Saturday, February 27, 2010

Outdoor Friends

It's amazing to me, despite the strong, still silence that usually seems to accompany the snow, how much life, sound, and activity is going on even with the cold,wintery blanket. With having snow that has stayed for so long now, we have made sure to have our bird feeders fully stocked for our flying friends that might otherwise have a few of their favorite snacks buried at the moment.

I have very much missed our pheasants that seemed to have wondered into our backyard quite frequently last year. This year only one lone pheasant found his way back. But to my surprise, we had an early visitor for Easter this year... "Mr. Hare". I guess I would generally have the tendency to apply the term "rabbit" for our friend, but having lived in Germany for some time now, I have have learned that there are distinct words for distinct things. (sometimes to an extreme) But I thoroughly enjoyed watching our friend through the window nibbling on a few buds that were within reach. Curious about the difference between a rabbit and a hare?

Our most entertaining friends have been the sweet, little red squirrels that seem to scamper out as fast as they scamper in. I have caught several of them in the bird feeder stealing what they could before the few territorial birds that guard the feeder flew back in. In West Virginia we do not really have this smaller red version, but it is the gray squirrel that dominates. We had put out a few cracked walnuts that had been gathered earlier in the fall, with the bowl of whole nuts just above on our outside table. It was quite entertaining to watch the squirrels hoping back and forth to sneak one nut at a time, only to scurry away to their favorite "secret" hiding place. The look of shock was priceless when one fluffy friend ran back and discovered the bowl was empty. One could almost see the confusion and shock, and I imagine something like "hey, I know this is where the nuts were yesterday" was running through his furry little head.

There is now a small glimmer of hope in my heart that the snow will soon be melted and spring will finally come with it's beautiful array of green and colors. One could easily reflect that one good thing about the snow is that it forces one to stop and linger a little longer and spend a little more time enjoying the things that one would miss should things not be so still.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Finish What You Started

I've learned the hard way, that when I am not feeling creative or inspired to work on a project, it is best just to let it sit. So many times I have started something, and then gotten distracted or even lost the inspiration to finish what I started, only to end up with a big mess on my hands because I tried to force myself to finish it. That's the problem with being creative... sometimes it just comes and goes. And when it goes... it's gone.

I actually started this last year in July... and even then it had been sitting on my desk for a while. I don't know why I started it, or who I had intended to make it for, but I could imagine that having really bad "morning sickness" (that actually lasted all day) was the very reason that I left it in my "finish later" pile. But now that the "baby cookie" is almost here, I found the perfect inspiration to pull it back out and finish it... a sweet little "softie book" for him or her.

I never would have guessed how much time it would actually take me to finish it... all the little button details and applique really added up. I can remember, though that my mom had made me an "activity book" when I was a little girl. It had all kinds of zippers, snaps, buttons, and strings to teach the skills that little hands need to learn.

But all in all, it feels good to have finished one thing that was collecting dust in the "unfinished projects pile". Do you have such a stack too? What do you have on your list to finish that has just been waiting for that little push of inspiration to come along?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

What's in a Name?

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet."

I daresay that there are few that are not familiar with this famous quote from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet... Juliet's effort to address the fact that it is more important what something actually is and not what it is called. The statement of course, holds a profound truth to it, but right now the question has been for us... what IS in a name?

As the time draws closer and closer, the fact still remains that we are not 100% settled on a name for the baby. We have had a boy's first name pretty much since the very beginning, but only just this last week did we find a middle name that we liked... and now "plan B" (or is it "plan G", should it be a girl) is to take "our list" of girl's names that we like to the hospital with us and simply see which name fits. Since we only have three weeks left, needless to say, I am a little frustrated.

Those of you who have had the task of naming a "little one" might be very well acquainted with the pursuit of finding "the perfect name". If my husband and I were having serious disagreements, that would be one thing, but we generally have the same tastes and opinions about names. Our challenge seems to be finding a name that works in Germany, but one that I (and my family) can still pronounce.

As you can see, it is not as if we haven't been looking... these are just a few. Cover to cover, our weekends and evenings have been consumed with what I consider to be one of the most important decisions we have had to make so far... finding "that name" that we will say everyday for the rest of our lives.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Pink or Blue?

It's hard to move to another country and not immediately recognize subtle little differences between the two cultures, that most people living in that country would just consider to be so commonplace that they don't realize it as a difference at all. For instance, I can remember growing up having seen egg cup holders, but I had never actually used one until I moved to Germany. My husband's grandmother is still totally perplexed at how one would eat eggs without one, but I assure her that thousands of homes all over the U.S. do it everyday... maybe because we eat more fried (spiegelei) and scrambled eggs than hard boiled eggs for breakfast.

I also don't think I have ever been to a home in Germany where I did not see a water cooker/boiler. Now that I have one, I could not imagine life without one, but in the "coffee and cake" culture that I now find myself living in, I drink a lot more tea than I ever did. One would also find in many homes in Germany a machine to put the bubbles/soda in water, but every American that I know that comes here and laments "can't I just get a plain glass of water without the bubbles... and with ice?!?"

But one thing that is standard for Germans is that when you visit someone, you take your shoes off when you get there, to keep from tracking dirt and mud in the house. The solution for cold feet is that you take your house shoes or slippers with you. One even does this for baby's and kids, and these sweet leather "Krabbelshuhe" (crawling shoes) were a completely new thing for me... just about EVERY German baby/kid wears these... practical (as are most things here) and comfy.

So now my only question will be... Pink or Blue? Just three more weeks and then we'll know! I thought I would give some of my "crafty colleagues" at Dawanda a little love. Aren't these cute from puschenfabrik in Hamburg?

Monday, February 15, 2010

True Love

As an expecting mother, one is always flooded with a wide mix of emotions. I believe that it was specifically designed that we have 9 months to sort these emotions through and process in our own time the reality and the significance of what is about to happen... anything shorter (even though my tummy is telling me something else) is simply not enough time.

There are some women that seem to have been cre
ated, destined if you will, since the beginning of time to be a mommy... everyone knows at least one of these sweet, patient, selfless, sunshine women who love and adore children, and despite what trouble the kids might cause, always seem to react to in the same consistent, calm manner that reminds one that this woman was just made for this. But for those of us who might have to get used to the idea of becoming a mother, it can sometimes feel like a struggle of completely giving up ones self and making it about baby instead... coming to terms with the fact that it is not about "me" anymore, that I cannot be selfish and do what I want when I want, like I have for the past however many years. Sometimes this tug of war of the heart can seem like a real battle.

Several years ago, I heard someone s
hare the sweetest story that I was reminded of recently. It in many ways comes right to the point of my emotions... so I thought I would share.

Jenny's Necklace

Jenny was a bright-eyed, pretty five-year-old girl.

One day when she and her mother were checking out at the grocery store, Jenny saw a plastic pearl necklace priced at $2.50.

How she wanted that necklace, and when she asked her mother if she would buy it for her, her mother said, "Well, it is a pretty necklace, but it costs an awful lot of money. I'll tell you what. I'll buy you the necklace, and when we get home we can make up a list of chores that you can do to pay for the necklace. And don't forget that for your birthday Grandma just might give you a whole dollar bill, too. "Okay?"

Jenny agreed, and her mother bought the pearl necklace for her.

Jenny worked on her chores very hard every day, and sure enough, her grandma gave her a brand new dollar bill for her birthday.

Soon Jenny had paid off the pearls.

How Jenny loved those pearls. She wore them everywhere-to kindergarten, bed and when she went out with her mother to run errands.

The only time she didn't wear them was in the shower. Her mother had told her that they would turn her neck green!

Now Jenny had a very loving daddy. When Jenny went to bed, he would get up from his favorite chair every night and read Jenny her favorite story. One night when he finished the story, he said, "Jenny, do you love me?"

"Oh yes, Daddy, you know I love you," the little girl said.

"Well, then, give me your pearls."

"Oh! Daddy, not my pearls!" Jenny said. "But you can have Rosie, my favorite doll. Remember her? You gave her to me last year for my birthday. And you can have her tea party outfit, too. Okay?"

"Oh no, darling, that's okay." Her father brushed her cheek with a kiss. "Goodnight, little one."

A week later, her father once again asked Jenny after her story, "Do you love me?"

"Oh yes, Daddy, you know I love you."

"Well, then, give me your pearls."

"Oh, Daddy, not my pearls! But you can have Ribbons, my toy horse. Do you remember her? She's my favorite. Her hair is so soft, and you can play with it and braid it and everything. You can have Ribbons if you want her, Daddy," the little girl said to her father.

"No, that's okay," her father said and brushed her cheek again with a kiss. "God bless you, little one. Sweet dreams."

Several days later, when Jenny's father came in to read her a story, Jenny was sitting on her bed and her lip was trembling. "Here, Daddy," she said, and held out her hand. She opened it and her beloved pearl necklace was inside. She let it slip into her father's hand.

With one hand her father held the plastic pearls and with the other he pulled out of his pocket a blue velvet box.

Inside of the box were real, genuine, beautiful pearls. He had had them all along. He was waiting for Jenny to give up the cheap stuff so he could give her the real thing.

So it is with our Heavenly Father. He is waiting for us to give up the cheap things in our lives so he can give us beautiful treasure.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

More Than Ever

A friend recently told my husband that when she became a mother that she had so much love for this new "little one" that it made her feel as if she had never loved before... wow, what a staggering thought that there will be more love in my heart than I have ever felt before.

Happy "early" Valentine's Day, baby... our hearts are ready.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Still Distracted

So we have just about four weeks until baby is here... diaper bag can wait, right? From the "professional procrastinator", just another quick little distraction...

Last spring when we flew home I discovered in the "international magazine" section (well
, that's international flying from this direction) a wonderful publication by the folks at Quilting Arts, a magazine called "Stitch"... and I couldn't be more in love. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this from cover to cover and this one definitely gets added to my "keepers" stack of magazines. There were great articles and fantastic project ideas to really spark one's imagination... and keep one very distracted from other things.

... Here is my version of a quick little brooch idea that I discovered that I made using Amy Butler fabric. Doesn't this look cute pinned onto a sweet summer straw handbag?

Oh, me, oh, my... will I ever finish my diaper bag?

Monday, February 8, 2010


As the sun crept into my office last week, I have to say that my heart was filled with a small hope that the endless barrage of snow and ice that we have been experiencing would soon have it's end. I have to admit that for the three years that I have lived in Northern Germany, I have been inwardly annoyed when it would start to snow, only to stop 30 minutes later or melt as soon as it hit the ground. It was reminiscing about feet high snow from my beloved West Virginia mountains that sparked the childlike excitement in me, only to be disappointed that it had left as soon as it had come. But like anything, too much of a good thing is, well,... just too much. We had snow almost the whole time while we were in to visit my parents, only to return to a snow-covered Germany which has never gotten warm enough to melt what is already here, but just seems to keep adding to the white blanket that covers the ground.

Last year I picked up this sweet little print by one of my favorite Worpswede artists, Heinrich Vogeler, when we visited the well known artist community not far from my husband's hometown. I can really feel the struggle of the delicate little crocuses fighting their way to the surface to announce that spring will soon be here... inwardly one knows that the snow cannot last forever and is ever hopeful of the new life that will soon burst forth.

... in some way it is almost my little reminder of what is to come.
As the months turn into weeks, and the weeks turn into days, I am hopefully anticipating the arrival of our "new life". I am so delighted that our baby will be a "spring baby". For me, springtime is one of the best seasons of the year... a season of new life, hope, and anticipation.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Drumroll, please...

It really is true what they say... "it's the thought that counts". I have thoroughly enjoyed reading everyone's comments this week about all the well thought out and heartfelt gifts that have come your way, but I suppose you don't want to hear too many more ramblings of how many smiles have come to my face reading your comments so....

"Es sind die Gedanken, die zählen". An dieses alte Sprichwort wurde ich in der vergangenen Woche häufig erinnert. Es hat mir sehr viel Freude b
ereitet, die vielen Kommentare über rührende und gedankenvolle Geschenke zu lesen, die Ihr hier in den letzten Tagen hinterlassen habt. Und übrigens an meine deutschen Leser... bitte macht weiter so und schreibt Eure Kommentare in Deutsch, ich liebe es! Selber auf Deutsch zu schreiben ist doch noch ein bisschen zu schwer für mich und ich kann meinen Mann auch nicht dazu bringen, andauernd alle meine Sachen zu korrigieren. Aber ich kann auf jeden Fall schon so gut Deutsch, dass ich (sogar ohne seine Hilfe!) alle Eure Kommentare verstehen kann. Und außerdem fordert Ihr mich so heraus, mehr Deutsch zu lesen... Aber genug des Redens - lasst uns zum Punkt kommen...

Congratulations Jane & Daniela!... and thanks to everyone who kept me entertained with your lovely words.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Humph, two, three, four...

Think back for a moment with me to the days that you were in school... what kind of student were you? When the teacher had given an assignment, did you rush home immediately after school to complete it as quickly as possible so you could have the rest of your evening free? Or were you the type that would come home, get distracted by this or that, putter around, find every excuse in the world to start your assignment later, only to be driven by the pressure of completing the assignment at the last minute? I reluctantly admit that I am the latter of the two. For some reason it is that "pressure" that the last-minute procrastinator feels that drives me to do better work. Sometimes I really do try to finish a task ahead of time, but when I know that I have some time before I really, really need to have something done, somehow other things just seem much more appealing to me.

For instance, I posted just recently here about ha
ving picked out the fabrics for our baby diaper bag that I plan to make... with good intentions I have started. Right now I can envision the whole thing in my head... where pockets will go, how I want to layout the fabric, what details I want to add... everything. Perhaps now you should ask me if I have been working on the diaper bag that we will need in six short weeks or less... Maybe this sweet little "friend" for the baby will explain why I have been so easily distracted... I just couldn't resist.

I got a package in the mail this week with Heather Bailey's newest pattern "Effie & Ollie" and oh, is it super cute! I used fabric from Amy Butler's "Love" collection and I have visions of a whole line up of other polka-dotted friends for this little guy...

... can't you just imagine a whole row of them marching and singing a song like this from my husband's favorite movie?....

Don't forget... there is still time to enter the "just-because-I-forgot-my-anniversary" Giveaway. Winners will be announced on Wednesday February 3rd!
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