shown checking electrical assemblies. (1942...what isn't great about this photo? The hair-do and the two bright red points of the lipstick and hand tool and then the colors of the wires with the color of her armband, plus that beautiful blouse that I seriously doubt she actually wears to work!):
Ok, ok, enough already! I can't wait to go through more photos! But go find your own favorites! (And a note to my dad...besides some great war-time photos, I saw a lot of old baseball photos in there, too!)
Sunday, April 13, 2008
Saturday, April 12, 2008
Friday, April 11, 2008
I stumbled on a wonderful vintage shop the other day, RetroCycle, who has found things for your home that you are going to love! Why? Because they have already been "preloved," as RetroCycle puts it!
Take for instance this wonderful block set for your kids...they look like they've already been well-loved from some child of the 1950s...and ready for more!
And this flash card is ready to teach your child the value of the number four once again...or be a really cool graphic framed in your home:
Some of my favorite RetroCycle items are for the kitchen, like this beautiful milk glass creamer:
And this very cool, and very sturdy, crock-pot...wouldn't you love seeing this sitting on your counter-top?
And now that you've got your vintage kitchen outfitted, start cooking with vintage recipes...because aren't the old ones always the best, especially when they come from church-going women?
But you can adorn yourself with RetroCycle, too. Take, for instance, this incredible 1960s wedding dress suit:
RetroCycle works with a repurposing and recycling philosophy...that the things we cast aside are only waiting to be rediscovered. And with RetroCycle's discerning eye, you'll be left wondering why any of these items ever needed re-discovering!
Now go start your rediscovering at http://retrocycle.etsy.com. Only remember...hands off the Presbyteri-Yums...that's mine!