Thursday, October 29, 2009

Fall Musings

Yesterday was a perfect fall day for a walk... not too cold and rainy to keep one inside, but just gray enough to put one in a reflective and contemplative mood. I enjoyed soaking in the sites of fall's offerings, which one could easily pass by since the splendor is not as obvious and showy as in summer. Shades of reds, yellows, and oranges are a reminder that it is just a short time before grays and whites will replace it's warm palette...

... my thoughts wander to early last summer. While taking a walk with my mother-in-law, she was filled with excitement as she inhaled long and deep the fresh summer air and exclaimed " doesn't it just smell like summer?" As I repeated her actions and drank in the deep aromatic air, it became so obvious to me... no, actually these were not the smells and the sights that are linked to my memories of the season... they were actually formed many miles from here and look and smell quite differently.

As I completed my stroll yesterday, I pondered the thought that even now, I am learning new smells and sights that will one day evoke that feeling of... ahhhh, doesn't that just remind you of....

Did you know that smell is the sense closest linked to memory?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


I guess I have a confession to make...

Even though I sell quilting fabrics, and work with them almost daily... I have never personally made a quilt. There it is... it is out in the open for the whole world to know.

My aunt is an absolutely fantastic quilter and would love nothing more than to pass on her passion for the "much patience required" past time. I have long since admired her work, as well as other talented quilters, and am almost blown away and sometime left breathless... especially when I look at some of the incredible art quilts out there because I can at least recognize and appreciate the time that it took to make them. But I have to admit that I am a "let's get it done", "don't bore me with the little details" kind of a girl, which could explain having never picked up the art before.

I know since our announcement of the "pitter-patter" of little feet on the way, you must have expected to see some upcoming baby projects... me too! It is like I have itching fingers to get started, but without the "green light" to get going.. because during the last ultrasound some little one did not want to cooperate with us. (must be a trait from "daddy"... hee, hee) I am finding it quite difficult to sew gender neutral things because if it is boy, I want to go all out with tractors and trucks. Of course, if it is a girl I want to create with pretty and feminine fabrics... what is a girl to do?!?

But I have decided that I would like to prepare something special for baby while I have the time... I envision wrapping the little one in this small quilt for the ride home. Baby's First Blanket... soft and warm, and made with love. Keep your fingers crossed for me that it actually comes to pass.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Joel Dewberry "Deer Valley" Fabrics

A couple weeks ago I introduced one of the strong male designers in the world of fabric designing. So I thought it long overdue to introduce you to another one of my favorite male designers who, in my opinion, gives the ladies a pretty good run for their money. Joel Dewberry, a trained Graphic Designer and graduate of Brigham Young University, has taken the quilting world by storm with five fantastic fabric collections. His latest collection "Deer Valley" was inspired by "mountain meadows and the occasional passing deer", and is fabulous in every sense of the word.

This family man of four children, only launched his textiles brand in 2007, but had already attained recognition and is considered a strong presence in the field. His new collection combines so nicely and is such an unexpected contrast to other collections now available.

Always high quality fabric and great color palettes to work with, "Deer Valley" is perfect for a variety of favorite projects. Joel Dewberry's "Deer Valley" collection can be found here.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Forbidden Fruit Tastes So Good

One of the first things that happens to a gal when she reveals to the world about the upcoming "pitter-patter" of little feet, is that she receives what seems like a mile long list of what "to do" or "not to do" during pregnancy. Of course many things on the list go without saying... such as smoking (not a problem here), beer, wine, and alcohol in general (even the thought of the smell turns my stomach), and coffee/caffeine (poor husband now has to drink coffee on the other side of the table). Even though I have not fallen victim to such vices, and junk food and McDonald's at three o'clock in the morning have not tempted me, I have been struggling with one "don't" since I started the list... SUSHI!

Other sushi lovers might understand the difficulty of such a task as to avoid the actually rather healthy delicacy. Rice, vegetables, and fish... really it only takes a short time of looking at all the thin and attractive people in the Asian culture to realize that they might be doing something right... but the hang up is that "preggies" shouldn't eat raw fish.

Well, they say if you can't get in the front door then try the window... so I did! Not all sushi is made with raw fish (even though tuna is my favorite), so cooked crab and fried shrimp were a quite tasty substitute. Last weeks trip to the grocery store found me lingering in the international food section for everything that a girl might need for the inexpensive, DIY at home alternative.

It was actually quite fun to settle in for a Friday evening, "couple's night" before the baby is there, and prepare sushi together. It is not that difficult, but you just need a little time for the whole chop session. It is less about the process and more about the time spent together.

Needless to say, it was yummy, fresh, and divine... just the way forbidden fruit should taste.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Halfway There

I can remember when we went on our Honeymoon almost three years ago, the airline we were traveling with had called us to the front desk to clarify something with our flight plans... "Familie Richter" (Family Richter), they called over the loud speaker. When my husband had returned, he turned to me and said "Family Richter"... that's right, we are a family now. What a simple, but yet life realizing statement.

I guess at that time I had never really viewed us in that way yet, and the definition of family these days really is quite a stretch from the traditional definition in my parents day. Often I have thought of a family as more than just two, but in today's world two is all you need. In January we will celebrate three years of being a family. In this aspect it is my husband that I have turned to and relied on, who I have shared the deepest things in my heart, my joys and my sorrows, and he is the one who simply walks beside me in life ... and that makes him my family.

But as most things in life, some things change. Some good changes some bad, some that make one reflect and ponder, and some that happen so quickly that you do not have enough time to process the reality of it. And we are now in that season of change... a redefining of what we have called family over the past three years. I guess it is kind of fitting that we become three in the third year of our lives together...

While I have loved my life and my "family" these past few years, there have been times that it has seemed like someone was missing... simply that I have felt like someone else should be there. So in our season of change we are halfway there, halfway there to meeting the special someone that is growing inside... that someone who will make our family more complete.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

From The Pumpkin Patch

Last year my grandmother sent me a wonderful surprise package. I had been telling her that I would be needing to make my Thanksgiving meal this year from scratch and needed to "invade" her recipe box for just how to do that. I guess in the States, we have gotten accustomed to having everything ready made... just add water kind of thing. So she had lovingly packed boxes of stuffing, and cans of cranberries and pumpkin for the event... everything that I needed for our traditional fall meal. I did make a pumpkin pie and discovered the second can this last week... what a perfect ingredient for a fall cake.

I guess I have really been on a roll with fall decorations and now those yummy meals that only taste good this time of year are working their way to the top of my recipe list. I find that I am pulling out my favorite cookbook quite often these days. Filled with all the basic recipes and simple "how-to's" of cooking, my $2.75 flea market find, Better Homes and Garden New Cookbook, has been well worth the money. You can even still see the price sticker at the top.

So for traditional coffee and cake time this last week with the in-laws, I made a really yummy pumpkin nut bread. Even though it is technically a bread, it is sweet enough for most Germans to enjoy it as a cake. Spicy, moist, and delicious.

Pumpkin Nut Bread

2 cups flower
2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup shortening or lard

2 eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin (or fresh pureed)
1/4 cup milk

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 cup raisins

Mix dry ingredients and set aside. Beat shortening and brown sugar together until well combined. Beat in eggs. Add pumpkin and milk and mix well. Add flour mixture and mix well. Fold in nuts. Turn into a greased loaf pan and bake at 350 for 55 to 60 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes and cool completely. Wrap and store overnight before slicing.


Saturday, October 10, 2009

How To Make A Wreath

After reading Juliette's and Jeannette's comments on my last post, I was really glad that I had decided to do a post on how to make a fall/autumn wreath, or any wreath for that matter. It really is simple and lots of fun and leaves one with that satisfied feeling of... "yeah, look what I did... I made it myself". So to get started, you need:

Foam Wreath Ring (can be purchased at most craft stores, in Germany I got mine at OBI)
Floral Wire
Wire Cutters
Moss, selected Flowers & Herbs

Cover the foam wreath with a section of moss at a time. I used fresh moss here, but Spanish moss also works great as a base. Wrap the floral wire around the foam wreath form securing the moss in place. Add a second layer of moss to the first section and so on until your foam wreath is completely covered. Do not worry if your wire is not green, this is not seen once the wreath is complete.

Select fall flowers. I simply used flowers and herbs from my garden, shrub cuttings, and berries from bushes in my back yard. If you live close to a wooded area, a walk can be a great combination of getting a little fresh air and a fun collecting time. Look for unusual items and even items that might already be dried. In this case I used dried poppy heads and hydrangea that was well past it's bloom. Herbs also add a great smell to a wreath and often dry beautifully. I happened to use basil and oregano flowers in this wreath.

Group flowers together to form a mini "bouquet". You can alternate flowers that are used in each section if so desired. Secure the bouquet together by wrapping the floral wire around the end of the bouquet. After a few turns, attach the bouquet to the moss wreath using the floral wire.

Create a second "bouquet" and layer it, slightly overlapping the first bouquet. Continue the same step layering the flowers so they all lay the same direction until wreath is complete. For the last section I tuck the last bouquet slightly under the first so the wreath has a full look.

Tah Dah! See, I told you it wasn't that hard. Happy Creating!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Fall Decorations

It dawned on me the other afternoon that I did not have any fall decorations out and it was already well into October. So a quick trip to the store and an afternoon snippet session in my garden was all I needed for a simple, affordable, and welcoming front door decoration.

When I was in college I was really into growing and drying flowers and herbs and did several floral wreaths as presents and just as a hobby... the perfect stress relief. I actually had a whole room set up where I would sit in the middle of the floor and literally surround myself with flowers and get to work. It would probably go without saying that the room had such a divine smell... ahhh.

After working on this wreath, I was asking myself... why have I not done this more often? Well, I guess I do have several season coming up to remedy that. What are your favorite fall decorations to create?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Jason Yenter Fabric

You've heard of Amy, Heather, Anna, and Tula around here, but have you ever heard of Jason? In the female dominated world of fabric designing, sometimes the male presence is overlooked. Two of my favorite male fabric designers on the scene these days are Joel Dewberry (coming soon) and Jason Yenter. You may not have heard of either of them, but their work definitely speaks for itself.

Started as a small retail business over 30 years ago, In the Beginning Fabrics was founded by Sharon Yenter to provide high quality fabrics for crafters and quilters. Since then the business has grown and her son Jason now not only runs the business, but designs fabric for the company. What I love about Jason's work is that it is an explosion of graphic and radial symmetry combined with strong colors.

With purple being the trend color for the season, it is just perfect for fall projects. Jason Yenter's Floragraphix IV fabrics, also in deep, rich reds can be found here.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Die Vergangenheit / The Past

To come from a land that is comparatively still quite "young", it is such a stark contrast to marry into a family where history can be traced back long before my homeland even became a country. Many years back, a few of my husband relatives decided to do the exact same thing that I did... make another country their home. A recent visit from the relatives from Chile sparked the need for a family reunion. Gathered at the family home, distant relatives, many of whom I had never met, and most of whom I had, gathered to celebrate and embrace the heritage of just where it is that they have come from.

My husband's grandmother had gathered several of the family heirlooms together, almost like a museum exhibit, to introduce and remind those of the history of the family name. Photos of ancestral patriarchs and matriarchs were among the treasures of heirlooms.

Precious silver pieces that were given as a wedding present in 1822, shined just as brightly as if they had not even served hundreds of meals that they had over the generations.

An antique sewing box from Paris, once belonging to a Lieutenant in the the family, despite it's almost 200 year old age, cracked mirror, and missing pieces, was still so fascinating.

A tea set belonging to my husband's great, great, great grandmother looked as if it were ready to serve the next cup of hot tea or coffee with cream and a lump of sugar.

Old documents full of family history, births, deaths, baptisms, and other stories accompanied the precious antiques that filled the room. One document even dated back to 1579 when the Count in the region had released the family estate to my husband's family.

I was truly taken aback and amazed. For so long, I have desired to embrace history and the things that make us who we are. I have always been sentimental and while many may overlook those things that they just consider "old", it seems to speak to that deep longing that has been hidden in me. It is sometimes a hard thought to think that I will have the respsonsiblity to carry on those things... things that I feel are deeper than what I realize. It is only just a small part of the history that I have to tell...
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