Wednesday, July 30, 2008

doors and windows 4

Houston, Texas

Dingle, Ireland

Versailles, France

Oberkirch, Germany

Cambridge, England

Monday, July 28, 2008

barack and berlin

Last Thursday, July 24th, Barak Obama came to town!

Senator Obama made his tour through Europe last week and made a significant stop in Berlin Thursday. I'm sure everyone has heard all about the visit and the speech he made in front of the Siegessäule. I really wish I had made the trip to Berlin to attend his speech (I did look into to a train ticket, buy they were pretty pricey that week) because I believe it was really a significant moment for the German-American relationship, and a significant moment for Obama, especially if he is elected President.

For decades, Germany has had a very good relationship with the United States. Ever since the end of World War II, the US has had a special place in the heart of Germans. Part of the reason for that is the famous Luftbrücke (Air Bridge) over Berlin. When Russia cut off East Berlin with West Berlin in 1948, known as the Berlin Blockade, the United States flew over the Russian occupied part of the city dropping supplies. Germans who were young at the time especially remember the kindness of the Americans to include candy and chocolate for the children in their supply drops.

The American Presidents who have visited Germany are always the most popular with the Germans. I think sometimes that Germans regard John F. Kennedy as one of their own presidents! In 1963 JFK made a significant speech in front of the Schöneberg town hall in West Berlin where he famously said, "Ich bin ein Berliner." I actually once live in an apartment for a few months just a couple of blocks away from the Schöneberg town hall and the square in front of the building, where there is a daily market, is now called John-F.-Kennedy-platz. And in 1987, Ronald Reagan made his famous speech in front of the Berlin Wall at Brandenburg Gate declaring: "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" Even Bill Clinton and the first President Bush made visits to Germany early in their Presidences which thrilled the Germans.

That relationship, unfortunately, has been significantly damaged with the current President Bush. Disagreements over the Iraq War, comments from Secretary of Defense Donlad H. Rumsfeld that Europe was "irrelevant," and the simple fact that Bush waited far too long to pay a visit to the country (not until 2005), all but ruined the traditionally friendly relationship between the countries. I can tell you from my own experiences that very often Germans that I meet here will eventually ask me the question "So what you do think of President Bush?" sizing me up as an American by my attitude toward our President and his policies.

But it seems that Barack Obama's visit last week is already doing a lot to help mend our relationship in the common German's mind. For the most part, the Germans were thrilled to welcome him to Berlin. His visit and his speech have already done a lot, I think, to lay a new, more positive foundation in the future German-American relationship.

And I know that there is a lot of criticism over Obama's European tour and his Berlin speech, and I don't pretend to think that this visit will create a canidate with sudden foreign experience nor a worthy JFK-pretender, but, no matter whom I intend to vote for this November, as an American ex-pat in Germany, I'm so glad someone in the States is considering this tense relationship between my two homes.

Missed the speech? Read a full transcript here. And all the photos came from here.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

ipod, my pod!

I asked my husband for an iPod for my birthday. I don't think I've ever thrilled him more. He bought his iPod as a graduation present for himself and he has been begging me to let him get me one ever since. But I never saw the need for the amount of money they cost. But I've been wanting one lately. And yesterday my pretty new little iPod arrived in the mail!!

I ordered a pretty case for it from Handmade Pretties and Karl helped me put lots of music and episodes of The Office on it last night and this morning (once I was able to get it out of my husband's hands) I laid on the sofa far too long listening to my iPod shuffle through all my new music while playing solitaire included with my iPod games.

I'm looking forward to good times to be shared with my new little pretty friend!

Friday, July 25, 2008

favorite shop friday: sugar cookie couture

I've mentioned before that I have a cookie cutter collection. I love my little collection and I'm always on the look-out for new, unique forms...but I hardly ever use them. I make sugar cookies maybe twice a year.

But I found a shop that not only uses unique and adorable forms but makes the cookies for me so I don't have to clean up the mess, decorates them more beautifully then I could ever hope to have the talent for! Feast your eyes on Sugar Cookie Couture!

Although they look too beautiful to eat, Linzy of Sugar Cookie Couture assures me they are too delicious not to eat! And not only can you order beautiful, delicious cookies from her, Linzy will also work with you to design your own unique cookies for whatever event you're having.

Now stop drooling on your keyboard and go order your cookies at

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

"and so the two walked..."

When I spent the afternoon at the Karlsruhe Palace last week, I went looking for a pretty sclupture hidden in the trees that I found the first time I went to the palace gardens. I know nothing about the sculpture other than it has a date of 1866 on it and there is a beautiful inscription on the pillar between the couple that reads, "Also gingen die zwei entgegen der sinkenden Sonne" - "And so the two walked against the setting sun." I climbed up the stones it stands on and braved the broken beer bottles, cigarette butts and graffiti and got some detail photos of the pair.

And so the two walked...

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

market tote swap

So, remember how In a Nutshell had her summer Market Tote Bag Swap? Wanna see the bag I made?

I made it from some heavy-weight cotton I had leftover from another bag project and the red arrow block I found in this book I recently bought with great quilts with house blocks.

So I guess the arrow is really a house but it looked more like an arrow to me. But I really liked how the block turned out no matter if it's a house or an arrow!

Monday, July 21, 2008

friendship baby quilt

During the 1840s in the United States a new kind of quilt appeared: the friendship quilt. This quilt was made by a group of family and friends to commemorate special events like marriage, birth ,someone moving away, or death. All the love of the community around a person created a soft, warm, beautiful quilt.

I had the privilege of helping create a friendship quilt for a baby to commemorate both his brith and death. A pregnant woman at my church learned her baby had a medical condition he would not survive. So the women at my church joined forces for a quilt...something he would sadly never be able to use in life but give his parents, who could not buy any baby items for their son, something tangible to help remember him.

Each woman made a cross-stitch and I pieced them all together and quilted petal patterns. The result was as unique as all the women taking part. While some cross-stitch pictures were beautifully done, others were a little rough but sweet, and all together they created a quilt that showed the love of each of these women for this little family and their baby. It was really an honor to be a part of the creation of this memorial for their tiny son.

Here are a few photos of the finished quilt. (I'm sorry the lighting is so bad. I kept forgetting to take photos of it until late the night before it was given to the family and then I hurridly enlisted my husband's help and got some photos of it in our bathroom.) (Oh, and I don't recommend piecing cross-stitching into a quilt. I've learned you can't wash them...or all the colors will run.)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

german music: sportfreunde stiller

There's a big music festival going on in Karlsruhe this weekend called Das Fest. Lots of well-known musicians come and play all weekend and the best part about it is that it's all free!

One of Karl's favorite German bands, Sportfreunde Stiller, was playing last night so he went to watch them (I didn't feel up to all the crowds, so I stayed home watching Friends and quilting).

The crowd last night at Das Fest...

...enjoying Sportfreunde Stiller...

Sportfreunde Stiller is three guys from Munich...

...who use to play soccer together. Their best known song is actually an annoyingly catchy song about German soccer (which we've been hearing a lot lately with the Euro Championship recently ended). But their other stuff is pretty good. I've always thought of them with a typically cheery German sound.

Alles Roger (Everything Roger):

Ohne deine Liebe (Without your Love):

Friday, July 18, 2008

favorite shop friday: bridget davies

Bridget Davies is an embroidery designer who will design and hand make the most beautiful handbags, passport holders and pillows that may ever be in your possession!

Her fabrics are fairly neutral in color so they are sure to go with whatever you have and are made with wonderful-to-the-touch fabrics like suede and silk.

Although she lives in the UK, I think her work as a bit of a feminine, Parisian touch. At least, I can easily imagine them in my pretty, little, hard-wood floored, apartment of my dreams with French doors looking out to the Eiffel Tower or Big Ben or the Colosseum or some European view. But no matter what you view is or where you travel to, Bridget Davies' designs are sure to pretty it up!

Bring a little bit of prettiness into your life from

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

schloss karlsruhe

Today I spent most of the day at the Karlsruhe Palace.

The city of Karlsruhe is about 30 minutes north of us. Karlsruhe is known for its excellent university, for being the seat of the German Supreme Court and for it's beautiful 18th-century palace. The margraves and grand dukes of Baden (this region of Germany) lived in this palace between 1715 and 1918. Although the palace was hit by bombs in World War II, it was slowly rebuilt after the war and is now a museum of the area's history.

The palace was built as the center of the city designed around it with avenues fanning out from it like the spokes of a wheel (which is where the city's nick-name, die Fächerstadt - the Fan City). The city spreads out from the front of the castle but the back of the castle has expansive gardens and trees and meadows. I've spent much time in the gardens and wandering the palace grounds, but today was the first time I visited the museum inside.

Afterwards I read a book sitting on the grass behind the museum, then wandered the grounds some more. One of the things I love about these kinds of palaces and palace gardens of Europe is the thought that these places were never built for the likes of me. And yet, here I am, enjoying gardens planted for a duke!

The palace tower from the gardens:

A view of the font of the palace looking out to the city from the top of the tower:

Kicking off my shoes:

The little train the runs through the gardens:

Friday, July 11, 2008

favorite shop friday: keep calm and carry on

Karl and I have had a bit of a stressful week so I thought it would be a good week to feature this shop: Keep Calm and Carry On.

Back in 1939, British King George VI commissioned propaganda posters at the outbreak of the war and, maybe because they are just so cool but maybe because we need the comforting again, they are making a comeback in our contemporary society: Keep Calm and Carry On. It's so simple, so direct, so British. So calming.

Thanks to today's shop, you can carry around your own bit of calming influence in the form of hand-printed bags:

shopping bags...

sailor duffel bags...

and (my favorite) retro flight bags...

You can find these bags at but there are a lot more comforting propaganda to be found at their website at

Now, keep calm. And carry on.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

mork and me

I've been doing a lot of quilting lately...and I'll show you all I've been creating as they get finished...but that also means I've been watching a lot of TV, too. I tend to put in a dvd when I get my quilting out. I usually put in some chick-flick while I cut or sew or quilt (that or listen to This American Life online). But this past week I've been distracting myself with old episodes of Mork and Mindy. I haven't seen this show for years and years but for some nostalgic reason or other I asked my husband to find the first season for us to watch again and this week it's been keeping me company as I work.

I have fond memories of Mork and Mindy. When I was little, my parents would take us the Mr. Gaddy's Pizza where there was a big-screen TV and we would have pizza and root beer as a family and watch Mork and Mindy on the big screen. It was such a simple thing but it was one of our favorite family traditions (aren't the simple ones always the most memorable?). Watching Mork and Mindy again, I'm remembering what a weird, happy little show it was and finding that I still crave pizza and root beer and missing my family as I watch it. It's strange that Robin Williams in all his rainbow clothes can make my whole childhood come back to me...

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

our fourth

Even in Germany we were able to celebrate American Independence Day!

On the 4th we were able to have a barbeque with some other American friends, making the evening a very American event. We had hamburgers and hot dogs, baked beans and pasta salads, and cupcakes and ice cream sundaes! Of course, the hamburgers were eaten with Italian ciabatta bread, the hot dogs were really German bratwursts and the cupcakes were make with dark German chocolate and much of our conversations were of various summer trips to Greece and France and Ireland and our enjoyment of German culture so the evening still had a very international flair! But, then, American culture is a melting pot itself!

I made the cupcakes and they were so yummy! Cakes and cupcakes are not at all German so I made them from scratch from this amazing recipe. They were easy and turned out very rich and chocolaty and super-moist...almost brownie-like. I took the recommendation of this amazing blogger and "frosted" them with whip cream and added fresh raspberries on top...they tasted sooo good with the rich chocolate! I must insist you try them out!

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