Monday, August 31, 2009

Good 'ol Red, White, and Blue

It doesn't take long, living in another country, to realize that " You can take the girl out of America, but you just can't take the American out of the girl."

Sunday we attended a pot-luck dinner. For those not familiar with the term, this just means that everyone brings a dish, with no particular menu planned... they really are the best. In preparation for what I was bringing, I flipped through my cookbooks trying to find what would be the perfect, easy to transport, outside picnic snack. When I proudly finish
ed my dish, and stood back to admire my handiwork, I thought... wow, does that ever look American!

But the thing is that I bought everything at a normal German grocery store, and with the exception of the tortilla shells found in the international section, all pretty regular foods... but how they were combined sends out a red beacon to the locals that this is not the usual German party dish... just subtly different.

Two years ago we had a birthday party and invited a bunch of our friends. One of our friends, who had lived the States for a few years, came rushing into the dining room quickly scanning the buffet table. I thought he just must have been really hungry, but later realized that he had been scanning the table to see if the ever popular American party platter of veggies and dip were present. "Yep, he exclaimed triumphantly, I knew it would be here!" What!?! Don't Germans eat veggies too? Yeah, but not usually in this way. Even when I go grocery shopping, my mother-in-law notices that the items in my shopping cart look different than the items in hers. Hmmmm... filled with things like bacon and eggs, cheddar cheese, taco ingredients, green asparagus, and everything else except for sandwich stuff.

Want to make Confetti Tortilla Spirals too?

Just mix 8 oz. of cream cheese (they have real Philadelphia cream cheese here and I couldn't be happier!) with 2 Tablespoons of Dijon mustard. Add 1/4 cup of finely shredded zucchini, 1/4 cup of finely shredded carrots, and 3 chopped green onions. Mix well and evenly divide mixture onto 6 flour tortilla shells, spreading over the bottom 3/4 of the shell. Top with spinach leaves, roasted red peppers, and deli meat of your choice (I used ham, turkey, and cheddar cheese thinly sliced). Roll them up and use a serrated knife to cut them into 1 inch pieces. And there you have it... colorful, yummy, and very American... Mmmmm, enjoy!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Too Early For Christmas

Now I've heard of Christmas in July before, but Christmas in August?... you have to trust me on this one, it's just as much fun in August as it is in July. I got a big package from my favorite bead place this week with some of my favorite stones and lots of new colors. Which leaves me feeling...

to sew or to bead? Hmmm... that is the question. Have you ever had so many projects on the table, so many ideas in your head, that you just didn't know where to start? Oh, the problems of being creative... sigh. Too many projects, not enough time.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Cute as a Button

Last week, I talked my husband into venturing downtown with me. (to be perfectly honest, it was to check out my competition) Much to my disappointment the shop was closed because of the school/summer holidays, so we spent our time strolling up and down the streets, window shopping and popping into other inviting stores. One particular shop that caught my attention was filled with jewelry, purses, and accessories, all in such a lovely vintage style. See the thing is, I have an addiction... to buttons, especially when they are vintage. I love how unique and unusual they are...

It really is sometimes quite interesting... often I might buy a button, a ribbon, or an accent piece, having no particular project in mind, and a year or two later creating something that it seems like that button was custom made for... it really makes collecting so fun!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Flower Power

I've been having a lot of fun these days with Anna Maria Horner's Garden Party fabrics... I love the unusual color combinations and interesting designs. Still on a roll for show preparations, I decided that in addition to zippered pouches that I would add a few brooches to the mix. I was originally inspired by Betz White, and I added a few extra touches and beading to make it my own. What a fun little addition to a blazer, purse, or hat... don't you think?

For other cool tutorials, check out Betz's blog. Happy creating!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A Brand New Look

I just love a good makeover... don't you?

When I started my blog last November, I had no idea w
hat I was getting myself into. It didn't take long to realize after jumping into the whole blogging world and discovering one fantastic blog after another, that my sorry, self-made attempt of a header just didn't cut it... so this time I left it to someone who knew what they were doing... what do you think?

... Speaking of new looks, have you seen the new rugs by Amy Butler, a.k.a "queen of everything creative". They are so dreamy, it makes you want to curl up a take a long nap on them... so divine! One could literally put these rugs in a room and nothing else, and still pull off chic.

I seem to have been on a blue and green kick these days and just can't seem to get enough. Do you find yourself gravitating towards certain color combinations too?

Friday, August 14, 2009

... On A Roll

It seems as if it has been one thing or another that has kept me out of my sewing room these days... but now I'm back on a roll. I have a small, one day show that I am doing in September, and I am finding that I am needing some smaller items for my stand. I have seen a lot of people making these sweet little zipper pouches and I thought that would be perfect extra "little" something to fill things in.

Let me just say, had I known how easy these things are, I would have been sewing them a long time ago. The perfect "Mitbringsel" (small take it with you present) that has so many uses, the possibilities are endless. I simply "Google-d"... "How to sew a zippered pouch" and found so many results, it was just a matter of which tutorial I liked best. This one and this one are my favorites.

I used some leftover scraps that I had from Anna Maria Horner's Garden Party collection (can be found here) and added a leather cord with matching beads on the zipper for some extra pizazz.

I have to say that this falls into the "favorite sewing project" category... quick, easy, and fun.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Final Destination... Dresden

On our return trip from Herrenhut, the beautiful and historical city of Dresden was directly on the way, and a perfect diversion for a Sunday afternoon sightseeing stop. The city has long been known as the capital and residence for the Kings of Saxony, thus they provided the city with much of the architectural, artistic, and cultural sites that have attracted tourists for centuries. The city borders the River Elbe and boasts of fantastic and ornate architecture that define European cities. Many efforts have been made to restore the beauty and splendor of a city that was essentially destroyed after the war.

The city square was filled with tourists and those out to enjoy a beautiful Sunday afternoon in the city overlooking the waterfront. With the historic city as a backdrop, a group of musicians played the most beautiful movement of music that I have heard on the streets.... we were thoroughly amazed and delighted.

Riding trough the city square was a group of men on a multi-person bike, carrying afternoon beverages with them... what I would consider a real "party-on-wheels". One of them stopped to ask me if I was photographing them because of their bike, or because of their hats... hmmm.

One of the most well-known and main attractions of the city is the Frauenkirche (Our Lady's Church), which was totally burned and destroyed during the war. After 13 years of reconstruction, the church was completed in 2004. Many of the original stones were recovered and used in rebuilding, which one can notice the darker stones that have been colored because of fire damage and age.

Just outside the church, girls dressed in long, white dresses circled the church, giving out information and selling cards which were used for funding additional restorations. It seemed to complete the scene to see their full skirts swishing back and forth from side to side as they casually strolled around the building, sometimes stopping to catch up with acquaintances.

Despite all the efforts that have been made to restore the city, I often feel a great sadness for those have have lost such a place... for I can truly imagine the greatness of what once was.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Hidden Gems

While dining at one of the two restaurants in Herrenhut, our neighbor table had overheard my husband talking and immediately recognized his Northern German accent as coming from the same area that they were from. After chatting for a while, the friendly couple went on to tell us that they had visited a cute little village just a few miles from where we were, and highly recommended that we work the 15 minute diversion into our trip somehow. The patterned slate siding and wooden arches is definitely not typical architecture for Northern Germany, and it was great to see that all the houses were so well kept... everyone seemed to have beautiful gardens and well groomed yards.

I love exploring and discovering "hidden gems", places that speak for themselves, and quaint little villages with so much personality.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Destination... Herrnhut

One of the places that my parents wanted to visit while they were here was a small village in Eastern Germany near the Czech border. This is where the Moravian church was founded, or Brethren Church, and many religious movements in the United States can be traced to the influence of one the founders, Count von Zinzendorf.

The church was beautiful, but not in the traditional sense of what one would expect from an old, European church ornately decorated with religious symbols and figures. It was white and simple without extravagant details... it just felt so pure.

We traveled to the next village where the estate of Zinzendorf had stood proudly years ago. Much of the estate was in ruins, but you could image the greatness of what it had been of it before the ugly finger of Communism had turned much of it into gray dust. A group from the church community had started efforts to restore the run down estate home.

Behind the village one could walk up the "Hill of Watching" to an observation tower that overlooked the city, and the view was fantastic. Despite the fog that had settled over the day, it was so peaceful and I imagine many would climb the tower steps to escape to a place of solitude and quiet.

Just down the hill from the tower, were the graves of many of the founding members of the Brethren church. In keeping with the simplicity of the church, the grave stones were also uniform and basic without ornate details, except for the Count and his family. For some reason, I did not feel an anxious need to go like I sometimes have at other graveyards. It was as if the peaceful atmosphere that you felt in the church also rested over the whole town.

Herrnhut is a small village and does not boast of fantastic, candy-for-the-eyes buildings and architecture, but sometimes it is the simple things, like an afternoon stroll soaking in the beauty of nature in a reflective mood that is more memorable than anything that man can create.

Thursday, August 6, 2009


I've been meaning to share for quite some time a few of the places that we visited while my parents were here for three and a half weeks. My husbands family just celebrated 10 years of owning a farm in former East Germany, and we wanted to show my parents this part of our lives too. While we were there, we traveled just a few short miles to a neighboring village where a former East German border museum was set up.

The boundary between former East and West in this part of Germany was seperated only by a river, where the small villiage bordered the water. A tribute to those that had lost their lived trying to cross the water was on the entry door of the museum and I feel as if words are missing to decribe the emotions of the impact of this as reality.

Later we traveled to the hunting district that my parents in law have been renting for the past 15 years. Leftover pieces of mines and scraps from the fence still remained and were like silent witnesses of the past... a deep quiet was felt as we walked the former border of what once was. There are just sometimes that words are simply not necessary.

When most Germans talk about the ugly past that has attached itself to this country, one can almost hear a certain sadness come through. This is a past that has unfortunately overshadowed and given many, who were completely unaware of the horrors that were happening, a sense of shame to carry... even for the generations that have come after them.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Whatcha' Been Up To?

I would venture a guess and say that it has probably been pretty obvious that my sewing machine has not been doing much else than collecting dust these days. With us being gone in May, my parents visiting us the month of June, new fabric shipments and computer work in July, I have not had too much time work up some of the delicious, new fabrics that I have gotten in. But it seems that jewelry making has been on the brain, which is not a bad thing since we have a small show coming up in September... and it will be mostly jewelry on display.

So here are just a couple pieces that I have been working on. Although it was not love at first sight, I am finding that Aventurine is becoming one of my favorite stones to work with. I love the soft, muted gray-green color of this natural stone.

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