Thursday, December 31, 2009

Farewell, 2009!

Yesterday, my sister sent me this photo of my painting hung up in her house, but what I loved most of all are my sweet nephews sitting under it (and my sister saying I could post it on my blog)! They are just the cutest little boys and so very much fun and always full of energy!
Well, dear friends and family, today is the last day of the year. I started the year without knowing most of you and I end it being so many friendships richer! I feel like the luckiest woman!

Do you do resolutions for the new year? I haven't had much luck with them, but I do like coming up with a theme for the year. Last year that was appreciation, especially of what I already had in my life and I had thought that this meant that my life would sort to stay in place, just be deeper and richer. A lot of deepening happened, but mostly, my life expanded in a wild way this year and I want to explore that feeling of expansion further in 2010.
I want to examine all the corners of my life, look beyond the obvious, courageously try new things, say "yes" to opportunities coming my way, listen to my heart, leave fear outside the door, love everyone whose path crosses mine, assume that everything is unfolding perfectly, and embrace the person I am becoming. And, of course, I want to share that journey with you all and at the same time follow your leaps and bounds as you continue on your creative paths. This is an awesome community and I am so happy to be a part of it! Together we will change our worlds!
Here's to a wonder-filled, happy and healthy 2010 for all of us! Wishing you everything you are hoping for!!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Another Little Painting

Yesterday, I took another hour and painted this little painting of two friends. They are almost more like little sketches (only 4 x 6 and not 5 x 7 like I had previously posted), painted without a plan and really without thinking too much, purely from the heart.

Hair is always my big bugaboo, and I like how these girls' hair turned out! Faces seem easy to me, they sort of just come together, but hair is a different story for me...

Thank you all for your heartfelt comments on my last post! You all are wonderful!! Can't wait to visit all of your blogs...

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Do you remember my Summer Maiden? My dad took her to Germany for my sister for Christmas and had her framed so beautifully. She'd been my sister's favorite and I have to admit, one of mine as well. Painting her was magical! I was going to wait to get a photo from my sister after she's hung the painting, but you all know how impatient I can be...

With this year coming to a close, I've been reflecting on all the things I've done last year and two things stand out. Last March, pretty much out of the blue, I had an overwhelming urge to start making art (a first for me) and - and this was most surprising for a fairly private person like me - to publicly blog about it. So I jumped right in and it has changed my life in ways I could not have foreseen!

I had expected
❧ to produce some collages that were fun for me to make, but not necessarily beautiful
❧ to write a few blog posts for my close friends and family to know what's going on in my life
❧ to maybe keep making art if I liked it
❧ to maybe keep blogging if I didn't get tired of it

I did not expect
❧ to actually start painting
❧ to make art that I and others love
❧ to not being able to imagine my life without art any longer
❧ to still feel the urgent need to keep writing and sharing after all these months
❧ to have found such a generous blogging community
❧ to have formed some genuine new friendships in this blogging community
❧ to care so deeply about people I've never met
❧ to receive such amazing encouragement from you all day after day
❧ to give and receive gifts and treasures that aren't always the obvious kind

It makes me think of the image of throwing a pebble into a pond. You feel the pebble, you throw it, you see where it lands, and then you watch the ripples go out from that place. And that's what I've been marveling at here - where I started and where it is still leading me, all unfolding perfectly. It seems miraculous to me!!

So, as this year comes to a close, I want to thank you for your encouragement, your feedback, your witnessing of my creative unfolding, your friendships and your love! I hope I can give to you just a fraction of what you have given me!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Flower Power!

Do you remember this photo of the colorful cotton yarn I had bought?
Well, I crocheted and crocheted until I had 80 little flowers and then jointed them together to make these two scarves for two special young girls.
So colorful!
So fun! And if you want to try making one yourself, you can find the pattern here.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Time For a Little Art!

Yesterday, I finally had one hour with nothing planned and I promptly went up to my studio and painted this woman. I've prepared a few 5 x 7 pieces of acrylic paper with gesso so I can do little paintings like this when I have just a little bit of time.

I love how tender she looks. When I told Daniel that I didn't know why she looks so sad, his prompt response was: "Well, of course she looks sad - Christmas is over!"

I've also started a large painting, which I haven't done in a few months. Very excited about that!!

Did you all have a wonderful holiday? Ours was filled with good friends, family, delicious food (way too much of it), cookies, pastries and dessert, thoughtful gifts, laughter, and most of all gratitude for all the goodness in our life! Of that goodness you are a big part! Thank you!!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Warm and Merry Days to you!

As things get busier here for us, I wanted to take a moment and wish all of you wonderfully warm and festive days during this Holiday season! I know not everyone is happy and healthy during this time and to you I send extra special warm wishes!! May you be uplifted and touched by the angels around you!

Sending you all my gratitude and love!!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Wintery Snapshots from Germany

This morning, my dad took a walk through snowy Münster, my hometown, to take some pictures for Daniel and me, particularly of the yearly Christmas Market. I thought you might enjoy seeing these as well.

The Christmas Market is an old established December tradition where booths are set up throughout downtown and people offer their handmade crafts and gifts, food and drink. It's always fun and festive, but with a little bit of snow, it's even more magical!

There has to be food (good German sausages in this case)...
... and drink - hot mulled wine at this stand ...
... pretty nicknacks to admire and maybe purchase ...

... and of course a few fun rides for the little kids!
I hope you enjoyed this wintery stroll through Münster's Christmas Market! Wishing you all a lovely day!!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Cookie Disaster Averted...

Ok, remember the German magazine I was showing you some days ago (if you don't know what I'm talking about, click here)? Well, it came with a booklet of cookie recipes. So, I decided to try one made with ground almonds and pine nuts. They were supposed to look like they do in the picture above.

But something went terribly wrong and they first lost their beautiful shape and became totally flat and then refused to come off the cookie sheet, although I followed all instructions. So, instead of looking like in the picture above, they looked like this - a heap of broken wafers. Tasty, but not fit to take to the neighbors as was my plan!
I was not happy, but creative Daniel came to the rescue and suggested we break them into small pieces, stir them into melted chocolate and then make little chocolate/cookie heaps and let them cool. You can see the result in the picture below - not only do they look fine, but they taste great!! We paired them with a few other cookies and had a nice assortment to give to all our wonderful neighbors!
In the words of my good friend, Beth: "Chocolate cures all problems!!" Actually the same could be said for cookies in general...

Wishing you delicious treats this Holiday season!!

Friday, December 18, 2009

New Scarves, a Book and a Movie

So much is going on these days that I could do three posts a day if I had the time! I also wish I had more time to visit you all on your blogs - but I'll make the time this weekend and get caught up with what's been going on with you!
In the meantime, I've finished and listed two new scarves in my Etsy shop. One is elegant and lace in violets and rose tones, and the other one is warm, soft and cuddly in a bluish/grey/green color. You can check them out further by clicking here.
Daniel and I like to listen to certain programs on National Public Radio, among them The Splendid Table - because we both love to cook and eat! Lately, I've been trying lots of new recipes from their cookbook and all of them are excellent and delicious. Plus, it has great tips and stories as an added bonus. So, if you like to cook, you might check it out!
Yesterday afternoon, Daniel and I did a rare thing - we went to the movies!! A couple of weeks ago we had heard an interview on National Public Radio's Fresh Air with Wes Anderson about his new stop-motion animation film Fantastic Mr. Fox, based on the children's book by Roald Dahl. It was wonderful and we both highly recommend it. Here's the trailer if you want to take a look:

I hope you are all doing well and are having a wonderful Friday! I'll be visiting your blogs this weekend!! And, in case I don't say it often enough, thank you for continuing to visit mine!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

My Favorite German Decorations

I wanted to share some of my very favorite German Christmas decorations, all of them given to us by my aunt, Inge (Thank you, Inge!). Every year, as I unpack them, they give me such joy! They are so small and so pretty! My absolute favorite is the little angel bakery in the photo above. (Can you see Winslow chewing on a bone in the background?)
Tiny, tiny angels...
...and a pretty Christmas caroling scene.
These are two little figures in the traditional costumes of the Black Forest - I added the pine tree candle.
And another snowy caroling scene, this time on top of a music box, turning and turning to the sweet sounds of Silent Night.
I was trying to find a picture of the Christmas tree I grew up with and found the one below (one of the very few I have) with my dad and our cute little wire-haired dachshund we grew up with.

My parents would put up the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve when my sister and I were little. We had to wait in our room until the we heard a little bell ring three times. When we'd step into the living room, it was always like magic - everything was transformed!

We always used real beeswax candles on our tree, which looked so beautiful and festive, but never lasted long before they had to be blown out. Plus, they had to be supervised very closely. The little beaded wreath ornaments were all handmade by my mom and so pretty. I remember there was one in pearly pink and dark burgundy beads that was my very favorite!
These days, Daniel and I use the little artificial lights on our tree, which I love because I can have them on all the time (the tree is lit as I type this). Plus we can put up our tree well before Christmas and enjoy it for several weeks. I love the house decorated at this time of the year and was happy to adopt the American custom of putting up the tree early!

What are some of the customs you've adapted from when you were little? Or did you preserve all the traditions you grew up with? Or maybe you are creating traditions all your own?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

So pretty...

Over the years, my sweet aunt, Inge, has given us many Christmas-related gifts, among them a number of table cloths and runners. This is one of my favorites! I love the winter scenes and decided to use it as a backdrop for a very special Christmas card.

A dear friend of ours in Albuquerque is a talented calligrapher and every year, she and her husband send out a card that his entirely handmade and always features her calligraphy and is folded in a clever way! I thought all you creative folks might enjoy seeing it.

Peace on earth and goodwill to men is a wonderful thing to wish for all of us! I'm so glad you all have become part of my world!

Favorite New Cookies

A couple of years ago, when I came back home from visiting my family in Germany in December, Daniel had made a batch of these cookies and they have quickly become some of our favorites! They are called Czechoslovakian Moon Cookies and you can find the recipe here.

I was going to copy it onto my blog, but wasn't sure about the copyright issues. Plus, the site it's on is interesting, about all things related to St. Nicholas and St. Nicholas Day.

St. Nicholas Day, December 6, was always a big deal for us children in Germany. The night before, you put your shoes (or boots if you were hoping for a big treat) in front of your room's door and hoped that St. Nicholas came during the night to leave you some goodies, usually chocolate or candy. I was always hoping that I had been good enough (I sometimes had problems in that department), because if you hadn't been good, St. Nicholas would leave a bunch of switches or lumps of coal. I was lucky though in that even if I got a bundle of switches, it always came with little chocolates attached to it!

Even now, Daniel and I find little treats in our Christmas stockings on St. Nicholas Day.

Reading your comments on my last post (thank you!!), I thought about how different some of our customs were growing up in Germany than they for me now, living in the States. I'll have to tell you about some of them in another post.

In the meantime, I hope you'll try making these cookies - they are delicious. We did make some changes to the recipe, which you might try as well. We usually use hazelnuts instead of the walnuts and then add a little hazelnut liqueur to the frosting. I also find that I don't use all of the frosting - makes it a little less sweet! Plus, we just cut them into diamond shapes instead of making them into half moons. Enjoy!!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Decorating a Little

We are finally getting into the Christmas spirit and I want to share just a few of our decorations with you. I was thinking yesterday how everything we put on our tree or around the house has a special meaning for us. And especially when we decorate the tree, we are always smiling and exchanging memories and retelling the stories our ornaments remind us of.

Some of our ornaments are new, but a few are old and treasured ornaments from Daniel's family, like this beautiful Silent Night glass ball....
...and this beautifully striped ornament!
The beaded quezal bird we just bought on our recent stop in Guatemala. We like to bring back little things that remind us of the trips we have taken.... this angel from a vacation in Hawaii in 1996...
...and this chimney sweep (for good luck!) from our many trips to Germany.
Many of our ornaments remind us of our family and friends. For example, this beautifully batiked egg was made by one of my friends and former coworkers. Her work is exquisite!
And this little cocktail glass arrived in the mail a couple of years ago from my good friend Beth after she had visited me in Savannah and we enjoyed a few Cosmos together!
Many of our ornaments remind us of my sweet aunt in Germany, who has supplied us with some of the most wonderful Christmas decorations over the years. One year, she sent a small box filled with angels and straw stars - we use them every year! I'll be sharing more of my German decorations in another post - they are really pretty and I think you'd enjoy seeing them!
Winslow tried to stay out of the way while we were decorating and was eyeing us suspiciously from his safe spot on the couch!
I've been trying to get back to my studio, but so far no luck. There's just too much other stuff to do these days. But when all the packages are mailed, the cookies are baked and the decorations are finished, I will paint again. In the meantime, though, I am thoroughly enjoying this holiday season and I hope you are, too! It's such a magical time...

P.S. Thank you so much for your heartfelt comments on my posts - they make me feel so good every time!!!

Saturday, December 12, 2009


When my dad visited, he brought with him a couple of gifts I want to show you (Danke, Papa!!). The first is a gorgeous stoneware pitcher from a small village in Germany, called Adendorf, that has a history of creating beautiful pottery. We both love pottery and next time we visit my family, we'll have to go see this place for ourselves.

My dad also brought us an issue of a German magazine called Landlust. A few years ago, he had a role in getting it started. It's about anything connected with living in the country and I love it! It has interesting articles, recipes, craft projects, gardening tips and even knitting patterns! Plus, it has a fresh and beautiful look! For all of you in Germany, you can take a look at it here.

A couple of days ago, I received a surprise in the mail from my dear blogging friend Dorthe, who lives in Bornholm, a Danish island. She sent me one of her gorgeous driftwood angels and an old map of Bornholm, because she knew that I vacationed there with my family when I was five. Thank you so much, Dorthe! She makes the most magical creations, so make sure you head over to her blog!
I promised Dorthe that I'd post a couple of photos from this vacation for her to see. Most of them were beach photos, but here are a couple that she might recognize. In the first one, I am the little girl on the right (I was five years old at the time). Next to me is the daughter of family friends. We were at the port either waiting for my aunt and uncle to come in on a ship or to see them off.
And here a photo with my mom. I remember that to be such a fun vacation. The weather was beautiful, the beaches white as snow, the water perfect, lots of laughing and I remember reading my first book out loud.

It was called Tausche Baeren Gegen Hund (Trading a Bear for a Dog) and I can still recite some of the lines. Can you still remember the first book you were able to read by yourself?