Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Living on my Worktable

Finally I'm emerging after this crazy weekend... I hadn't expected very much for my shop, but I was actually busy - what a lovely surprise!

How was your Thanksgiving? Ours was lovely - as every year, we celebrated with friends and had such a nice afternoon/evening together with lots of laughter. The turkeys (yes, we had two, one oven roasted and one barbecued) and sides were yummy, the dessert delicious and of course we had our wonderful pumpkintinis - no Thanksgiving without them!

But I didn't really want to write about Thanksgiving since I already did that in my last post. Today I want to show you what is on my worktable - not what I am working on, but who lives there as permanent residents.

First, there is this beautiful bird that I got from the amazing Kelly Thiel.

I have always loved Kelly's birds, but to call one my own is very special. This bird means so much to me - she is small and looks a tiny bit timid, at the same time she has this expression on her face that is full of courage, strength and power. And a sense of "I don't care what others think of me". Exactly what I need! I wish I could care less what others think of me - I'm already way better in this regard than a few years ago. I grew up with parents who always said "what shall the other people think" - is that really important? What I think of myself, how I see myself and what I want to achieve should be more important - otherwise we just get stuck in mediocreness (is that a word?) and will never be happy.

Trust in yourself - this is what Kelly wrote on one side, exactly the right message for me. So often I do not trust in myself, doubt myself, question what I'm doing. Too often I'm not letting my intuition guide my hand. I wish I worked more intuitive when I'm painting or just creating.

Look at this beautiful bird - who could not love her? I am forever thankful that she has found a home in my studio, on my worktable.

The other "resident" is this little buddha that Kaefer made in sixth grade:

Buddha with all his wisdom and calmness - another "virtue" I'd like to have. Okay, I've given up on the wisdom, but I still wish I was more calm. I'm getting better in telling myself that Rome wasn't built in seven days and that I can take it a bit easier and not do everything at the same time. I don't have to return a phone call or mail right NOW, I can actually wait until I have made the bed, done the dishes or eaten breakfast. Nothing will go up in fire. 

When the computer doesn't work the way I want him to (of course a computer is a HE!), I get restless and sometimes even shout at him, or at least curse like a fishwife (I apologize to all fishwives...). The Geek is the poor chap who gets it all from me, even though it really is not his fault (but he's a geek, so he should know!). I hate myself in those moments.

And my little girl sits there and creates Buddha's toes - just look at that. She is so focused when she works on her "stuff" (she loves to create with polymer clay).

So I need to learn more of this calm Buddha pose. Let go of worries and trust more in myself, and in the future. Sometimes I wonder how much I miss because I worry so much.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


November - a real autumn month, with the most beautiful colors in the year, sunny days, rainy days, foggy days, grey days.

And also with the most beautiful holiday we have - Thanksgiving. The day when we say thanks for all the blessings we have in our lives, eat and drink with family and/or friends, relax and take life slowly (except you work at Walmart, Kmart etc. where Thanksgiving obviously doesn't have any meaning at all).

It makes me sad that so many shops are open on Thanksgiving. Are we really such greedy and superficial people that we cannot live one day without shopping? I get Black Friday - after all I have a little online shop myself - but we also have the gift of Thanksgiving. The people who work at Walmart, Kmart, Target etc. - mostly women - want to spend a quiet Thanksgiving as well, want to relax with their families without thinking that they have to work in the store by 9:00 pm (Target) or 4:00 pm (Michaels) or the entire day (Walmart, Kmart). Seriously, I don't get it.

When we first came to the US the Geek loved the Black Friday deals. He got up between 4:00 and 5:00 am to stand in line at Best Buy while I just turned around in my warm bed and slept some more. When he came home and we finally set down for a late breakfast, he would tell the most hilarious stories of his morning, talk about the people he had met. It was always a good mood and people actually behaved. No one trampled on top of other people to get the best deal. Eventually the Geek lost interest in these early morning shopping hours, the thrill was gone for him and we all could sleep in. No more standing in line in the cold and rain.

Today he shops online, and now that I have my own online shop I, of course, join the frenzy. I have worked like a mad woman during the past days, getting my shop "Black Friday ready" and I often wandered whether it is really worth it. I actually don't think that small businesses like mine will "profit" from the shopping craziness of the next few days. However, Saturday is also Small Business Saturday, and I wanted to participate.

So I do have special Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals in my shop - get 25% off when you use the code THANKS2012 during checkout. Items within the US and to Canada ship for free. And if your purchase is $50.00 or more, you also receive a free 8x10 print of my painting "Gypsy" - this one:

But the question remains for me: Can you really sell handmade items at a discount? Do I really have to join in the big shopping frenzy? I feel very split about this.

Whatever you do during this weekend: I wish you a peaceful and relaxing Thanksgiving. I hope you can spend it with people you love. Eat, drink and be merry. Enjoy the gift we've got in Thanksgiving.

We will celebrate with friends of ours - we have done so for years. It's a loud and chaotic Thanksgiving, with  lots of laughter and a mix of German and English. When we sit down at the table, everybody says what s/he is grateful for. I am grateful for my family, that we have created a warm and loving home and that we have some wonderful friends.

What are you grateful for?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

This Past Week

Thanksgiving is just a few days away, a time not only to eat delicious food but also to think about what we're thankful for. Since I started a gratitude journal quite a while ago, I am so much more aware of what I am grateful for, how many blessings there are in my life. I have come to be thankful every day, and it feels good. I notice so much more, little things. And big things.

Take this past week, for example.

There was a gorgeous morning sky, right before the sun climbed over the hills, that I could see from my bedroom window.

On the way to the neighborhood market with Kaefer, we saw this beautiful passion flower.

Autumn in Sonoma County is just breath taking with all its colors and grapes in the vineyards.

When I went to Trader Joe's, all the wonderful Christmas goodies had arrived! We have been waiting for the Lebkuchen (gingerbread) from Germany.

Speaking of Germany, I also received a lovingly wrapped package from Germany, from my blogging buddy Cynnie who is an American living in Bavaria.

I had won a giveaway on her blog, some awesome German art magazines, and before sending them to me she asked me what my favorite chocolate is. I said "Milka" and thought that she might include one bar of it - however, she put in six of them!!! Six! Just imagine my joy. And I have been good - so far I only ate one of them, with the help of my family.

Last but not least, there is Anja. Just like myself, Anja is from Germany, but lives in California, in my town.

I had met her last year when we went to our first Stammtisch - a bi-weekly get-together of Germans living here - and I liked her from the very first moment. Last Thursday, the Stammtisch took place at her house (we take turns who is hosting) and we had so much fun together. We really are on the same wavelength and have a very similar kind of humor. The day after she sent me such a kind message via Facebook that truly made my day.

I am really blessed with some wonderful friends.

Friday, November 16, 2012

More Ornaments

Last week I told you that I was working on circle ornaments, and I actually finished them this week. Different from the painted angels, but they were fun to make as well.

For this year I am done with Christmas ornaments. I'm currently working on journals and hope I can list a few in my Etsy store soon. I also hope to continue my big painting and get back to my art journal.

This is for Paint Party Friday - short and sweet today. Happy PPF everyone!!!

Monday, November 12, 2012

A Visit to Coppola Winery

Francis Ford Coppola, director of movies like "The Godfather" and "Apocalypse Now", is also a wine maker, and may I say so, a darn good one. Two of our friends work at the winery, and yesterday, when Kaefer was staying with a friend, the Geek and I went to spend a few hours "in the vineyards". I love wine, especially red wine, and an excuse for a little wine tasting always works for me.

 The winery, formerly called "Rosso e Bianco", is situated in lovely Alexander Valley, near Geyserville.

The driveway

The winery turned out to be a photographer's paradise. After we had a wonderful wine tasting with our friends, we walked around the grounds of the winery, enjoying the good mood. It was crowded, but both the Geek and I were completely "in the zone" taking pictures that we couldn't bother less.

The former small winery was completely remodeled and turned into a family-friendly facility in 2010. The architecture is quite fascinating with those two pyramid towers (this is one of them). There is a huge pool and bocce courts - good summer entertainment.

Inside is a restaurant which is supposed to be VERY good, the tasting room and showrooms where you can stroll through. It is pure eye-candy. See for yourself.

The wine on the left - the Director's Cut Zinfandel - is my favorite wine from this winery. But every wine I tasted here is excellent. I couldn't find a single one that I didn't like.

Coppola collaborates with production designer Dean Tavoularis, whom he first met during the production of "The Godfather". They have worked creatively together ever since - Tavoularis worked on the interior and exterior design of this winery -, and he also designed some of the bottle labels of the Francis Coppola Reserve wines - like this one, the Syrah. This is my favorite wine label (and the wine is delicious as well):

Isn't this some great inspiration? Guess what will be in my art journal pretty soon?

And talking of the "The Godfather", this is the desk and the chair you can see in the movie:

Coppola's Oscars and the Berlinale Camera are also displayed in this winery.

Another display we really liked was Coppola's Tucker - one of the very few that were built. Coppola actually owns two of them. A fascinating car, especially the cyclops eye headlight.
At the end of our stay we even saw Coppola and George Lucas (you know, "Star Wars" and "Indiana Jones") - they just mingled with the crowd and I really liked that no one bothered them.

Here's a last view from the winery over Alexander Valley in beautiful Sonoma County.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Painted Angels

After I had nothing to show for either Paint Party Friday nor Studio JRU last week, I am glad that I worked on some angel ornaments this week.

They're paper mache stars that you can get in almost every craft supply store like Michaels. There are also other shapes available like circles and hearts. I simply gessoed them, attached some sheet music or book pages, painted them with acrylic paints and then painted the angels, also with acrylic paints. I did something similar last year, and when I compare those ornaments with these I can see big differences. It's nice to see how my paintings developed, but that I also have my own style, or at least a style I feel comfortable with.

Since I had so much fun with my angels I created three of them. I had made a rough template of an angel which I used in each of these and then did all the individual detail work like faces and hair. They're available in my Etsy store.

I'm currently working on circle ornaments, and I hope I can show them to you next week.

Are you working on Christmas "stuff"?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Cards for the Holidays


Those of you who look at "My Shop" icon on my sidebar may have noticed that I've started listing handmade Christmas cards in my Etsy shop.
Actually, they're Christmas card sets. Some have six cards, some eight, there is even a set of 12 cards.

Some come with matching gift tags, like these polar bears...

...and this snowman set

I have to admit that I am not a big Christmas card writer. Usually I send a card and a "letter of the year" to family in Germany, and that's about it.

However, that doesn't mean that I don't like Christmas cards. I do. I love the tradition of sending a card for this special holiday and let loved ones know that they are in our thoughts and hearts. I simply love that we think of other people.

There are cards for bird lovers - and how can you not love these red cardinals!

Or perhaps you prefer a little Christmas cat.

It's always good to remember WHY we celebrate Christmas.

Remember that I once showed you the altered photo of three candles and asked you whether I should turn that into a Christmas card? Well, I did!

Tell me - do you send cards for the holidays?

Friday, November 2, 2012

An Ocean, Not a Mermaid

For the longest time Kaefer had no idea what to be for Halloween. Then finally, on the Saturday before Halloween, with only four more days to go, she decided to be the ocean.

So off we went to the fabric and craft store to buy fabric, a fisherman's net and a bag of shells. On to Home Depot to get some serious rope.

After that she was busy until the morning of Halloween, hot gluing the shells to the net and the rope, making earrings and the hair accessory. She found an old skirt that we bought when she was around ten years old (and it still fits - sort of) and effectively draped the shimmering fabric around her. It needed some safety pins and I had to knot her into the net, but in the end, it all came together beautifully and she turned into a pretty merm... uh, ocean.

She used some ribbon out of my stash for making the hair clip and then hot glued the seastar on top of it.

She loves to make earrings, and these seastars (again from my stash) were created quickly.

A close-up of the fisherman's net with all the shells she glued on.

I think she did a really good job!