The other night my friend Denise tried to teach me how to knit.
She was a very good and very patient teacher...but, apparently, I'm not a very good knitter.
I do want to learn how to knit, though. Hopefully she'll be kind enough to give me a follow-up lesson and maybe I'll get the hang of it. Maybe.
Thursday, January 31, 2008
The other night my friend Denise tried to teach me how to knit.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
One year ago today, some very happy things happened in my family.
I have an older brother and a younger sister. And by the time we all got to be over the age of 21, my mother was more than ready to have some grandchildren in her family. My brother and I married, but we were in no hurry to have those grandchildren for my mother. My sister would have been more than happy to appease her, but she couldn't find herself a husband. By the time we were all over the age of 30...well, my mother wasn't very happy with us. And my baby-hungry sister still couldn't find her man.
But guess what happened a year ago today?
My sister got engaged to her wonderful husband! Aren't they so cute together?
And guess what else happened? My brother's wife gave birth to my mother's first grandchild, Max! Just 2 days before my mother's own birthday! Isn't he so cute? (And yes, that's the sock monkey quilt his aunt Heather made for him!)
Happy Birthday, Max! And Happy Birthday, Grandma!
(My sister, my mother, and Max in Utah last November.)
Saturday, January 26, 2008
Europe is a continent with many cultures speaking many languages living very close to one another. So sometimes communication isn't easy. I have found that public signs in Europe tend to be very graphic making them easy to read. So that no matter what culture you come from or what language you speak you'll be able to understand the signs...even though sometimes they turn out not so easy to read and quite confusing. And some are just funny.
Since we moved here we've been collecting photographs of signs. So I thought it would be fun to start a series of posts on my blog sharing our collection.
And to start this series I present a very easy to understand, not at all confusing, straight-to-the-point sign we spotted while we were out apartment hunting a few days ago:
Friday, January 25, 2008
Trompe l'oeil. That's the term that always come to my mind whenever I look through today's favorite shop. It's an art term that means "fool the eye" and, to me, that's the theme of Emma's work in her shop Showpony.
For example, her vintage shopping totes: is it a lacy Victorian handbag or a practical cotton tote bag?
And look at these darling vintage clutch purses! Do they have a dainty button closure or a handy zipper closure?
But however much I adore her screen-printed bags, it's her Hiding Place purses that I really love! This beautiful clutch is covered with a gorgeous pattern of pretty leaves, birds and flowers...but take a peek under the folds...
...and you'll find a darker side of nature: spiders, bugs and thorns!
And look at how she's designed her Passing Time bags...
For me, her bags are beautiful, charming and fun...but also carry a statement on how we tend to cover the ugly parts of life either by disguising it or by hiding it completely. How we tend to try to "fool the eye" in life!
You can keep up-to-date with Emma and her Showpony doings on her blog. (And she's also having a sale on all her Hidden Pattern products until Saturday, January 26th...so if you hurry you can have a great bag at a great price!) You'll find her shop at http://showpony.etsy.com.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
So we've started our apartment hunting here in Germany and we're learning a lot of things.
For example, the other day I called my German friend twice with a dozen questions about what all these strange abbreviations in the newspaper ads meant: 3 ZKB with an EBK, 480 euro rent plus NK with 2MM KT...huh? And what's the difference between a cold rent and a warm rent? And just how big is 75 squared meters...I'm still not use to thinking of things in metric terms?!
And another thing...it is not a given that the apartment will have a kitchen. They seem to all have everything you'll need in a bathroom, but the kitchen may have everything or nothing or just a few things. Germans tend to take the kitchen with them when they move...everything: cabinets, stove, oven, fridge, everything. Sometimes they'll offer to let you buy the kitchen from them...so the kitchen remains there and you just pay an extra few hundred euros when you move in to pay for it. Sometimes the kitchen is built in and stays with the apartment...in fact that's what we learned an EBK meant: Einbauküche = built-in kitchen. Sometimes they let you offer to pay for any part of the kitchen you want to remain...like we'll pay for the appliances, but you can take all the cabinets. It's kind of strange for us...we're not use to wondering if our new apartment is going to have a kitchen or not!
For the most part, though, it isn't too different from apartment hunting in America. We search through the ads in the paper and on the internet then make a lot of phone calls and go see a lot of apartments.
In fact, remember that house in my little village of Oberweier that had the kitsch-y mural? That happened to be the first place we went and looked at last week!
We didn't like it so much, though. It was fairly big but had an odd, uncomfortable layout. The best part about it was the kitsch-y mural on the outside!
So...back to all the ads and phone calls and deciphering all the abbreviations...
Sunday, January 20, 2008
Ahhh...Paris! The city of love! I've decided I want to share some of my love with all of you...
So I'm having a bit of a Valentine's Day sale in my shop! Between now and the end of February, a little bear has hidden himself in my shop. Under three different items, actually. If you find him AND buy that item, you'll receive a free gift! Made by me! Because I heart you!
All the details are found in my shop...so go ahead! Start searching! http://babyannequilts.etsy.com
(And, by the way, you can also find little Bow-Bear -- that's his name! -- at these other EtsyBaby shops: http://goldtonedesigns.com/bowbear. There are a lot of free gifts out there!)
Friday, January 18, 2008
This week's favorite shop of mine is elloh, selling the artwork of el (short for ellen) lohse.
There is just something about el's art that I like and I can't quite put my finger on it.
Maybe it's her popular culture subject matter...she seems to have the perfect sense of picking out the modern classics as well as the classic classics:
Or maybe it's the movies that inspire her which are all on my favorites list (am I sensing a kindred spirit?):
Or maybe it's the way she uses -- or doesn't use -- color:
Or perhaps it's her style...el seems to capture a character and mood perfectly with her almost cartoon-ish style while still retaining the smart intelligence of her topic:
Maybe it's simply because she has a whole series of paintings based on my all-time favorite movie:
Whatever the reason...I like her work...it makes me happy!
Go find your favorites (because I certainly found too many to post here) at http://elloh.etsy.com.
Thursday, January 17, 2008
Last Friday I received my beautiful, adorable, charming passport cover from revontulitikku in Finland!
Since I'm a foreigner in a foreign land, I carry my passport around a lot. So I like to keep it in something protective.
This is my old passport cover:
Clear plastic slip-on cover in a clear plastic pocket that's starting to rip. Yuck. But no more! Now I have something pretty to show off while waiting in the passport control line!
This is how much I love my new passport cover: Karl brought the little package in from the mailbox on Friday when he came home from work. Remember Friday? The day we got the news that we needed to figure out if we were going to stay in Germany forever or not? So as Karl is telling me how we need to decide if we were going to stay in Germany forever or not I'm opening my little package and kept interrupting this life-changing news with "Look how pretty!" and "I can't wait to pull my passport out when I'm standing in the passport control line somewhere!" and "Wait just a sec, baby, I want to go grab my passport real quick!"
Yeah, it was love at first sight!
Monday, January 14, 2008
We have just had the most stressful weekend.
First of all, some background information: My husband, Karl, works for a German engineering firm. He was hired by the US branch of the firm in Ohio and was sent here just a couple of months after he was hired for a two-year assignment. In November we found out that the two-year assignment was going to be cut short and instead of going home in October 2008 we'd be going home in January 2008. That made us very sad because we've loved living here and we weren't ready to go home to Ohio yet. Living in Germany over the past 16 months has been a dream come true for us. We love this country and its culture and we love Europe. We wanted to have the chance to live here as long as we could.
(Photo of me gazing out at the beautiful Black Forest view over the Christmas holiday trying to make a mental photo knowing that view would soon be gone.)
Well...this past week Karl found out that the firm here in Germany want him to stay...but not just to serve out the original 2-year contract but permanently. Forever. And ever. Or at least for as long as we wanted to. Five years. Twenty years. Until we retire. Until we die. Our choice.
Be careful what you wish for, people, 'cause it might actually come true and then you are face-to-face with the reality of the situation and it scares you half to death.
Think of what this would mean, being an American living permanently in Germany, because it really hit us hard: our children would grow up German, our families would be on the other side of the world and they might hate us just a little bit for staying on the other side of the world by choice, we'll have to keep downloading the American TV shows we like instead watching them as they air on TV, there are a lot more taxes in Germany and the gas prices are three times more expensive and we would keep paying them, plus we'd have to keep speaking German and working on our German and concentrating on listening to German (and that can really be a work-out on your brain). Of course, we thought of the perks...I mean, it's Germany. In Europe. The land of self-serve produce and baked goods stands and where Paris is an inexpensive train ride away instead of an expensive plane trip. Where we can raise our children bi-lingual and vacation in the Swiss Alps and have much better health-care than in America and eat our schnitzel dinners in cozy Biergartens. Yes, there are definitely some perks.
And then there are the really scary, immediate things like finding an apartment, buying a car and I would need to find a job. The company actually found and pays for the apartment we currently live in, as well as the car we currently drive...all part of the original 2-year contract. But becoming a permanent employee would mean that we would now have to take care of these things ourselves. Of course, everyone kept reminding us that we'd have to take care of all these things -- find a job, find a home, buy a car, etc. -- no matter if we were in the US or Germany. But we kept thinking that if we had to do them in Germany...we would have to do them in German!!
It's like that famous feminist quote -- and I can't remember now who said it -- saying that Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did...but backwards and in high heels. Sure, we'd have to take care of all the same stuff in Germany as in America...but in Germany it would be in German! At a job interview I would be less worried about impressing them with my clothes or resume and only be thinking, "Just please speak clearly and slowly so I can understand you and please don't ask me anything that I don't have the vocabulary to answer!" And will my husband be able to convince the car salesman that he knows more than a little bit about cars so don't you dare try to screw us over just because he has as an foreign accent! And what in the world does this renting contract say?! It's all in hard-to-understand German legal language with super-long compound words!!
And the really hard thing about making this decision? We had one weekend's time to make it. We found all this out on Friday and the company needed to know first thing Monday morning what we wanted to do...go back to Ohio or stay in Germany forever. A major life-changing decision. One weekend. Less than 72 hours.
So we spent our weekend making pro/con lists, seeking the advice of our parents, talking logistics with our German friends, coming up with more questions than we could possibly find answers for in one short weekend. And praying. A lot. And getting a lot of headaches and not sleeping well at all.
After gathering all the information we had time to gather, going over and over the pros and cons, and having a lot of meaningful discussions, we began to see the events of the past couple of years of our lives with new meaning and new understanding. Let's just say...God works in mysterious and confusing ways. And late Sunday night we finally came to a decision.
And so...it is with great excitement and trepidation that I declare to everyone in blogland...
Friday, January 11, 2008
re:makeables is an amazing little shop that takes every-day-items and remakes them into wonderfully unique works of art!
Check out this tape dispenser...
I will be ripping paper all the time if it meant I could mend them using this darling tape dispenser!
And I am just in love with this wonderful tiny little basket...
The items are all one-of-a-kind and hand painted Ms Sakiko of Japan. And they are adorable!!
I think my very favorite are the buttons...tiny little works of art, every one of them!
I'm sure you will love every little thing that re:makeables has to offer! You'll find them at http://remakeables.etsy.com and don't miss their website with lots more re:makeables fun at http://www.remakeables.com.
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
My home is in a tiny little village called Oberweier just outside the city of Bühl, Germany. Although I could walk to the center of Bühl in 20 minutes, Oberweier is still completely isolated from it. I love this little village. It is at least as old as the early 1700s and I don't think it has grown an inch since then. It is charming and comfortable and I love it.
Today I took a walk around the village, taking pictures of its details. We'll be moving back to the US at the end of the month, and I don't want to forget these details.
The house across the street that was built in 1726:
The electricity source with the Black Forest beyond:
The chicken coop on the main street:
The center of this tiny village...the chapel flanked by the town hall on the right and the Biergarten on the left. We love eating at this cozy Biergarten:
The little chapel was built in the early 1700s:
A kitsch-ish mural on the side of a house...
...and another one on some garage doors:
A self-serve stand in front of someone's house....they sell baked goods or whatever fruit or vegetable is in season (today it's fresh bread), just leave your money in the dish:
Monday, January 7, 2008
Saturday, January 5, 2008
So, I've noticed that I've been noticed!
Butterfli's (that's her dragonfly bracelet below) has included my shop in her list of top Etsy shops on her blog...take a look here (and keep scrolling down..you'll see me!).
My shop has also been included on this blog: All things Handmade. It's a place where you can search for different, selected Etsy shops and get a little preview of their wares. Look for me here (again, keep scrolling...keep scrolling...I'm down there!). This fun blog is the mastermind of several Etsy sellers including Littleput Books who created the pretty dragonfly pendant below!
Friday, January 4, 2008
I'm in love with this darling little shop...The Little Bakery Co.!
Elizabeth is the mastermind behind the sweetest sweets you'll ever see...she makes soft cupcakes and felt cookies for your princess to play with. I love the chocolaty brown and pink striped French box they arrive in! They remind me of the beautiful patisserie displays I saw in Paris...
She even has all the trimmings for your little sweetheart to do her own baking!
Like this cherry apron...
and this cupcake baking and decorating set...
If you have a little girl in your life...or if you're like me and just like feeling like a little girl sometimes...don't miss all the sweets in this sweet shop!
You'll find The Little Bakery Shop Co. at http://thelittlebakeryco.etsy.com.
So I got my fabric all cut yesterday and even pieced it all together. I think it turned out really cute! Here's a little peek...
This morning I layered it and then started working on yet another quilt! I had a certain quilt all planned out for a while now...I had the fabric and everything...I just hadn't done anything with it until today. I cut the fabric, pieced, then layered it all together. Two quilts in two days...I'm on a roll!
I still need to do the quilting and binding on them, but I thought I would get as many quilts pieced and layered as I can before we move back to the states. When we move my sewing machine will be sent by boat so I won't have it for 6-8 weeks. I figure if I at least get a lot of quilts to the hand-quilting stage then I can be quilting while I wait for my machine to arrive to finish up the binding.
Hmmmm...what else around here can I dig my rotary cutter into...?
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
Look at this pretty fabric I got on my trip to Utah in November! There are a range of colorful retro fabrics and a bunch of pinks and browns:
I washed them all a couple of days ago and they've been hanging up waiting for me to figure out how to cut them. And this morning, while I was in the shower, I think I figured it out.
I use to work for a woman who came up with all her solutions for her job in the shower. She would start half our staff meetings with "In the shower this morning..." I always thought that I never wanted to be the kind of person who not only couldn't keep work at work but even brought work into the shower. And what was I doing this morning...thinking about my work in the shower. But I guess that all depends on what your work is and how much you enjoy it...and, right now at least, mine is all pretty fabrics and that's a nice thing to think about!
So...I've decided what I want to do with all the colorful retro fabrics (still not sure what to do with the pinks and browns, but that will come) so instead of cleaning up the kitchen and putting in some laundry like I was planning, I did some sketching and now I'm going to start cutting in a moment. I love this phase in making a quilt...when the ideas suddenly start rolling!
Now stay tuned to see what my freshly washed head has come up with!