Saturday, January 31, 2009

Open Arms

What is it about a favorite chair? Sometimes one would almost think that they can speak, always saying the same thing... "come on over... just for a few minutes". I have one of those chairs.

The interesting thing is that she is red. The reason that this is so interesting is that red has never made it to my favorite color list. It has always been beaten out by greens, purples, pinks, yellows, and oranges, but never deep rich hues of crimson. In fact, red seems to be the color that gets left out of my garden, but I cannot really say why.

Several years ago I discovered my favorite chair at a local thrift store. (oh how I miss my second hand stores) She was of course clothed in a shabby, fade into the background attire similar to that of all the other unwanted furniture. But I knew what she could be and immediately envisioned her draped in a sumptuous velvet that I had picked out years before we met.

What someone else once considered to be old, dirty, and ugly has become the beloved and comfortable focal point of our living room. A beautiful antique chainstich embroidered throw now decorates my vintage find. I like to snuggle in her in the mornings when I sip the last part of my breakfast tea starting the day in a quiet, slow and reflective mood, and my husband often ends his day in her warmth with a glass of red wine to accompany his evening read... she is always beckoning with open arms.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

It's The Little Things That Count...

I cannot really tell you who it was that first said that, but it is so true. Since I have not felt very creative or inspired these days, I decided to work on some of those "little" things that I usually put off because to stop and do them when on is on a creative roll is just too burdensome.

When I have a jewelry sale, I like to add just a little extra touch to make the customer really feel like they have gotten something special... and they have. In our industrial and consumer driven world, the appreciation of the crafter has long been forgotten. So why not bring it back?

Today's project was working on "Thank You" tags. Last Christmas my parents got me this great little machine from Cuttlebug, which is a dye-cutter and embossing machine. Needless to say... it's amazing!

Add a small strip of Anna Maria fabric, a quick little stitch, and finish it off with a spring green organza bag, and there you have it! This is a pair of earrings that gets shipped tomorrow and I hope that my "extra" says that handmade is the way to go.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Shades of Gray

One of the captivating charms that Germany holds for me is the fact that just about everything is old. Practically every building and structure, crooked cobble stone road, garden and graveyard, all whisper stories of the days of old, that despite the years, are somehow not quite completely forgotten.
Almost ten years ago, after the Berlin Wall had come down, my husband's family had the opportunity to purchase one of the estate farms just inside the former DDR East German border. It is a beautiful property and the past years have been spent farming and renovating the former socialistic model dairy farm that was well known in the area.

As with the majority of the estates in former East Germany, dull shades of gray and poorly maintained grounds hide the former glory that was once obvious. Sometimes I feel a certain sadness that what was once so beautiful and glorious, has been stripped of its past splendor.

An afternoon walk carries one past quaint shingled roofs that have been enhanced by the presence of soft, spring green moss.

Churches were often neglected because material was not available for an institution that was thought to be an opponent to socialism. Many churches were repaired with the leftovers that the people could salvage resulting in many patch work and poor quality repairs. Such shabby restorations almost seem to pridefully display themselves as if they were battle scars from a long and fierce crusade that was fought, but not lost.

Many memorials and stone figures still remain from centuries old cemeteries that decorate church courtyards. Oh, if they could only speak... the stories they would tell. Despite all that they have seen and heard, I imagine that not all the tales would be told in shades of gray.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Frosty Season Musings

Having missed the coldest week of the whole year because we were on vacation, I am delighted to see that winter has indulged us with a little bit of snow today. What could be more fun than to bundle up tight and explore this winter wonderland, reminiscing about the once beautiful garden that is now in a state of deep slumber and hibernation.

To my surprise, my eucalyptus has managed to withstand the frosty season not wanting to yield itself to the status of an annual plant. In warmer climates this elegant silvery plant grows into trees large enough to provide food and shelter for the tropical wildlife, but usually cannot endure frigid temperatures to last from one season to the next.

Pretty blossoms concealed themselves in the white, shimmery covering, anticipating their chance to announce to the world that spring will soon be here.

Fragrant rosemary sprigs, seem to be somewhat oblivious to the white blanket that has covered them, determining to stay just a green as though the season had never changed.

And it seems as though snow almost always brings out wildlife, scouring and scavenging for food. Our friends have decided to "weather the storm" with us, much to my delight.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

And Now My Favorite Stone...

...may I have a drum roll please? And now for my favorite of all favorite gemstones to work with, the ever stunning and ever beautiful... Fuchsite Ruby! This is one of the very first gemstones that I started working with and I have to say that my heart has been true ever since. There is nothing like a first love.

This gorgeous little stone has small irregular rubies embedded in the lovely variegated emerald hued fuchsite matrix, in which white quartz is also often present. Breathtaking!

The gemstone typically comes from Brazil and is said to connect one with nature. Next to a diamond, rubies are considered the hardest minerals on earth.

All jewelry pieces can be found here.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Favorite Stones... Sugilite Jasper

This incredible stone is a natural jasper that has been color enhanced to imitate the rare and often expensive Sugilite. The variations in the stone allow the color to absorb differently which result in a wide rage of hues from a deep eggplant purple, a rich fuchsia, to a soft periwinkle.

The color variations can be so drastic that one can hardly believe that these two are the same stone. But the uniqueness of each stone is why I work with natural gemstones in the first place.

Jewelry pieces can be found here SOON!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Favortie Stones... Fossil Coral

I have only added this fabulous stone to my beading collection just recently and I have truly fallen in love with the natural stone. Fossil Coral comes from fossilized ancient coral reefs and can be found in just about any ocean that holds the spectacular wonders of an ancient ocean.

What I enjoy most about natural stones is that each one is truly unique and no two are alike. The amount of iron and other minerals found in the ocean determines the color which ranges from a lovely cream color, that goes with everything, to a rich burnt orange color.

All jewelry pieces can be found here.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Favorite Stones... Aventurine

So far I have talked very little about my jewelry, but have decided that I would very much like to remedy that with the next few posts called "Favorite Stones" where I feature a few of my favorite gemstones that I like to work with.
I have been working with Aventurine for a while now and I love the unusual shades of green that the stone has to offer, ranging from a light translucent sage to a deeper soft forest color. Aventurine is a type of quartz and even though the most common color is green, it may also come in various shades of orange, yellow, and browns.

Despite the fact that the stone is usually found in India, it's name comes from the Italian word "a ventrua" which means "by chance". Such a lovely stone to discover just by chance.

All jewelry pieces can be found here.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

She who has the most fabrics when she dies...WINS

I guess I cannot rave and carry on enough about the famous and talented Amy Butler. This is one extremely gifted woman, who has definitely made her mark in the quilting and patchwork world. Her innovative designs with her strong sense of color have set her apart and catapulted her into the trendsetter category among her peers.

I've been carrying fabrics from her "Belle" line for quite a while, but have just added some new fabrics from her "Midwest Modern" collection. I love the fact that her designs are just as strong as with the previous collections, but with softer and more muted colors, it gives this collection a whole new look and feel.

You can find both the "Belle" and "Midwest Modern" collections here or here.

Reminiscing, the Final Draft

As ridiculous as it may sound to many, I would almost have to say that one of the best highlights of our sunshine packed vacation was to eat a big, fat, juicy, almost to large to hold with both hands American burger. It very much reminds me of the song..."you don't know what you got 'til it's gone." There is so much truth to this statement, even if one is just referring to a burger.

I've never really been a highly qualified connoisseur of the almost nutrition less and sometimes tasteless fast food industry, unlike a large population of Americans. But I have been known from time to time to enjoy the occasional chicken nuggets or french fries when my desire not to cook overruled my nutritional ethics.

Despite my desire to eat healthy foods and avoid gut bombs, and obviously since I am an American, I do know what a good burger tastes like. For the last two years I have attempted to sample restaurants in Germany that claim to serve "American cuisine" (can one actually use those two words in the same sentence?) hoping to satisfy that once in a blue moon craving. But to my dismay, I have found myself extremely disappointed at the small, thin, grey, often questionable meat that arrives on my plate trying to disguise itself as something tasty hidden behind a fluffy bun and fresh toppings. So my quest for that mouth watering, tasty American burger in Deutschland has been put to an end. I have decided not to even allow myse
lf to be tempted into the torture of raising my hopes and anticipation only to come crashing down when my appetite just cannot be appeased with anything less than the real thing.

But this past week my Pavlov's dog feeling has finally been satisfied. A mere 30 minute bus ride to the nearest Hard Rock Cafe on the island did the trick. I can remember visiting the HRC when I was in New York City, but it did not leave quite the same impression as it did this time. What better place to give a big hats off to the songwriter for his deep words of wisdom than in the restaurant that served me the best burger this year.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Reminiscing Part III

For me art isn't only something that is on the wall, a three-dimensional sculpture, a pottery piece, or even what makes it to the art gallery or museum. I think that one can always find art even in the most unexpected places, and for me that place is just simply... nature.

I was so inspired and in awe at all the brightly colored blossoms and green life that seem to always be the backdrop of any tropical paradise. Naturally displaying plants and flowers that are not as common in one's back yard or those kept in the shelter of a warm and protected house.

It's not like this is the first time that I have seen tropical plants before, quite the contrary. But where I find art in nature is when you look at the details. My husband makes fun of me for taking only close up shots, but for me that brings out a new dimension of flowers and plants that is often too easy to overlook.

When you study a flower or plant up close you can see the veins in the leaves, spots or stripes on the petals, and wonderful hidden forms and shapes that leave one with that same feeling after having looked at a Monet, Picasso, or whatever artist brings that feeling of "wow", mouth half open and speechless for the first few moments.

I just wanted to share a few of nature's awe-inspiring delights.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Reminiscing Part II

I am always inspired by art, no matter what the form. In our hotel there were two fantastic art mosaic tile walls that I found absolutely fascinating. One was a rendition of the fishing village where we stayed, Puerto de Mogan, crafted by a local artesian.

Clay and ceramic have never been my medium of choice, but I can certainly appreciate when someone can manipulate the element to its fullest. These pieces really need no narrative, so I will let them speak for themselves.... stunning!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Reminiscing Part I

Despite the fact that our vacation did not develop beyond an extremely lazy and uneventful trip, I am still finding it necessary to write several different entries because I am somehow not able to completely cover all the randomness with just one shot. Our trip basically consisted of nothing more than sleeping, eating, and lounging by the pool soaking up as much sun as possible. I ask myself then how could I have so much to write about; however I will not consume too much time or thought with the answer.

I guess since my husband and I have already been to Gran Canaria (the Canary Islands) for our honeymoon, we did not feel the need to explore as we did last time. We know where things are and what the islands have to offer. We did manage to make it back to our favorite restaurant in this quaint little fishing town that we had discovered on our last trip here. The small village is such a nice contrast to the busy, bright, and touristy section of the island where we were just two years ago. It has a slower pace, which is just our style.

I have been to restaurants that can most certainly boast of a more elegant and chic decor, but there is nothing like experiencing the unique character and charm of a local place. The kind of place that is often missed or easily passed over by tourists because of the lack of ambiance, you know, the kind of place that the locals frequent.

It was quite easy to find it again this year because the swirled acrylic blue wicker chairs were our beacons inviting us back to our familiar restaurant nestled in on one of the side streets away from the other holiday travelers. The local favorites found all over the island include the standard Canary potatoes, aioli sauce, shrimp, avocados, and the most important ingredient...garlic. This "mom and pop" owned restaurant serves fish that is caught daily on the family boat. You are then shown your catch before it is prepared, and when it finally arrives it reaffirms the truth of the difference between fresh and frozen. This may be the first time that I have actually had fish melt in my mouth. The only words that one is left with after the meal is..."ahhhhhhh".

There is something truly fantastic about experiencing the authentic. No commercial imitation adapted to fit into a more universal mold that only leaves a faint tint of what it is supposed to be, but the real thing. But I suppose El Capuchino's real charm for me personally lies within combining the real thing with sentimental memories of the most special time in my life...the beginning of a shared life together.

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