Monday, October 28, 2013

something's brewing

Overnight the day got dark an hour earlier. Frightful gusts of warm wind make the leaves dance and twist high in the sky, on the ground they swirl at my feet.
Three children who can be the best of friends  - but not always - gathered together for a little carving party at the kitchen table. In the evening, three jack-o-lanterns appeared, two at the front door, one out the kitchen window.
The weather is stormy and I've already seen two trees down. Fingers crossed & prayers for safety all around where this storm is passing through.
The children are excited about parties and friends Thursday evening.
On the menu tonight - pumpkin soup (recipe soon I hope!) and homemade bread. I'm trying out a new recipe tonight for foccacia with olives & sun-dried tomatoes, and rosemary. The dough smells so good!

Hope the start of your week is not too blustery!

Friday, October 25, 2013

in love with lavender

The first time I truly consciously inhaled the delightful fragrance of lavender was when I was about 12 in the south of France. We visited perfume factories and nibbled on candied roses and I purchased a small bottle of lavender fragrance as a souvenir. I believe that scents and smells often possess a more powerful memory trigger than a photo or a snippet of music. A scent has the ability to take you back so immediately and clearly to moments in the past.
 However, as exciting as it could have been, those two weeks in the south of France at age 12 were not exactly a highlight for me. I could not take the heat, I was horribly homesick, I couldn't get a bite down and the bus travel on winding, hilly roads just upset my queasy tummy even more. For years after that experience, I sniffed at my lavender fragrance wondering did I love it or hate it, as it quickly brought me back to unpleasant memories.
Despite the negative memories, I realized that I really truly loved the fragrance. I remember consciously trying to CHANGE my association! As time passed, old associations faded and eventually disappeared. 

Before age 12 I did not know what a lavender plant even looked like.

I was thrilled when the day came that my 3 year-old daughter identified lavender and basil and rosemary that was growing on our balcony at that time. I am thankful my children are growing up with a vocabulary of plants, scents, and tastes. My parents offered me a different vocabulary, and that's fine. One of the treasures of being a parent is that you pass on what's important to you. And then your children will hopefully have the fundamentals to go on and discover what's important to them.
I've never been back to the south of France since that summer in the early 1980's. But how I would like to! One of my dreams is to travel around in Provence with my husband and visit markets, galleries, cafes and lavender fields. Perhaps we would hike and bike and swim and sketch and of course, take many photos.
When you are waiting for a dream to become reality, you start making little bits of it happen in small ways. For me, that is the dozen lavender plants I have growing in our garden. There are probably two dozen. Our Rhine climate is sunny and warm and conducive for lavender. I'm sure the first Romans even brought it here. Every spring I seem to buy a few more plants and then wonder where to put them! In the summer there are days when my hands begin to ache from the repeated motions of trimming the flowers. (perhaps a better garden scissors?)
And then the really monotonous work begins, that is, if you want to use the dried flowers. This fall, my sweet mother-in-law worked for hours filling up a large bag of lavender for me to sell at the upcoming Christmas market. And my daughter and I also sat with the late summer sun on our backs pulling off the buds....hours at a time. I'm very thankful for my helpers! I have prepared dozens of lavender sachets. The little hearts and birds to hang on hangers are still waiting for pretty mother-of-pearl buttons.
Monotonous or meditative? (One of my current philosophic musings, you may have noticed). Whatever! I simply enjoyed working with lovely fabrics and sewing these sachets! I will also enjoy sewing on the buttons while basking in the lovely scent of my favorite fragrance.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Autumn around here

There are so many beautiful images of fall homes and decor I've been seeing lately and I've been having fun pinning some favorites on my autumn board. It's also inspired me to take a few photos of fall in our home & garden to share with you.

To me, fall in the home is celebrating the colors & the harvest, bringing in nature, lots of DIY crafts (from now and from years past), many candles and of course, cozy cats lounging around!  What is it for you? I'd love your comments!
 A basket of real apples & sewn pears are pretty on the table.
The hedge out the front window becomes bright red in September, it's short lived but a simply glorious red that just glows! Now it's nearly all gone. I love this little bird hopping around under the peach tree. He reminds me of a bird I sewed many years ago...
...on this felted, beloved sweater, which was upcycled to a bag, which I didn't like, so then it became a pillow a few years ago. I love it on the sofa! Even the buttons were upcycled finds from the thrift shop.
Sofas and chairs must have generous piles of pillows and blankets and dozing cats to become really cozy!
The sunflower & lavender wreath I made last year hangs on the front door. You can see it here. A cat at the door isn't bad, either. Is he guarding us or just amusing himself with the little black bird hopping around? You know cats are great multi-taskers, it's probably a bit of both! (and a nap at the same time, too!)
My little son and I gathered some gorgeous things from the garden and made a nature mobile for his bedroom. Our favorite part was the gathering! It turned out lovely but got a bit wilted by the time I had a good moment for taking a photo. You'll just have to trust me on that :)
Oh hi, it's me! My sweet husband took a snapshot of me the other day. One thing I love about the fall is getting out the sweaters. When we hike around in the forest I love wearing this gorgeous wool poncho - I bought it years ago and remember really debating it as it was organic and even marked down very expensive. It's definitely been worth it! Less things, better things....better in the end.
Sunflowers in the kitchen. The last ones from the garden this year....oh how I love them!
Also in my kitchen...snuggled amongst my collecting of cups and teas and this and that, a Halloween candle and a ghost who feels right at home with my angel.
On Saturday I lugged a few of the MANY & very HEAVY pumpkins down from the veggie patch to my favorite little outdoor spot, only to find out that my favorite little spot now has to make way for firewood. I was a bit mad. But it happens every fall. I should know by now! Plus my husband is right....warmth over prettiness....I'll really agree with that once it gets cold!
Our yard and veggie patch yesterday. It has been unseasonably warm - even hot - this week, although as I type it is raining cats and dogs so don't be jealous of our beautiful sun.
Goodness that was a lot of photos! Hope you enjoyed seeing our crafty, natural little home in the autumn - thanks for looking and have a lovely day!


Friday, October 18, 2013

pumpkin spice latte

We have an abundance of pumpkins again in our veggie patch that are ready for harvest. There'll be lots of pumpkin-based meals, cookies and muffins on our table. Certainly a few jack-o-lanterns, too!  
We tried this recipe yesterday. I omitted the whipped cream and made my own pumpkin pie spice with a dash of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger.
Try it, so delicious!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

crunchy, not too sweet, delicious!

Last week I made a batch of homemade granola. I used the recipe from Serena Thompson's "Farm Chicks in the Kitchen" cookbook.  I substituted walnuts for the pecans as we have a walnut tree and baskets full of healthy, organic walnuts just waiting for someone to shell and devour. 
Takes a bit longer to prepare the granola if you shell your own nuts but we're on a slower pace thanks to fall vacation, and I am trying to cultivate a mentality of meditation while doing repetitive tasks with my hands (stitching, gardening, cleaning, working with our bees, shelling nuts!) I didn't grow up this way and changing the way you think is an active challenge, I'm sure we all agree!  It is very satisfying when you take a bite to think, our walnuts, our honey....worth every minute of work!
If you are inspired to make granola, here is the recipe I used.

There was not much left this morning! All five of us have been enjoying it. My favorite version: one chopped apple, a few grapes, a few spoonfuls of organic vanilla or fruit yogurt, and a sprinkling of granola on top. A perfect breakfast!


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Little owl is flying to her new home.... Northern Ireland! Congratulations to the winner, Vivienne of Green Rabbit Designs!

I had a wonderful assistant in selecting the winner - my daughter!  She closed her eyes and drew a name from a bowl. Thanks so much to all of you who entered - it really made my day that you participated! Those who pinned and shared, you had multiple entries. I wish everyone could have won so I think there will be more giveaways in the future!

Have a lovely day! 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Autumn giveaway! (closed)

Welcome to my first giveaway ever!
I know so many of us are in love with fall! To celebrate this vibrant season, I am going to be sending a lucky winner this gorgeous magazine and my little handmade owl.
He's so cute, he'll just fit in the palm of your hand and will be sure to be a loyal friend all year round.
The magazine is a current issue called "Herbst Deko" which means "autumn decor". But even if you don't read German you'll just love the DIY ideas, fabulous photos, home-decor inspiration and beautiful images in this autumn issue. (For years I subscribed to MarieClaire Ideas without understanding much more than "Bonjour" and "Merci" -sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words!)

But if you do know German, you'll love it too!

To enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment here or on my facebook page or both :) You are also more than welcome to help me spread the word by linking the giveaway on your blog or facebook (I'd be ever so pleased - please let me know if you do!) I'd just love you to participate!

I will announce the winner next Tuesday October 15th and you will receive your package promptly!

Thanks for joining in and good luck! 

Monday, October 7, 2013

woodland inspired

All summer I heard on owl hooting in the middle of the night in our garden. My daughter and husband claimed they've heard him before in previous years, but I guess I was always sound asleep!

We've had lots of birthdays in the family recently so I've been busy making handmade cards.
Also have been busy creating little owls for new garlands in my shop. The new Estykids Team Shopping guide is out and several of my shop products have been featured, you can see them here and here. Love all the beautiful products available from talented members of this team!
Our Saturday was a day of nonstop, pouring rain! I really don't mind that because that's the only time I can convince my husband to go on an Ikea outing. My middle son has been waiting patiently for some bedroom upgrades from little-kid to teen and we're all happy for the improvements his room got this weekend.
Sunday the sun came out in patches and my husband and i took a nice long walk in the forest. Every time an acorn fell it was accompanied by a symphony of raindrops falling on leaves. There are fungi popping up everywhere and the trees are still lush green yet leaves are gently twirling to the ground...
Love these little woodland owls. Check out my pinterest board for lots of woodland inspiration and cute craft ideas to do with your kids!

Happy Monday!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Black cats, pumpkins and other good things

Hello, October!
I love this month - we can be sure to enjoy some gorgeous blue skies and sunshine, vibrant colors and happy days. My mom's birthday is in October (hi Mom! I know you're reading this :) look in your mailbox for a package of sweets!). In the various places I've lived, October is a month of fun for kids, jumping in piles of leaves and carving jack-o-lanterns, Halloween memories, and in Germany harvest festivals such as Oktoberfest or in our local vineyard area, wine fest. There is a carnival feeling in the air. In October we get a day off on the 3rd - the national holiday celebrating Germany coming together. I try to describe the wall between East and West Germany and divided Berlin to my kids and they just can't believe it. We have two weeks off school for fall break and the children just love that freedom (as I do, as well, no homework to help them with and I can hang up my chauffeur's hat for a couple weeks!)

Here are some pages from my scrapbook from 2012 (which is already brimming full but not complete, yet!).  One day last September I looked out the kitchen window and there were my kids, carving a whole bunch of jack-o-'lanterns from pumpkins in our garden. Their creations were so cute! This is a two page layout, the right page layout was a scraplift from a Shimelle sketch here but I really wanted to include more images, hence the left page with mostly photos.
Some close-ups...
On the back of the right layout, I did the next page with October photos. I was just picking up the children after school and everything was so gorgeous, I took some spontaneous photos. On this page I just let the patterned paper and photos do the talking. Sweet and simple.
The next page in the album is a page about my son. I love to make pages with little descriptions of my kid's lives in that particular moment in time. So fun to go back and read them later! I really adore all those cute autumn embellishments.
Are you getting the feeling that autumn inspires me? :)
I have not been scrapbooking recently but I have been sewing...a few new sweet autumn decorations up in my shops here and here, love how they turned out! Black cats and pumpkins, oh wow, I can taste the candy corn and caramel apples right now!
I really enjoyed all of your comments on my last post, but I did I just want to say that those images were a few of the happy moments from summer. My life is full of ups and downs just like everyone else's! In fact this past September was quite full of challenging events. I have learned to try not to linger on the bad moments but try to focus on the good....for example, on my blog or in my scrapbooking. Of course my kids are just human and will bicker and fight, but when I see them carving pumpkins together in total harmony and happiness, I am filled with joy and want to celebrate that. I love using my camera to seek the small moments of beauty and I love sharing that here, because I do feel such gratitude for all our many blessings. Even when there are difficult times, those beautiful moments do all add up. 

Happy October to you!