Thursday, April 30, 2009

"Project Month" For the Garden

What is it about a man in an apron that makes him almost irresistible?

I think it is hardly fair that I should be the one having all the fun for "Project Month", so I thought I would let you have a little peek at one of my husband's recent projects. Even though fabrics and such are not his medium of choice, it still amazes me at the creative things he can come up with.

Last year when my husband had to work at a tractor and farming show for the weekend he came back with quite a surprise. He had fallen victim to the clever marketing strategies of an electric food processor exhibitor, who created the tastiest concoctions to tempt potential buyers... oh, boys and their toys. But I thoroughly enjoyed the kid-like expressions and excitement on his face when he showed me all the "bell's and whistle's" of his new machine... this thing can do everything except take out the trash! I have to admit that I rolled my eyes and was quite skeptical at first, but I have thoroughly come to enjoy fresh berries ice cream, soups, and breads that his "toy" can make.

So of course my curiosity was peeked when my husband offered to wash all the veggies that we had brought home from the market one day... sure, it's one less thing for me. Typical evening... e-mailing, blog hopping, drooling over fabrics and then I hear a noise coming from the kitchen. Since the noise continued, it again peeked my curiosity enough to explore. "What exactly are you doing?!?", I asked quite puzzled... What my brilliant husband was doing was using our "do-it-all" machine to shred up the leftover scraps of the freshly cleaned vegetables we just bought, and blending it with a bio micro organism solution to make a super rich fertilizer for the garden. He then blended it with animal straw bedding to remove the moistness and then it sits in the garage for some time. The really amazing thing is that this is essentially the same principle as sauerkraut or silage that they make for animal feed... totally organic and totally ingenious.

That's just one of the many reasons that I love that man... that and the apron.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

"Corner View" Modes of Transportation

Of course, it goes without saying that there are cars in Germany, some of the best, in fact... Mercedes, BMW, Audi, Volkswagen, just to name a few. The autobahns are world famous and provide a nice adrenaline rush for the race car driver at heart who is allowed to drive at record speeds, but one is not limited by cars only to get from point A to point B here...

... And since Germany is very traditional in many ways, why not get to where you are going the old fashioned way... Walk.

Of course people walk... isn't that everywhere? But I find is that it is more a part of the general culture here than in the U.S. People walk to work, to the store, to the bakery... walking has a purpose other than just exercise. When the weather is nice the streets are literally packed with people out to get some fresh air, enjoy family time together, or just move after having eaten a large Sunday morning brunch. In fact, I found this to be one of the most stressful things when I first started driving in Germany is that I always have to be on the look-out for pedestrians... on every corner.

At every shopping center, bank, grocery store, home improvement store, and even at Ikea, you will always find parking sections lined with bikes. I love it to see a 3-year old riding their miniature version of a bike with Mama close on their tail, only to be followed by an 80-year old grandma just coming from the grocery store.

Within the cities, and often in the country, one can find a bus station on just about every corner. What I hate admit with some sense of shame, is that many times public transportation in the States is for those who cannot afford a car... for those who are a little less well off, to put it delicately. But public transportation here is not limited to race or financial status, in fact it is completely common place and for people-watchers like myself, it is interesting to see the variety of people on a bus.

How many times have I expressed my love for old architecture... again and again have I exclaimed my sense of wonderment and awe for buildings that are older than I can imagine. What is always a treat for me is that some of the most fantastic buildings out there are used for subway and train stations. Can one really tire of such masterpieces?

...curious about other methods of transportation around the globe? Visit Jane at Spain Daily for a "Corner View" and a world travel adventure.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Because She Aksed So Nicely...

The lovely and talented Kay, at Kaylovesvintage, shared several pieces from her favorite vintage pastel pottery collection... and what a treasury she has! This avid and knowledgeable ceramics collector is quite curious to learn more about ceramics in other parts of the world. Many of the vintage pieces that I own are firstly not pastel and secondly not from the U.S. So, Kay, as you may have already noticed from the rest of my blog... this is as pastel as I can do.

However, I especially wanted to share this because it is very recognizable in the U.S., very collectible, and made in my home state. Fiestaware was somewhat of a new concept when it was first introduced in 1936, and the bright colored mix-and-match concept was a welcome change to the Victorian inspired china that was produced at the time. Despite World War II, and drastic reductions in production, the West Virgina based company boasted strong sales and became a status symbol for the 1930's & 40's middle class. The colors changed over the years with some of the original colors in red, blue, light green, yellow, ivory, and light turquoise, to offering more pastel colors such as rose, gray, and chartreuse. The yellow glaze is the only color that was produced throughout the rise and fall, and rise again of Fiestaware's popularity.

For your fine-tuned eye, Kay, you may have noticed that this piece is not vintage, and is a reproduction of a vintage piece, but I just could not resist sharing... since you asked.

Monday, April 27, 2009

"Project Month" Table Fun

In our new house the rooms are laid out so that our living room and dining room are combined, and since the two rooms are now combined, I am finding that many of my table linens that I have just do not look as nice as when the two rooms were separate. My favorite painting from my dad connects the two rooms, and I wanted to pick colors that made the two rooms flow, and what better way to do that than with Anna Maria Horner fabrics.

Again, a quick and easy project to spruce up a room. I simply cut strips of coordinating fabric, stitched them together, added some decorative stitching, and used a light weight iron on interfacing on the front side of the place mat and the backside. I then placed right sides together, stitched leaving and opening, turned them, and did a quick finishing stitch to close the opening... and there you have it. A project that is fresh, fun, easy, and full of color.

Friday, April 24, 2009

"Project Month" Fabric Box and...

This is a terrific and easy project that I found on Pink Pinguin, which is perfect for using fabric scraps or "fat quarters". I altered the pattern a bit and made it larger, left off the handles, and used a heavy weight interfacing instead of fleece batting. What a fun and colorful way to bring order to whatever collections you might have. I used fabrics from Heather Bailey's Pop Garden and Bijoux collections found here.

Oh, the possibilities are endless....

...and endless...

Congratulations Diana, winner of the April Giveaway! I really appreciated and enjoyed everyone's comments and loved that the "green" stories were personal and reflective of sweet memories... thanks for the glimpse. Natürlich freue ich mich über weitere Kommentare auf Deutsch... es ist eine Herausforderung, aber auch eine gute Übung für mich.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Did you miss the post for the blog giveaway/gewinnspiel? One day left...the winner will be announced tommorrow Friday, April 24th.

Blog Gewinnspiel vergessen?!? Es ist noch ein tag zeit... der Gewinner wird morgen, am 24. April bekannt gegeben.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Frühstück/What's for Breakfast?

Each day I realize just how small our world is. Somehow it is not as vast as I once thought, that we are more interconnected than we know. Jane at Spain Daily, who writes about what her daily life is like in another country, recently started with several other bloggers sharing what it is like in their part of the world. This week's theme is breakfast...

So how could I talk about breakfast in Germany without first starting the sentence with "bread"? Of course Germans love their beer. They love their potatoes. They love their butter. But most of all Germans love their bread. I do have to admit that our light, flat, unhealthy, tasteless toast cannot even begin to be compared to the fresh, yummy, chewy, perfectly crusted bread that lines the shelves in every corner bakery.

One phenomenon I think I will never understand of German breakfast "must haves" is... Nutella. What perplexes me the most is that many Germans find your typical American cake with sugary sweet icing to be rather disgusting, but have no problems with loading their favorite bread for breakfast with this super sweet, chocolate and hazelnut sugar bomb. Tasty it is, but please not on my bread.

For many Germans, lunch is usually the warm meal of the day, and most evenings are a simple, light meal of sandwiches with the addition of carrots, cucumbers, or tomatoes. But what I find to be very unusual is that practically the same thing that is put out for dinner is the same thing that was put out for breakfast... salamis, prosciutto hams, and cheeses, etc. This took some getting used to because I would have never imagined pulling out the sandwich toppings at least until lunch time.

It is much more common to use nice china and dishes at your average morning breakfast than the quick eat-it-on-the-run, I'll-take-it-in-my-styrofoam-cup American style. My husband's aunt made this teapot and matching Stövchen (teapot warmer), which I had never owned, or needed, until I moved here.

A Northern German favorite of my husband's is sugar beet syrup. This molasses tasting spread is an alternative to maple syrup. He could also be very partial to it because of the fact that my husband's family also grows sugar beets. Eggs in egg holders are also a treat for me, and I can't really recall having ever eaten them this way before. My German family asks me, "well, then how do you eat your eggs?"... peeled, I guess. Usually scrambled or fried eggs beat out hard boiled eggs for breakfast.

Even though my husband is the native German in the family, it is me who does not drink coffee. Somehow it never sunk into my head that our country had boycotted tea all those years ago. So my coffee-loving husband, who I sometimes doubt just how German he really is, usually gives his Sunday morning breakfast a little American twist... and what says American breakfast like Starbuck's?

When I stop and think about it, and compare the Amercian breakfast table with the German breakfast table, it is quite easy to pick out the similarities. The differences are actually not that drastic or extreme, but I think it takes the eye of someone who is not a native to distinguish the subtleties that lie just below the surface.

Visit Jane's blog for the rest of the "breakfast" world tour...

Monday, April 20, 2009

"Project Month" Fabric Covered Box

We are in the process of organizing my office and in addition to all my personal sewing fabrics, books, buttons, hardware, other supplies, not to mention entire bolts of fabric, I have a shelf where I store my packing enevelopes for my online orders. I just have not been satisfied with this practical, but very plain, plastic box that I store them in. I orginally got the idea for fabric covered boxes from the blog of Laura Gunn (this is Heather Bailey's sister-in-law) and have altered it a bit to fit my project.

1. Measure the size of the box that you want to cover and add 1/4 inch (ca. 1/2cm) to the sides of the fabric as well as the top and bottom to allow for the seams.

2. Cut four rectangles of your main fabric as well as four rectangles in a plain cotton muslin. You can use a coordinating fabric if you would like, but for my project I decided on something plain since it will not be seen. In addition, cut a large rectangle the length and width of your other rectangles. Ex. My rectangels measure 6 1/2 in. high x 12 1/2 in. long (17cm x 32cm) for the short side of the box, and 6 1/2in. high x 15 1/2 in. long (17cm x 39cm) for the long side of the box. So my large rectangle is 12 1/2 in. wide x 15 1/2 in. long. (32cm x 39 cm) Fabric is from Jane Sassaman's Prairie Gothic line found here.

3. Sew the four rectangles of the main fabric together to create one long band and iron seams. (long, short, long, short in the case of a rectangle box) Repeat this step with the muslin or coordinating fabric also ironing the seams.

4. Placing right sides together, match the seams of the main fabric band with the seams of the muslin fabric band, pin together, sew, and iron seams.

5. Match side seams, placing right sides together, and sew together to create a tube.

6. Pin the large rectangle to the bottom of the tube matching the seams with the corners of the rectangle. Sew into place.

7. Turn fabric under ca. 1/4in and run a zig-zag stich to finish the hem.

8. Place into position in your box or crate and you're done.
You may want to tack the fabric into place and can also use pretty buttons as a nice accect if desired.

Friday, April 17, 2009

April Giveaway/Gewinnspiel

Sometimes I feel as obvious as and open book. I'm sure that with just a few scrolls of the mouse one can easily identify my favorite color... green! It's not intentional, it just seems to be the color that I naturally gravitate towards, sometimes almost without thinking. I think of things like spring, trees, freshness, flourishing, and new life.

Manchmal kommt es mir vor, daß ich so offensichtlich bin, wie ein offenes Buch. Mit ein paar Mausklicks auf dieser Seite kann jeder sicherlich sofort meine Lieblingsfarbe identifizieren - grün! Es ist mir eigentlich noch nicht einmal bewußt, aber es scheint so, als ob dies die Farbe ist, zu der ich mich natürlicherweise hingezogen fühle. Wenn ich an grün denke, denke ich an Dinge wie Frühling, Bäume, Frische, Blühen und neues Leben.

So I decided to continue my green theme with these sweet spring green lampwork glass, antique brass, and filigree earrings for the April giveaway prize. Again just a simple question to win... tell me about your spring time activities, memories, gardening activities, or whatever else you might associate with the color green. The winner will be announced next Friday, April 24th. Ach ja, und ich freue mich natulich auch auf Deutsche Kommentare!

Und daher habe ich mich entschlossen, mein grünes Thema mit diesen süßen frühlingsgrünen Lampwork-Glas, Messing Antik, Filigran Ohrringen als Preis für das April Gewinnspiel fortzuführen. Wie immer ist es eine ganz einfache Preisfrage: Schreibt mir von Euren Frühlingsaktivitäten, Frühlingserinnerungen, Gartenprojekten oder was auch immer Ihr mit der Farbe grün assoziiert. Der Gewinner wird am kommenden Freitag, den 24. April verkündet werden. Ich freue mich auf Eure - deutschen oder englischen - Kommentare!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

On the Bandwagon

I'm really not a "bandwagon jumper"... honest, I'm not. In case you are not familiar with the phrase of someone "jumping on the bandwagon", basically it just means someone who does what everyone else is doing, wearing the latest trends because everyone else is wearing it, compromising individuality to make yourself fit in. In fact, I can remember when Tommy Hilfiger was all the rage and I really liked his jeans, but did not purchase them because I could not figure out how to cut off the monster red, white, and blue flag without damaging the jeans. But I guess now I might have slipped a little... well, really it was my husband's fault. (oh, how I love that man!)

Kaylovesvintage is a fabulous blog that features her fantastic collection of vintage and antique finds, and it was there in one of her blog posts that I fell in love. After admiring (no, I really mean drooling over) these darling elephants, I decided to check out Ebay to see just how expensive these little guys were. I love antiques, vintage finds, and collectibles, but I neither have the knowledge or the wallet to support this passion. I found a few for sale, put them in the "watch this item" section, and forgot about it.

So as it turns out, I am not the only one who is drooling over Ebay finds these days. My husband, who has been searching for a garden shredder and shares the same Ebay account, asked me last week quite puzzled... "did you mark these elephants to watch them?".... "Yeah, I did", my response "oh, and by the way, (half joking) you can buy me one." And that was that.

Wouldn't you know it... a few days later, I too had this precious little friend. So Kay, the only way that I can defend my weak moment of bandwagon jumping is to say that imitation truly is the sincerest form of flattery.

Monday, April 13, 2009

"Project Month" Sewing... No Thanks!

I wanted to share a project that is for all you fabric lovers out there who hate to sew. This really is a great project because it is quick, easy, and can really add a little "extra" touch. I recently picked up a shadow-box picture frame from IKEA, but thought it looked a little boring. If you live in Gemany, then you have probably been to IKEA. I would say that Ikea is to Germany, as Wal-Mart is to the U.S.... if you live there, you go.

So I simply removed the mat, and cut a square of fabric slightly larger than the mat. The fabric allowance on each side was about 1 inch or 2,5 centimenters. For this project I used fabric from Heather Bailey's Bijoux collection found here.

I cut a square on the inside of the fabric, making an angled notch in each corner towards the mat and additionally cut the four corners at an angle.

I then sprayed the mat lightly on both sides with a spray glue adhesive. I carefully centered the mat on the cut fabric.

I pulled the fabric tight over the edges and smoothed out the fabric. Starting with the inside edges and then with the outside edges.

Lastly (not shown) I cut a second smaller mat and glued to the back for a finished look. And there you have it... no sewing, no all day project, and I couldn't be more satisfied with the results.

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