Wednesday, November 30, 2011

candle no. 1

The first candle has been lit. 
Candle number one on our Advent wreath represents love

Love came down at Christmas,
Love all lovely, Love Divine: 
Love was born at Christmas: 
Star and angels gave the sign.
-Christina Rossetti

It was a very easy wreath this year. Almost too easy (good thing I have that e-course coming up to keep me busy!)  I found the patchwork wreath I made last year in its storage box in the cellar and decided it looked rather nice! Feeling blissfully happy that I live out in the country out I went and snipped away at bushes and trees in our yard and even my lavender and rosemary bushes. These herb bundles are so fragrant along with the evergreens. Mmmm....
My daughter found these lovely berry red candles while we were shopping recently. I love the frosty festive look and it's okay with me that they are a slightly large for the wreath - perfectly imperfect is perfect! 
Nature has so many variations on shades of green even in this leafless season. I really started to notice that while gathering my clippings. I love the silver-green of the herbs and the yellow-green of the boxwood. How beautiful they all look with browns: little anis stars, cinnamon sticks, tiny pine cones. I simply placed them on the glass plate under and around the patchwork wreath and if they start to become too dry before Christmas I can quickly replace them with fresh greens.

I will leave you today with an image of some goodies from my shop that just were dispatched to a customer and another great quote from one of our children's favorites...



"And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so?  It came without ribbons.  It came without tags.  It came without packages, boxes or bags.  And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore.  Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before.  What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store.  What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more. " ~Dr Seuss

Happy First Week of Advent! 
xoxo 
Karen
P.S. Lovely quotes found here!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

fall (part two)


It's still fall here, even though our town has put up the Christmas lights and there are stars and Santas appearing in people's windows. It's still fall and November has been so sunny and dry that ski season in the Alps has been postponed (according to the news) and sadly our river Rhine is down almost too low for ships.

Is it fall where you live? Has snow fallen? Or is it a different season alltogether? I am curious....

I am also curious, because I have the feeling many of you out there are as in love with this season as I am, what do you love most about fall? 

I certainly couldn't decide on one thing in particular. But I can narrow down some favorite things:

the vibrant colors
the magic of beaded spiderwebs and glittery frost
the element of gratitude for the fall harvest
(because gratitude is wholeness and happiness)
a big low moon
red berries on bare branches
lanterns & songs & sweet rolls (German tradition of St. Martin)
costumes & pumpkins & candy (US tradition of Halloween)

Oh dear, the list is getting longer than I wanted!

One more fave I must mention though are the mushrooms that seem to pop up overnight in all different variations in the garden and forest. Even in my studio artsy & lovely fall fungi have appeared!
  
I was inspired by mix & match, pretty fabrics and embellishments, found & re-purposed materials and of course the magic of autumn. These decorative softies are really unique and fun for a child or the child at heart! 
 
As usual, I have given each one a name such as "Tweet" and "Dotty" and if you like, you can see all of them here!

I'm sure you will agree though that one of the very best parts of fall is anticipating Advent and Christmas. . I am super excited because I have signed up for an e-course “The 12 Arsty Ornaments of Christmas”. This course has such a cool line up of mixed-media artists who will be presenting projects. I have never done an e-course before and am really looking forward to it.  I just hope I have most of the materials on hand. I can hardly wait until the 5th!

xoxo
Karen

Monday, November 21, 2011

the story of a pretty party dress

Sometimes I get a bittersweet feeling when I see the darling things all the creative moms out there are making for their little ones, especially the adorable creations my friend Rachel sews for her little girl. They just don't stay little for long! A decade ago I had my chance and I did sew some cute clothes for my daughter. Sweet jumpers and pants are all safely tucked away in a pretty keepsake box along with the handmade sweaters & dresses from her grandmothers.

That pretty box hasn't had anything added to it for quite a few years now.

Then, out of the blue, this fall she signed up for a ballroom dancing course at her school and announced that for the big ball she was going to sew her own cocktail dress. With a little help from her mom :)

I was absolutely delighted and perhaps a tiny bit daunted, because you know getting dressed up for a ball is a bit different than hanging out with your play-date after preschool.

So despite any fears or doubts of course I said yes. First she selected a Burda pattern online that we downloaded (40 pages), taped all the pages together, traced the pattern pieces, purchased pretty burgandy taft and tulle, cut and started to sew.
Then she found a different pattern she MUCH preferred.

(Big smile)

She didn't need long to convince me. I will admit that while  it seems a waste of energy and money for the other fabric, I was relieved as I was feeling really overwhelmed by that German pattern with no drawings. (I'm still planning to forge on with it though...half of my pins are in that fabric and I miss them! The dress will be pretty for Christmas or New Years, and she can get some more practice sewing.)
The new pattern is McCalls with English directions. It sewed up beautifully and my daughter did a great deal of the work herself.
We both learned a lot. For the first time I sewed a corset bodice with wires. The seamstress at the fabric shop gave me an excellent tip – cover the ends with duct tape to keep them from piercing through the material. Much faster than sewing little fabric covers on each ends. You would have never guessed would you, isn't it fascinating to get the inside scoop on these things?

Of course this all gets hidden and I'm proud that the inside is as beautiful as the out. 

At first we made the dress with the shirred waist. She tried it on and we both decided it wasn't flattering so ripped it all apart, cut out new pieces and sewed in the flat waist. I think at that point I had to go back to the fabric shop since my thread had run out. Then we had a few minor problems with the zipper / tightness of the bodice. By the end, I had sewn in the zipper three times. The fabric is pretty amazing still to be holding up so well! 

(By the way, the seam-ripper is now on vacation getting a well-deserved rest!)

Finally, a day or so before the ball, the dress was finished. The ball was a dream. Quite different than the "homecomings" and "proms" I remember from high school. These children actually knew the dance steps, for one thing. All the parents were there, everyone dressed to the nines, the children (young adults I should say!) all had partners. The boys brought pretty little bouquets for their partners and the girls had boxes of chocolates in return. They danced a few dances to show us what they had learned (disco fox and waltz and cha-cha-cha to name a few), then the girls danced with their fathers, the sons with their mothers, the girls and boys (all looking so incredibly grown up) danced with each other.

Everything was lovely. And my daughter was too. And after all that dancing, the dress still looks perfect! 
 Phew. Now back to that other dress....


xoxo
Karen

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

beautiful days / children helping children

 
These are simply beautiful November days. Frosty mornings shrouded in fog, pale sun quickly breaking through and making the last golden leaves sparkle, and a big moon bright when evening sets all too early. There is such a clear quality in the light right now....
 
It's getting bare yet there are still colors and flowers and leaves. The earth is quieting down and we are slowly getting into the pre-Advent spirit here. For us it always starts with giving on November 15th.

In our house the 15th has become "Christmas in a Shoe Box Day", the day the children send off little boxes of Christmas cheer and goodness to other children someone in the world who need a gift. We started getting involved in this a couple years ago when the pick-up point for the shoe boxes was in my son's preschool. Now we are addicted! It is so much fun. We do it like this: each of our children "sponsors" a child her or his age. Together we go shopping for toys, school supplies, candy, personal items etc. My kids pick out what they want to give "their" child. Then we pack the box up and send them on their way with blessings and hopes. It's an international organization and you can read about it (German) here or (English) here.

I'm sure next year we'll be doing it again!

We always are sure to include a personal greeting. This year the children made paper children holding hands.
Last year I made a scrapbook page about it for our family book. It was one of those occasions that I really wanted to remember but didn't have a great photo (background was not nice) so I ended up cutting the children out and I kind of like the fun way it turned out.

Actually I have not been scrapbooking recently but I know there will be a week when I get obsessed with it again and can't concentrate on anything else until I get a stack of new pages into my album! I promise to start showing more of my favorite layouts for you here on my blog.
xoxo K.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

limited & lovely

A bit later than I wanted, but nevertheless, I do believe in time for German and European shoppers, my etsy shop is now stocked with a limited little collection of goodies for Christmas! Hooray!

(North American shoppers must be very quick if they want something in time for Christmas. For small items I do think shipping will be fairly quick. My experience is that larger packages sent in November from here to USA may not arrive until mid-January!)

Just click on my shop section "Holiday" to find my entire Christmas collection including: cute pins with inspiring words, vintage gift tags, lovely drawstring pouches for gift-giving or keeping :), garlands (you know I love garlands!), big hearts, little paper buntings.Lots of yummy colors, mostly pinks and reds and whites. Have fun looking!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 xoxo 
Karen

Friday, November 11, 2011

a little peak

Here's a little peak of Christmas crafting in progress. Lots of holiday items will be up in my shop in a few days, please stay tuned! 
 
 

Have a lovely weekend! 
xoxo
Karen

Monday, November 7, 2011

fall

brave

cozy
 departing

adding first layers 
catching the sun
 
 suddenly
 letting go

ripe
 jumping for joy

tiny miracles  
peaceful


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

hello november

hello there November....you arrived so quickly
 We ended October with a Halloween party for a handful of teens (dressed wickedly :)) - my daughter's friends - and she carved a friendly/spooky jack o' lantern and prepared a fabulous spiderweb cheesecake for her lovely guests. She made it last year and this year again - she's become quite a pro! The recipe is from an old issue of Martha Stewart Living but I'm sure it's on her website. Very delicious but almost too rich.... 
 
 November starts with a state holiday in our neck of the woods so we got yesterday off. After the slumber-party guests went home, my husband and I stole away for a romantic 3-hour hike through our glorious autumn forest. We are simply addicted to our walks!
After that I planted tulips and other bulbs...I honestly am not in the mood for gardening right now but know how I am going to love those flowers come spring. The hike warmed me up but the sun was going down, so I brought a big steaming mug of tea to sip between digging and trimming (Choco Aztec Spice by Yogi tea....not my fave but perfect right now!). Working outside among the falling golden leaves felt so good. I would have missed the pretty roses which are still fully in bloom and and listening to the children chattering and riding their bikes before evening darkness arrived all too soon.

Hope you are enjoying a good beginning of the new month. 
xoxo
Karen