Thursday, September 30, 2010

Here Comes Autumn

The last day of September...

The past days have been pretty toasty here with temperatures topping 100, but today it's way more comfortable and even though it's still very much like summer, autumn is definitely on its way. Tomorrow starts my favorite month of the year - I simply love October with all its colorful abundance.

So here comes autumn - this week's theme at Tuesday Taggers. I'm a real sucker for pumpkins - hey, they're orange! - and of course I had to contribute something pumpkinish. I saw these pumpkins in the garden of a winery up in Mendocino County.

October also means pumpkin patch - oh, I can't wait! All the beautiful color this months gives out with full hands, and at its end there is the best holiday ever. Did I mention that I'm also a BIG fan of Halloween?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

What Do You Wish to Step into?

It’s Wishcasting Wednesday at Jamie Ridler Studios, and her question today is “What do you wish to step into?”

I have to admit, the very first thought that popped into my mind was “not into poop”.

Bison poop - the kind you find in Yellowstone all the time

This is so typical me. I don’t seem to be able to behave seriously, there are always these ridiculous or funny thoughts that just turn up and I more often than not blurt out loud. And feel ridiculous and stupid afterwards.

But when contemplating the question I realized that I wish to step into being who I am, be authentic. I want to be me with all my heart, enjoying my good sides and accepting the not so lovely parts of me. Yes, that includes accepting those “first ideas” without feeling stupid. I don’t want to pretend to be someone I am not. I want to be okay with my imperfect self. I do not want to apologize for myself all the time.

I just want to be me.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

My First Guest Post

Today is the first time that I am posting on someone else's blog. Marcie Scudder asked me whether I'd like to guest post at Vision and Verb, one of my very favorite blogs. This blog is "a collaboration of women of a certain age" and what you find there is simply stunning. Amazing photos accompanied by wonderful texts that I always enjoy reading and more often than not give me something to think about. It is an honor to guest post there.

Please stop at Vision and Verb, leave a comment if you like, and just look through this wonderful blog. You won't regret it.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Festival of Weirdness

Yesterday, on a really hot day, the third annual Handcar Regatta took place in our town.

I call it the Festival of Weirdness, providing rich and sweet candy for the eyes. Homemade handcars were racing down the old out-of-use railroad tracks, cheered on by the crowds, many of them dressed up in Victorian costumes or spreading the flair of colonial India. Which, by the way, was this year's theme.

I wish I could have taken more pictures. But the disadvantage of those crowds, fun as they were to watch, is that you seldom have enough time and space to snap a decent picture. The light was gruesome, too (hot, sunny, bright, dusty afternoon). But I still hope you will enjoy these pictures that show some of the "Victorian science fiction", as one visitor described the event.

Tomorrow I'll be guest posting at Vision and Verb, one of my favorite blogs! I hope you will come and visit.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Tuesday Challenges on Friday

The Tuesday challenges are still pretty new to me. They tend to turn into end-of-the-week challenges because I never succeed in finishing anything before Thursday. I have no clue how the other artists create all these wonderful tags and cards in such little time. I am a little bit envious... but I also like the process, and that just takes time.

So, the first challenge is for Tuesday Taggers. This week's theme is "It takes all sorts".

This project shows what I really like to do - use my photos to create cards. It is so much fun, the possibilities are endless and I just love to play around and see what I can create. I love to surround my photos with some artsy stuff.

The second challenge is for Tag Tuesday at Kard Krazy. The theme is "Banners". This is what I came up with:

Funny that both challenges resulted in an ocean theme for me. I do love the ocean, so it seems only right.

If you want to see the fantastic projects of the other wonderful artists, just stop by Tuesday Taggers and Kard Krazy.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Kelly Rae Made My Day

Guess what I found in my mailbox today? A small parcel from Kelly Rae. Oh my! I had thought that the items I had ordered from her shop would ship at a later date. What a lovely surprise! She simply made my day! The datebook is so beautiful with lovely quotes for each month, and she wrote a personal little sentiment on the first page. How lovely is that! The necklace is very cute - I love the mother/daughter theme. You can also see her postcard that she told us about in her Flying Lessons.

The entire day has been so nice so far. In the morning I went to Michaels - because another store that I actually wanted to visit was still closed. I don't shop at Micheals very often, but every now and then I stop by and just wander the aisles. Today rubber stamps were 40% off and they actually had a few very nice ones. Others were on clearance. Plus some nice little brads. I also found the Tim Holtz idea-ology paper pack which I really like.

All in all - some nice little surprises during a good day. I am so grateful.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wishcasting Wednesday

It's Wishcasting Wednesday over at Jamie Ridler Studios. I love this weekly "get together" of bloggers who wish for each other. This week Jamie asks: What do you wish for an abundance of?

There's a lot I'd like to have abundance of - time, creativity, money (would be handy), but what I'd like the most is an abundance of generosity. I wish to be more generous
- with my time, especially for my daughter
- with honest praise for others and myself
- with my husband - be more patient and not always dumb everything on him
- with myself in not being so critical
- in showing my weaknesses and vulnerability and not hide it behind a tough face.

WOYWW - Wednesday!

Hey WOYWWers, Happy Wednesday!

Thank you to  everybody who stopped by last week, and I’m sorry that I couldn’t get to each of you – I tried, but I had to give up when I came close to 100. I hope I can visit everyone this time, but I can’t promise!

So this week I have the usual mess on my desk. I’m almost done with my “Halloween Cats” class, just one more card to design and a tag as a “bonus” if there is time at the end of class. In order to announce my class on the organization’s website I’m going to take a picture of a few cards that I taught in previous Halloween classes. Enrollment is very low, so I’m thinking of what I can still do to advertise the class. If there are at least three people signed up I usually teach the class under minimum. So those Halloween cards you can see in the mess on my table are “old” cards that students really liked.

Hope everybody has a great WOYWW – and if you wonder what I’m talking about, just visit Julia’s blog!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Abundance at the End of Summer

The veggies were hanging heavy on their plants. It was time to harvest. And since I was planning a seafood stir-fry for tonight I went out to get the red (Maroni Red, Italian Bull Horn) and orange peppers (Tequila Sunrise, Sweet Banana). I couldn't believe how many were ready - and there was so much more! The English cucumber (English Slender 'n Tender) had patiently waited for several days now, and there were many ripe tomatoes to enjoy (Roma, Early Girl).

The old colander that I had found in a thrift store filled up quickly. What colors!!! I could almost taste the flavors - oh yummy! There's nothing better than a ripe tomato straight from its bush.

Don't you get hungry when you see this? I look forward to cooking tonight, get out the wok, chop the seafood and the veggies, prepare a delicious meal for my family. What's cooking at your home tonight?

UPDATE: This is what the veggies finally looked like in the seafood stir-fyr. It was very yummy.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Best Shot Monday - Happy Memories

Over the weekend I was looking through some older pictures, of my daughter's first years. All these pictures were taken as slides and scanned and transformed into digital over the past 12 months (about 13,000 slides all in all - a lot of work, as you can imagine). Since I haven't seen them too often when they still were in the slide format, I have forgotten about some of them.

I had such a blast looking through them. These were taken while we still lived in Germany and I suddenly remembered so many happy moments. This particular picture belongs to a series of my daughter playing at the fountain in the centre square of the little village where we lived. I love this shot so much that I decided to have it as my Best Shot Monday since I re-discovered it over the weekend.

If you want to see what other photographers have as their best shot, you can stop by Tracey Clark's wonderful blog. Always worth a visit!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Another Tag Challenge

I do love tag challenges - tags are so much fun to experiment and play around with. Louise's Tag Tuesday Weekly Challenge on her blog Kard Krazy features a different theme every week. This week's challenge is "school days". You can hop over to her blog to see more beautiful tags.

Creative Color Challenge Video

Louise Gale, host of August's Creative Color Challenge, has made a movie of the entries to the challenge - it's quite a sight! The movie is beautiful, and I'm very happy that the four pieces I submitted are featured there. If you want to see some beautiful artwork, have a look!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Art Walk Friday

"What is your favorite landscape genre?"

This was Rhonda's challenge for this week's Art Walk Friday. I have wanted to participate in this challenge for quite some time, but never really did (and please don't ask why - uncertainty? not feeling good enough? who knows...). This week, however, I decided to finally "throw" my photo in.

I love to take pictures of landscapes in not so ideal conditions. Fog is one of my favorite moods to shoot along - it's mysterious, magical and always changes (at least at the edges). I found that there are different kinds of fog - in Maine I experienced the fog as a veil that softly lays down; here on the West Coast the fog is more like a blanket that heavily covers everything beneath it. Its beauty appears when it starts to slowly lift and dance around.

Like here at my favorite lake. I had just dropped off the kids at school and wanted to go on a quick brisk walk. When I arrived in the parking lot I saw how beautiful the fog lingered among the trees and above the lake. Fortunately I had my small point-and-shoot camera with me (though I prefer my DSLR) and spent a wonderful creative hour shooting away happily.

Early Morning Walk

On Friday mornings, right after drop-off at school, my friend Jo (she's the one who gave me the ornamental oregano) and I walk her dog. It's a beautiful 3-mile-walk around a calm lake during which we often see lots of birds. Beside the geese and mallards we saw today, we also discovered a juvenile green heron

and a juvenile snipe

I love watching birds, and finding these two special ones really made my morning!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Halloween Diamonds

It seems that I'm sticking to the "Halloween Cats" theme this week since I'm currently designing my card-making class of the same name that will run in October.

When I checked what this week's challenge at the Tuesday Taggers will be, I found out its theme is "Diamonds are Forever". Now - how well do diamond shapes work with Halloween? They seem to be made for each other.

This is my contribution to the challenge:

Stamps I used are by Cherry Pie Art Stamps and Rusty Pickle.

I absolutely love the cat with a hat stamp by Rusty Pickle. Years ago they also had scrapbook paper with the same cat - you can see it here. I bought tons of it that time and saved it over the years. I'm still not very generous with it! Do you happen to have art supplies that you only use VERY sparingly, like favorite papers?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Almost Forgot WOYWW

Wow - since I had a more than weird day yesterday, I forgot about Julia's WOYWW... oh boy, so this will be a short one today!

Last week I only got around a few desks, I hope to visit more this week, but it might take right into the weekend.

In October I'll teach a Halloween card making class and I started to prepare for this. The theme is "Halloween Cats" and I just dumped all my stamps and papers that would fit this theme on my desk . I already designed the first card, the second is almost done... will show them after the class because I can't do that before!

Have a happy WOYWW day!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Best Shot Monday - Hollyhocks

I love hollyhocks. They are beautiful, tall flowers that come in amazing colors and seem to thrive on neglect (at least in my yard). They reseed and come up in all kind of places where you didn't really expect them to grow. They still look great after the rain.

This particular hollyhock was a real surprise for me since its color was so completely different from all the other hollyhocks I have in my yard. I was fascinated by its deep red, this absolutely amazing color.

You bet that I will keep those seeds!

If you want to know what Best Shot Monday is, just hop over to Tracey Clark's blog!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Tag Tuesday - Butterflies

I was looking for a new crafty challenge in blogworld, and finally found Louise's Tag Tuesday Weekly Challenges on her blog Kard Krazy. I've been rather late, but it seems to fit.

This week's theme is "butterflies". I sprayed a tag with Glimmer Mist while masking some butterflies that I had punched out. Three of those butterflies I also sprayed with Glimmer Mist, adhered them to the tag when they had dried and bend their wings to give them a 3-D look.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Just Escaped a Close Encounter

Saturday morning. It was still quiet, the house asleep.

The sun had just sent his first rays over the hill. I was still in my nighties, looking outside. I thought how beautiful the sunflowers looked in this early morning sunlight. I grabbed my camera, stepped outside and began to take pictures.

An incredible screaming distracted me. A scrub jay had landed on the fence and nagged like mad, hopping around restlessly and staring down to the ground, my flowerbed.

Did I mention that I wasn't wearing my glasses? No problem inside the house, but I can't really see well in the distance without them. I saw some movement among the flowers, heard the even louder screaming scrub jay and thought "maybe a young scrub jay is hurt down there and needs help".

So - out went the good Samaritan. Without her glasses.

I stepped into the flowerbed after having checked that no snake is curling up there (I'm terrified of snakes), just waiting for me, the innocent victim. I searched for a little bird and didn't see anything. No injured scrub jay. The big jay meanwhile had hopped onto the cherry tree (to my right) and was still nagging and screaming. So I decided to step to my right and look there.

And saw the bushy tail of a - skunk! A few feet away from my very own feet!

"I'm out of here" was my only thought before I jumped out of that flowerbed (not a graceful retreat). The skunk looked at me quizzically, he definitely didn't feel threatened by me. I'm pretty sure that he actually laughed about me! But he still decided to better leave the yard of this crazy woman who hops in and out of her flowerbeds.

So he made for the little hole at the bottom of the fence. I had the presence to grab my camera and tried to take a couple of pictures of the little guy, but all the settings were wrong - "morning sunny sunflower" settings just don't work for skunks in the shade of trees. The pictures turned out completely blurry - however, here is one because I just want to share this moment with you.

Only afterwards did I realize how close I was to a smelly encounter. Next time I'll make sure to reach out for my glasses BEFORE I go looking for any kind of wildlife in my backyard!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Wishcasting Wednesday

Through Gina's blog "Here and Now" I found Wishcasting Wednesday at Jamie Ridler Studios. Her question for today is "What do you wish for less of?"

I didn't have to think very long.

I wish for less self doubt and less of those negative voices in my head.

This has been my problem for a very long time - probably starting in my youth, and I'm still fighting it. I can see that I am gaining more confidence, but it's still a long way.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

First September WOYWW

It's time to take a peek at desks again - if you don't know what this is all about, just hop on over to the lovely Julia at Stamping Ground.

Actually there is nothing on my desk today. Well, not quite true, there is something, but I still don't want to show it. It's a little piece for the online baby shower for Kelly Rae Roberts. I hope I can show you more later.

Since I can't show you my desk, I thought I give you a view of my IKEA shelves that line one of my walls.

Not a very good picture as it turns out... Anyway, on the right you see all my scrapbooks, not all of them finished. I'm kind of a random scrapper and have a hard time to work on just one book at a time. To the left several small containers that hold buttons, brads, beads etc. The round basket with the lid holds my Native American stamps, but it is already bursting, so I need to find a different storage item for that. The Starbucks frappuccino bottles are waiting to get decorated (great for little gifts or favors; a few years ago I made bottles for the girls in my Girl Scout troop). Somerset magazines at the bottom, the white basket holds clear stamps and you can also see some acrylic paints. The house template I just used for last week's Tuesday Taggers' Challenge.

The left shelf - containers hold 12x12 Halloween and Fall papers, paper scraps, stickers and stuff, stamps, yarn, pens, inks. The painting of John Muir was done by my daughter for a school project. The paper bear head in the top left corner is a lantern that I made when my daughter went to toddler's group in Germany. On the evening of St. Martin's Day (Nov. 11) the kids in Germany walk with their lit lantern, singing songs and just having a good time. A very sweet tradition that I miss here in the States.

That's it! I hope to visit at least some of your desks today, otherwise tomorrow. I've heard that there are a lot of whales around these days and I'm thinking of driving out to the coast and have a look. Usually the whales are here from January to April, so this is quite unusual.

Have a happy WOYWW day!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Running a Mile

Her first meet in Cross Country is only a few days away, so Kaefer is practicing in the park, running a mile. Not in running shoes, however - those she forgot at the friend's house when she thought she'd run a mile with her yesterday.

Oh well - true determination even runs in converse shoes.

A House by the Sea

Recently I found the Tuesday Taggers. They have a weekly challenge, and since I was looking for a new project I decided to join. This week's theme was "house" - you could create any project that you liked as long as it features a house.

By participating in Louise Gales Creative Color Challenge I've started to love turquoise and sea greens and use them way more often now. This card was pretty easy: Glue down background paper onto 4x6 card. Paint sea with acrylic paints (I used laguna, aquamarine and white). Smear the same paints on a small piece of bubblewrap and stamp. Let dry. Cut house from cardboard. Adhere different papers and stamp them. Punch little cat and put into window. Stamp mermaid and color with Distress Ink (vintage photo, spiced marmalade, worn lipstick, wild honey, peeled paint, faded jeans). Adhere to house and house to card. Print out words and glue to card. Done. (Stamps used: Mermaid/rocks by Expressions in Ink; Starfish Document by Stampington & Company; Shell Trio Wording by Stamp-It)

If you want to see more of the Tuesday Taggers, you can check it out here.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

German Gourmet Saturday

Can you imagine spending several hours on the road just to have some nice breakfast and buy bread?

Well, this crazy family did.

As you know, we're from Germany. I spent more than forty years in that country before we moved to the States, and that means more than forty years of real bread.

Real awesome bread.

No French bread. No baguette. Dark bread, whole grains, kernel, rye and pumpernickel. Sunflower seeds, poppy seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds. Natural sourdough. If it had to be white bread, then we opted for ciabatta or focaccia (which are Italian breads). There are more than 200 kinds of bread available in Germany, and we offer the biggest variety of bread in the whole of Europe (and with that in mind, may I say in the world?).

Bread is the food that me miss the most here. You see, in Germany we have bread for breakfast, lunch and dinner. As a snack. When I pushed Kaefer in her stroller through Tübingen, where I come from, I would pop into a bakery and get her a pretzel (or Brezel as it is called in proper German) and she would happily chew on it. German Brezeln aren't hard, but soft. Perfect for toddlers who make a wonderful mess of them!

So when we heard of a great bakery that sells real German bread in a town a couple of hours south of where we live there weren't any questions asked. It was just "Let's go". We were desperate for B-R-E-A-D !

Today was the day. This is what we had for breakfast: Brezeln, Mohnstriezel and Bienenstich. And real German coffee (strong!).

Mohnstriezel (poppy seed)

Bienenstich (bee sting)

And this is the little Café of the German bakery (please note the pretzel decoration in the window):

And you know what? Everything tasted super yummy and very very AUTHENTIC ! Just like back home.

Not much bread here, you say? Yeah, that was step number two. Buying the bread. You're in for some real treats.

Do you see those pretzels? Real soft German Brezeln? Do you think they taste yummy?

And just in case you want a close-up of that flower thingy (seeded rolls), here it is:

This was heaven for us!

Conveniently enough, there is a German meat deli very close by (actually quite a lot of Germans live in that area - we met so many people from Germany today, and it was really nice to chat along in our native language). Now, you probably know that Germans like their meat, especially their sausages (how do 1,500 sausage varieties sound to you?) - preferably with a good beer -, and even though I am not a big meat person, every now and then I need my meat-and-sausage fix. So we went to that German meat deli, and let me tell you, when we had entered the parking lot of that little strip mall and left the car we just had to follow the smell. I had forgotten about that smell! I thought I would faint, it was so good.

The deli was PACKED. Good for us, so we had enough time to look around and decide about our purchase. And to CHAT. In GERMAN. Wow, what a treat. Just chatting along without thinking of the next word, desperately searching through your available vocabulary and wondering whether you used the right word. Just chatting along, using some slang and those typical German expressions that you can't translate into English. Wishing "Schönes Wochenende" (have a nice weekend) when we said good-bye to each other. And everybody said "This is just like home".

It was. Just like home.

We were served by the owner of the deli. A German himself (of course). We joked, we talked, we could even say how much of the different meats we wanted in GRAMS, not ounces. Wow, another treat! I still know better how much 100 grams of salami are than whatever much that same amount in ounces is.

This is what we brought home:

Clockwise from top right: German Bologna, Smoked Liverwurst, Rauchfleisch (smoked meat?) and Westphalian Ham - pepper and tomatoes are from my garden.

Fleischsalat (sausage salad)

Our dinner turned into a feast tonight. The only thing missing for an authentic German Abendbrot (dinner - it actually means "evening bread", Abend = evening, Brot = bread) is a glass of beer (I had that when we came home after horrible traffic that kept us on the road way longer than expected). We're wine people, and so we shared a bottle of good Californian red wine.

I really don't know why I put the cheese on the table. No one ate cheese this evening. We were carnivores today.

What a great dinner! But a good dinner is almost nothing without a good dessert, right? And a good dessert needs to have at least some chocolate, right? I mean, just a little bit, okay? The rest can be - like - marshmallow stuff? A little bit sticky? And not really healthy?

These are "chocolate kisses". A dome of marshmallow-like foam covered with dark chocolate. Very fragile. Unfortunately we couldn't get the real ones. But they were okay. And don't they look tempting?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A Gift From the Garden

A few days ago my friend brought me some branches of this beautiful plant from her garden. It's an ornamental oregano. You can put it in a vase without any water - yes, you read that right - and it will dry while remaining exactly the same way. Easy peasy.

I love these kinds of gifts. They are free, they're beautiful, personal, thoughtful and most of all, they come from the heart. Just thinking that my friend stepped outside, garden scissors in her hand, and snipped off these pretty twigs because she just knew how much I'd like them makes me feel all warm and cozy inside.

It's not only a gift from the garden, it's also a beautiful symbol of a wonderful friendship.