Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

hugs and merry wishes
yumminess shared
spicy apple cake savored in the dim candlelight
candles glowing, crackling, and dancing
the story where it all began
songs of rejoicing
smiles and laughter from loved ones millions of miles away brought to us through the wonders of modern technology
the joyful anticipation of discovering new things packed in bright paper
dinner by candlelight with my two favorite "boys"
nice wine in a nice glass
melodic tunes bringing back those special childhood memories
snuggly pajamas
snuggle time with the little guy
snuggle time with the big guy
deep sleep

taking it slow
five star breakfast
lazy day

ahhhh... Christmas!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Something Missing

So have you noticed that something has been missing here these days? Perhaps a little red and green?

I've been following what's going on in "Blogville" these days, pretty Advent calendars, sparkling Christmas decorations, tasty baked treats, and fun and creative projects for the "most wonderful time of the year"... and then I stop and think a
bout my last five posts. Tja, and thinking about it, one would probably never even notice a color or season change.

Putting aside the fact that I have been a rollercoaster ride of being "under the weather" for the last months, there is a part of me inwardly that has said enough is enough. The past several years for me have been a gradual, but significant scaling down. Mind you, I come from the land of explode your credit card until the mountain of debt surpasses the mountain of toys that are given to happy little boys and girls. A place where, despite the fact that working moms are stretched on every side, there is still the pressure to provide the magic... the whole atmosphere, the candles, the presents, the cookies, the perfectly decorated home, the things life-time memories are made of. Each year I evaluate what I am doing that pertains to Christmas and if it actually makes sense. Don't get me wrong... I love to decorate, I love to make things pretty, I love to add that extra added touch, I love it when I find that present that makes that someone special squeal with delight... who doesn't? But I've been asking myself at what "cost" am I doing these things? Am I getting so caught up in the doing, the buying, the running, the wrapping, the decorating, the stress, the self-inflicted expectations that I have of myself that I totally miss it... miss Christmas? Am I overlooking the needy, the hungry, the hurting, just to run in the mad rat race?

But my motto for this season has been... keep it simple. The little guy actually gets only a few things for his second Christmas. Most of the gifts that I am giving are handmade. There will be food dropped off this week at the food bank. And a simple manger will be just about the only decoration that will be put out for the holidays... but isn't that the simple and humble display of love that should take the spotlight of Christmas?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Scrap Love Links

So, I thought I would wrap up my fabric scrap theme with a few "put your scraps to good use" links. If you don't have the patience to sew a million little quilting squares together, perhaps you could find a little inspiration here:

1. Gathered Clutches, are the perfect gift giving idea 2. Whimsical Key Chains from Living with Punks would be great as a gift tag to add an extra something special to simple gift wrapping.

3. Turn those fabric scraps into a decorative accent to perk up any corner in your home with trendy garland. 4. "A little birdie told me"... as found from the inspirational magazine Molly Makes.

5. Paper bags using fabric scraps as a cute closure, just right to fill with special treats for any occasion, from Scissor Variations.

6. From needle cases to zippered bags, notebook covers to scissors cases, covered tape measure to handmade cards, a cup and a catch up will leave you with a whole lotta scrap inspiration.

7. Sweet and fun from the birds and the bees to quirky little critters than one finds just below the knees from Pop-i-cok.

Do you have any fun fabric scrap links that you care to share? Or just leave a link from a recent blog posts showing one of your own "scrap love" projects... I would love to see what is inspiring you these days.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Great Minds Think Alike

... or at least that's what I've heard.

So, this week we had a knock on the door from Mr. Postman, and guess what he had for me? A sweet little package from Juliette with a few handmade Craft It Forward gifts inside. And let me just say that it is super fitting, since I've been rambling on about it for days, that one of her gifts was made using fabric scraps. Aren't these "thank you" cards great?

I love it when there is that extra added detail to things. I'm really loving the hot pink flower stamp that she used on the back of the cards. I'll share what else she sent me later... good things come to those who wait, right?

Gee, I wonder how she knew that I'm a huge fan of Heather Bailey fabrics?.... hmmmm.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


I'm still sorting through and having lots of fun with fabric scraps these days, not to mention that I had to try to find some creative outlet while my sewing machine was being repaired. My husband was actually laughing at poor, little ol' me, who was almost pacing the floor not quite knowing what to do without it. I'm super glad that the repairs did not take too long and I was able to put the finishing touches on these sweet little bookmarks.

Several years ago my parents got me a Cuttlebug embossing and die cutting machine for Christmas (link für Deutschland), and I have to say that I have really put it to good use since then. There are all kinds of cutting and embossing patterns from simple to very ornate.

Originally inspired from this post, I thought I would try my own version, and since the weather has been so cold and grey these days, I just had to pull out a few fabrics that remind me of warmer weather.

Perfect for suggling up next to a warm fire with a nice book, don't you think?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Craft It Forward Countdown

Just in case you have forgotten about this, let me just send out a quick little reminder, and hope that you will pass it along too. It seems as though I often tend to be quite revealing about myself, including many of my bad habits and shortcomings... so what's one more thing to admit? Here it is... I'm a procrastinator. Yep, and I am very aware of this tendency about myself. Somehow, it's like I need the pressure of a deadline to get me going. At university, I always waited until the last minute to finish most of my assignments, and I have to say that some of my best writing was always done right before a due date.

So I knew when I "signed my name on the dotted line" for Craft it Forward, that it would not happen until the very end of the year. But I have to say that I'm pretty proud that I have sent out all but one of my handmade items before Christmas. (come on, give me a break... I signed up for this on Facebook AND my blog... twice the work!) So, now there is only one month left until we bring in 2012... yeah, hard to believe, huh?

Have you sent out all your Craft it Forward gifts? Do you have a link to share about one of the items you sent or one of the items you received?... please share!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Just to Say "Thank You"

So how is it with you... do you find that when you get on a "kick" that it's hard to get off? Sometimes for me when inspiration hits, it often comes from the same place and I have to work an idea completely through until I've gotten it out of my system. As you might have noticed from my last two posts, I've been working a lot with fabric scraps these days. Recently while wasting a little bit of time on Pinterest, I found a sweet little project combining paper and fabric that inspired me for my latest "I should be doing something else instead" project.

I don't know about you, but when I buy something online and it shows up in a pretty packaging, or with that special added touch, it makes me feel like I'm not just another random person whose only purpose is to make the company's bank account a little fatter... but that my business might actually be appreciated.

I've been adding little "thank you" cards to orders that I send out for quite a while now, but I've had a lot of fun working on this non-sewing way to say "danke"... just my little extra to make an order feel less like an order and more like a present.

What, did you really think that I could put the Anna Maria LouLouThi fabrics down for long? I have to say that this one is my favorite... somehow the fun color combination and the intrigue of seeing just a small little snippet of this fabric makes this one for me kinda special.

What do you do with your fabric scraps? Do you like to combine fabric with other mediums?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Scrap Sampler

Some time ago I stumbled onto this on Pinterest and briefly shared it when I was on my "button kick". But I think it's such a fantastic project for some of those fabric scraps that you might have lying around that I wanted to share it again. Here are two downloadable "sewing notion displays" from Design Sponge, just right for showcasing your favorite fabric collections. I still have to say that Anna Maria Horner's Garden Party is still one of my all time favorites.

Also from the fabric and scrapbooking paper designers, Basic Grey, offer a bit more elaborate variations of these fabric sampler boards on canvas found here... oh, the possiblities!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Bits & Pieces

I just love it when I get a chance to use up some of the fabrics scraps that end up on the cutting floor, don't you? Since I've not really gotten into making quilts (yet), I find it hard to throw those little pieces of treasured fabric away... but quite frankly, sometimes I'm totally overwhelmed with them not quite knowing what do with them either. I had a tip that was passed on from Susanne recently of what she does with some of her fabric scraps (seriously, I would love to give you her link, but her blog is still in the process)

I have always loved covered buttons, and really like some recent projects I've seen with them being made into jewelry, push pins, magnets, and even gift wrap accents. Aren't these Aneela Hoey fabric covered button giant paper clips super sweet?... perfect for a bookmark or even getting yourself organized, and who doesn't need a little more order in their lives... right?

So, what do you do with your fabric scraps... any fun fabric scrap links?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Where the Heart Leads

Five years ago today, I got on a plane and left everyone and everything I've ever known... leaving behind my family, my friends, my house, my job, my way of life, my language, my culture, and yes, even simplicity. All for love. Of course it might make the story a little more readable, leaving one with that sense of an inner sigh, if I were to fluff it up by saying that "Prince Charming" and I lived happily ever after. But aren't such things exactly the kind of things that make up a fairytale?

Moving to another land, another culture might be much more complicated than meets the eye. On the surface, there are so many times that I think that there are really not that many differences between Americans and Germans. We all laugh, we love, we have families, and we share joy over the same kinds of things, and sorrow over just as many. The same sun rises and the same sun sets on both of our lands... just at different times. But what my soul has come to find joy in, and sometimes sadness in, is that while these surface things might make one feel connected, they can often be a painful reminder that this is not what I once knew as home. They often say that it takes more than a house to make it a "home", and that is true, but it takes so much more than that... more than just people that you love living in it.

In recent years when traveling "home" to the U.S., I have found myself quite disconnected. Things had carried on without me there to observe them and take part in them. I felt a little lost... there was familiarity without being familiar anymore. But that sense of being lost was not just on the part of returning to the place of my roots... it was also the absence of things that I have had to learn and embrace as my "new home". Some of these things came easily for me, while others I still struggle with.

But five years later finds me fairly fluent in my "new language", so much so that sometimes I have to ask my German husband the English word for "wxyz". Having a command of the language has given me a sense of freedom that I did not have at first, which makes simple things like shopping, going to the doctor, taking the train to a new city, or whatever you might find "common", not as scary as it once was. Sometimes it almost feels surreal that while I interact with others on a daily basis, whether I know them or not, that on the surface I might appear as just a normal girl making her way through life. But what they do not know is that I am actually looking out from behind my disguised cape of "anonymity", secretly relishing in the fact that they may never know that I as an "Ausländer" (alien/foreigner), view their world and see EVERYTHING they see with completely different eyes... and often they may not ever know it.

It’s kind of funny that just this past week, I was thinking about my old house... the one I bought on my own, fixed up on my own, and dearly loved. The interesting thing is that it was brick with some faux "Fachwerk" accents, with climbing ivy growing on it. You see, I've always loved this style. Something about it has always spoken to me, and when I reflect upon this and take into consideration that all these elements are quite typically found here, it makes me wonder if my soul knew ahead of time just where my heart would one day end up.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Christmas, Apples, & Introductions

Have you already started working on any Christmas presents for this year? I'm proud to say that I've started, and have plans for lots more. Oh, I would so love to say that this Christmas will be a total handmade holiday for me... well, perhaps with the exception of my husband and a few other men in the family. (seriously... what can you make someone who is excited about tractors, wine, a good cigar, and grilling?)

Aside from the new
Lizzy fabrics, the super sweet collection, "Little Apples" from Aneela Hoey, was the other fabric collection that I have been waiting on since last spring to get my hands on. If you think this collection is sweet, wait until you see the new fabrics that she introduced at Fall Market (to be delivered in spring)... blues, pinks, reds, greys... little red riding hood, foxes, flying mushrooms, all in the perfect shade of adorable.

With the fresh mix of reds and turquoises, I knew this would be the perfect fabric for my two nieces. I have another project now in the works, but I thought that I could use a few scraps to whip up this mini bag, found in Amy Butler's Style Stitches book. Really easy to sew, and don't all little girls love such bags to put their treasured what-nots in?

So, has your sewing machine started to hum
before the holidays, or do you need a little last minute pressure to get things going?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Secret Garden

You know what they say... "when it rains, it pours", and that is exactly how fabric deliveries have been around here these days. Actually, I had originally planned that the fabric collections that I had ordered from Spring Market would be delievered one month after the other, but somehow a couple were early, a couple were late, and now it seems as if everything has landed at the same time, which leaves me only one thing to do... another introduction. (but I'm sure you don't mind, do you?)

Sandi Henderson has been in the fabric design scene for quite some time now, creating lovely, sweet fabrics that are pefect not only for quilting, but epecially for children's clothing and other kids projects. Her latest fabric collection "Secret Garden" not only lends itself to children's projects, but reads a little softer and more sophisticated.

I remember reading "The Secret Garden" as a little girl, and this fabric collection evokes images of a lush, hidden garden burried somewhere deep in the woods or other undiscovered place, just waiting to be found... and that one vintage key, with so much character and intrigue, not knowing what it might unlock, who it belonged to, or how old it is. But thrilling to discover that it is just what one needs to unlock that intricately carved door, overgrown with roses, that leads into a wonderful world of pristine blooms and scents... what's in your secret garden?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Lizzy House is in the House!

Out of all the fabric collections that were introduced this year at Spring Quilt Market, this is the one that I have been waiting for... the one that made me sit up and go, wow! I've followed Lizzy House's work for quite some time now, and am super excited to get a hold of a few of her new fabrics from her most recent collection, "Outfoxed".
Outfoxed is a super fun, super colorful, "walk in the woods" on fabric. I love Lizzy's graphic and whimsical characters mixed with natural shapes. Pretty pinks, reds, and blues add a bit of fantasy to trendy foxes and hedgehogs.

... or soft yellows, limes, and deep olives give the collection a completely different look. I love the pop of turquoise-green in this first fabric.

... and probably my favorite colorway is with deep plums and vibrant oranges... just right for fall projects. I kind of have a feeling that this will not be the last time that you will be seeing this collection here.

What about you... do you have a favorite colorway?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Stories, Confessions & Being Practical

So I guess the "how" and "why" behind what I've been working on these days perhaps might need a little explanation... including somewhat of a confession. Before you quickly scroll down to see what I've been sewing, let me first warn you that you are not about to view the most "wow" worthy thing I've ever sewn. In fact, I would say that anyone who sews, at one time or another has made something similar. Perhaps, I need to explain a little...

As I've shared before, simple things like grocery shopping in Germany is much different than in the U.S. I shamefully admit that prior to living here, my weekly shopping trips included way too many plastic bags that only later found their way into the trash can. But that's one of the things that I love about Germans, is that almost everyone recycles here. So, in case you're on the U.S. side of the pond, let me fill you in on a little something that one would find in EVERY German home, and not just one but several... simple canvas bags. You can pick them up just about everywhere, but somehow it seems that one never has to because there are always a million of them at home, and as you read in my last post, Germans love them because they are very practical. (If you are German and reading this I would really love to know just how many of these you have in your home) Instead of plastic bags used to lug groceries home, one uses baskets, boxes, and yup, you guessed it, canvas bags. It really is great to have at least one or two of these in your purse in case you stop by someplace unexpected. Say for instance you need to pick up something at the florist, and then remember, you need a couple stamps and other office supplies at the post office, then since you're just next door you need to pick up a few things at the pharmacy, while doing that you think that it might be nice to pick up a few pastries for coffee and cake time in the afternoon... where do you put it all? yup, again, in your handy, dandy canvas bag. (boy, you're good)

So since living in "Rome", it might be easy to see that I've started doing a few things the way the "Romans" do. But now for my confession. I too tote these little bags with me when I am out running my errands. And once again I shamefully admit that I've not been taking my pretty handmade purses for the daily "here and there" shopping. Not only that, I've opted to take the old, faded, worn out, don't know where in the world they came from, canvas bags because they are, um, well,... practical.

But I could bear it no longer, and decided that practical could be pretty too, and not only could be, but should be. In addition, I was able to put to use some really nice scraps in the process. I no longer have to hang my head in shame because of the old, dirty bags hanging on my shoulder, but I now I have my own stack of pretty canvas bags to replace them...

... proving that one really can have the best of both worlds... any "confessions" of your own?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Pretty vs. Practical

When one has the opportunity to live in another culture, it is to be expected that it won't take long to notice all the subtle and the not so subtle differences. It certainly didn't take me five years to figure out that Germans, in general, are very practical. (if you are not included in this generally blanketed statement, please take no offense, as none was intended) This does not mean that Germans do not enjoy beautiful things, quite the contrary. Usually if something is only "pretty" without also being "practical", then it's a sure fire way for a German to overlook it. I do not find such a cultural characteristic to be a negative one, but just a different one.

For example: On some visit to the States a while back, I had to explain to my husband why most American's have a "two-shower-curtain-in-one" system. In case you're not familiar, often this is with one fabric outside curtain (aka "pretty"), and one plastic inside curtain (aka "practical")... the best of both worlds, if you will. It actually developed into qu
ite a lengthy conversation of explaining why two are better than one. My husband just could not understand the concept that while the fabric shower curtain in itself holds no practical uses, the plain plastic single curtain just is not desired because it is not attractive.

I find that for many Americans, decisions to purchase things can often be based on, "I bought it because it was pretty... no other reason." But I guess as they say, "when in Rome, do as the Romans do" thinking has influenced a few of my sewing projects these days. Just a little preview for now... more to come later (with additional stories... see, I told you I just couldn't stay away from these fabrics.)

So... it leaves me with just one question for you... when it comes to "pretty vs. practical" which one do you go for?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Falling Leaves

What's on your "round-to-it" list?... I found this pattern a while back on Martha Stewart and have been wanting to make these great oak leaf bowls for fall decorations. Even though felt is not my usual medium of choice, I've got a couple of wool fabrics that would be beautiful for these. You can download the pattern here and there's even a really great video to go with it. I've not managed to get any fall decorations out... and you?

Also on my list are to get a few more "Craft it Forward" gifts out... I guess there's not too much time left in 2011. (there's nothing like a little pressure, right?)
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