Sunday, November 30, 2014

Sunday Gratitude

I've been away from my blog this past week. To be honest, I suddenly found myself in panic mode - preparing for the holiday fair that I participated in yesterday and at the same time preparing food for the Thanksgiving dinner we were invited to.

There are many things for being grateful for during this busy week:

- The leaves are still colorful here and brighten even the greyest day. The colors really pop on a rainy day.
- We had three storms coming through the last few days that dumped a lot of rain in our corner. Everything smells fresh and clean. It is wonderful. I love to listen to the rain pattering onto the roof of our home. Such a peaceful sound.

- Despite the rain, I still see bees in my garden. There is always something blooming and the bees are busy even this late in the year.
- There are more and more birds coming to my feeders, and they share with the squirrels. Some mornings I counted five squirrels in my garden at the same time - I enjoy watching them despite the damage they can create.

- Color in my garden seems to be around in abundance - blue berries on the privet tree, red ones on the Heavenly Bamboo. Leaves that turn and some flowers that are still blooming no matter what.
- Before the rain started I transplanted some flowers from the front to the back garden. The deer are just a little bit too fond of my hollyhocks and always eat them to the ground when they have just developed some nice and juicy leaves (the deer probably think that I offer them a wonderful salad buffet). So I decided to transplant them into the safer backyard and hope they will take off here.
- We celebrated Thanksgiving with friends and their family. It was loud and cheerful, we laughed a lot and had a very good time. We felt welcome and embraced by this unconventional family. It was delightful.

- Bread is THE symbol of gratitude for me. I baked several loaves this week, two of them for the Thanksgiving dinner. Making bread, breaking bread.
- A quiet Black Friday. We didn't join the shopping crowd (except for my daughter who met with her friend in the afternoon to shop around a bit) and stayed home instead. I packed up for the fair, knitted and read.

- My daughter is the best company and wonderful helper on craft fairs. She went with me up to Ukiah to the Holiday Boutique hosted by the Girl Scouts. On the drive up there she mainly read (we left very early) and I enjoyed the beautiful morning - it was raining on and off and the fog was hanging low which I liked. Highway 101 passes some beautiful areas up here. Kaefer helped me setting up our booth, had some great display ideas, tried to do her math homework, talked to customers. There was a lady who sold cinnamon roasted almonds - they were still warm when we got ours. Kaefer and I happily munched along - we LOVE cinnamon roasted almonds!

- Today I just relaxed. I started making a few more journals this morning, but after that I just laid back, reading, browsing the Internet, watching the birds. I'm so happy to find little treasures in my garden, like these acorns (or what is left of them).

I am so thankful for all the goodness in my life. This list has become quite long. Ain't I a lucky woman?

How was your week?

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Sunday Gratitude

This week has gone by in high speed! It's Sunday evening, and I'm still wondering how this could happen so fast. Time sure flies when you're having fun - and I do have fun preparing for the holiday shows. I'm really excited about it, although the nervousness is increasing as well!

It's time for some gratitude for the past week. Here's my list:

I am grateful for

- time spent with friends, good talks and shared laughter. Spending time with them is never wasted time and feeds my soul.

- my daughter's quirkiness. So often she makes me laugh. Her ideas are wonderful and I love that she always tries to see the positive side of things. I can learn a lot from her.

- fall colors. Autumn hangs around for a long time in my corner of the world. Sometimes the colorful leaves are still on the trees in December.

- morning fog. So close to the Pacific Ocean we often have coastal fog in the morning and sometimes it hasn't burnt off by noon. I love how fog makes everything soft and disappearing gently. It's one of my favorite moods in photography.

- the rain that finally arrived here this past week. We actually had three storm systems following each other within a couple days and they were dumping quite some rain here. My garden looks happy as a clam except for the parts where the raccoons were digging up the ground while searching for grubs in the soil. I try to see the positive here (see above!) in so far as they are keeping the grub population in my garden under control.

- the birds and squirrels in my garden. There are lots of them; I have bird feeders hanging in my Photinia, and they're frequented both by the birds and the squirrels. But they also love to graze on the ground. Many of the birds are sitting in the Privet tree and feeding on its berries. I love to watch them; it is calming and peaceful.

Golden crowned sparrow

What are you grateful for today?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Friday Finds and Paint Party Friday

It finally started to rain here - such bliss!! One storm after the other are chasing through the state and they are all dumping quite some rain on the dried out ground. It is such a relief, and I hope that over the winter months there will be more rain so our reservoirs will fill up again.

While looking out of the window, I was amazed how beautiful my small Japanese maple in the backyard looks. In this grey and wet weather - and against the dark fence - the color of the leaves really pops. A wonderful find for this week.

Apart from that the week has been busy - in less than 10 days I'll have my first holiday fair of the season and I'm still in full creative mode. There are two new paintings:

 Snowman Family on 6x6 wood panel

Mixed media on 8x8 canvas board

I've also made a few more ornaments from the leftover redwood of our picket fence.

Christmas Cat and Christmas Owl

For the holiday boutique in Ukiah we were asked to donate one item for the silent auction. This little owl mixed media painting on a 5x5 canvas is mine.

I'm linking to both Friday Finds and Paint Party Friday - perhaps you'd like to check them out.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Dreamy Boats

Sometime in October I had planned to post this photo for Texture Tuesday, and then I completely forgot about it. I never posted it - so it will get its turn today.

Kim's preset "hazydazy" in LR and then layered with her texture "dustyrose" in multiply at 50%

I took the picture of these boats in the summer of 1989 while vacationing in France. I can't remember which river this was - I don't have good memories of this vacation and I only remember a very few places. I've also only kept a very few slides from that trip. For some reason I've kept these boats - and I'm glad I did.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Sunday Gratitude

In all the busyness of the past few weeks my feelings and thoughts of gratitude have fallen to the wayside a bit, something I do not like at all. For me it is important to show and express gratitude for the richness of my life, for the things that we often take for granted.

This is why I am writing a post about gratitude today, on this day of rest.

I am grateful for

- my family, the Geek and Kaefer, being in my life and making it so much richer every single day. Yes, we do fight from time to time, but we also laugh a lot together and enjoy being with each other. We love each other.
- my friends without whom my life would be so much duller and less fun. There aren't many people I call friends, but these few are close, kindred souls that I don't want to miss.
- writing my thoughts on my blog and receiving responses from YOU that I often need in order to go on and follow my path.
- the colors that brighten my world and feed my soul. Imagine a world in black and white - how sad would that be.
- books that I can escape into whenever I feel the need for that. I am thankful for all the wonderful writers who "kidnap" us into their made up world and lives of characters we come to love. A beautifully written piece of words can soothe my soul.
- our beautiful home that is warm and cozy. Since spring 2012 when we bought and moved into this house we have transformed it into a home that we love and that is truly ours.
- the food that we eat every day, the abundance of deliciousness. The wonderful smells that travel through our home when I cook dinner or bake bread.
- my garden, the feeling of dirt under my fingernails and the crumbling soil in the palm of my hand. Watching flowers, shrubs and trees taking off and changing the landscape within our beautiful redwood picket fence.

- teaching a mixed media class which once again showed me how much I love teaching - and I wonder why I don't do it more often.
- my workout classes that help me to stay in shape (though still not in the way I would want to) and give me the chance to literally dance off my anger and frustration.
- music. All kinds of music - classical music, meditation sounds, Native American inspired music, piano, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, the soundtrack to Lord of the Rings. The list is endless.
- hot chocolate. Now that the cooler season has definitely arrived, all of us enjoy a mug of hot chocolate in the late afternoon. It makes the dark and chilly time of the year warm and delightful.

This is just a glimpse of what I am grateful for. There is so much more. But this might just be the start to more grateful Sundays.

What are you grateful for today?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Put a Bird on it!

This week has been another creative one - it feels so good to create again. In two weeks I'll sell at my first holiday fair of the season, and I'm working like a crazy woman for that - painting wooden ornaments, knitting hats and scarves for wood snowmen, making journals, knitting small winter outfits for dolls, adhering photos to cards. There are thousands of things that still need to be done, and my list seems to get longer and longer.

Last Saturday I was supposed to teach a mixed media class, but it was cancelled due to low enrollment. However, one of the ladies who wanted to take the class called me and asked whether I would do a one-on-one class with her. I agreed and we met last Monday morning. It was such a wonderful class - more like a get together with a friend. She was a lovely lady, and we spent a few hours creating a bird canvas. A canvas board, actually.

I usually have a sample in class, but my students can create whatever they like, the sample is just a very loose guideline. I create along with them, because that is the best way to show some techniques. My bird turned out completely different from my sample (I'm still working on my sample, so I am not showing it here).

It's a happy bird - I felt happy that Monday morning, teaching my class. I only added a few things after the class, like the little rhinestones at the banner, and the bird's feet.

I'm joining Paint Party Friday, one of the most wonderful painting parties in blogland!

A Very Different Kind of Fence

You probably wonder what snowmen with hats and scarves are doing in a post about - good - fences?

Well - look closer.

Can you guess? This is leftover wood from the fence the Geek and I built in the spring. Beautiful, untreated redwood. It was sitting in our garden shed in all kinds of different sizes because I couldn't bring myself to throw it away. Some of the really small parts we threw in our fire pit on warm summer evenings. But the others are still holding out in the shed.

So I grabbed some of the smaller parts and made ornaments from them - as I showed you here. But what to do with the bigger parts?

It was so obvious - snowmen, of course. With hand knitted hats and scarves.

A few years ago Kaefer had asked me to knit a hat, scarf and leg warmers for her American Girl doll. Lucky for me I still had the pattern and found that the AG hats fit perfectly on my wooden snowmen. I got some skeins of colorful yarn and happily knitted along. The great thing about knitting these is that I can watch a movie while creating the hats and scarves.

The wood is untreated and I left the imperfections of the wood - I only primed it and then painted over it. The "personality" of the wood is still there.

Painting on the faces was fun, and I also added a few buttons. Good thing I have quite a lot of buttons! The snowmen are available in my Etsy shop.

But of course I will show you a "real" fence photo - an image of the fence where my snowmen come from, the "mother fence" if you will.... taken in the spring when I had all the wonderful poppies in my front garden (of course they are all gone, but I can already see some new seedlings!).

So - do my snowmen count as a good fence? I admit it's a bit unusual... still, I'm linking to Theresa's "Good Fences" where you can find a lot of real, honest fences!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Glory of Chinese Pistache

Last week we planted a Chinese Pistache in our front garden. I wanted to have a tree there that has some spectacular fall color. At our old house I had planted a Chinese Pistache that unfortunately only stated to change color the year before we moved away. All the autumns before that it stayed green and just lost its leaves. What a disappointment.

When I decided to try a Chinese Pistache again I avoided one of the mistakes I made with the first tree - I didn't buy and plant it in spring. Instead I waited until November when the color is the best here in my corner of the world. A friend of mine came over with her truck and we went to the tree farm where I found this pretty tree that was already on fire - hopefully a good sign for future falls. The farm had quite some Chinese Pistache that were still green and I made sure to stay away from them.

A couple days later the Geek and I planted the tree and it now adds some wonderful color to the front garden (yes, I still had my ghost pumpkin outside...).

Layered with "kk-appreciate" in soft light at 100%; texture removed from tree; copied and blended in multiply at 100%; layer adjustment on texture only

Further down the street stands a huge Chinese Pistache which is absolutely gorgeous at the moment. Compared to that, mine is a tiny baby.

I'm linking up to Kim's Texture Tuesday again.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

25 Years Ago the World Changed

It's been 25 years ago today that the Wall that divided my native country into West and East, into democracy and communism, came down. Peaceful, without a single shot. Unbelievable. A miracle.

Thinking of this day still makes me teary eyed. The emotions are still raw, after 25 years. This day will stay with me for the rest of my life.

The days and weeks before let to the events of this day - it was already a very unique atmosphere in the entire country, but I don't think that anyone had really thought that the Wall, so hated by many, would indeed fall. We had always hoped for that. And then it suddenly happened.

Over the next few days a long long line of "Trabis" (Trabant, an East German car) with East German residents crossed the border into West Berlin at Checkpoint Charlie... a first in our history.

This was the beginning of the end - of the Wall, of this dreadful border, of a communist Germany in the East. The end of the DDR (GDR). The beginning of a unified Germany. And pictures like this one belong to the past.

However, we will never forget the victims of this ugly construction.

For the 25th anniversary a Lichtgrenze (lights border) was erected all through Berlin, following the original path of the Berlin Wall. They were released this evening - and the German-German border is gone.

On August 13th, 2011 - 50 years after the Berlin Wall was built - I had written about it here. Check it out if you're interested.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

A Trio of Wooden Snowmen

Remember when we built a picket fence around the front and side of our house in the spring? Quite some wood was left over that I had piled in our shed. First I had no idea what to do with it, I only knew that I didn't want to throw away all these pieces of perfectly fine wood.

Then it came to me - ornaments. Of course!!! And since I like snowmen, it was pretty obvious that I would make snowmen ornaments.

I first put down a layer of gesso, adhered some torn pieces of scrapbook paper and then covered the background with light blue paint. The snowmen were painted after that and further embellished with glitter glue that shall represent the falling snow. A screw eye drilled on top for the hanger and I also added a sparkling ribbon.

The first "batch" is done and available in my Etsy shop. I think I will do some more with different colored backgrounds.

It was so much fun creating these little guys. Of course as true Northern Californian snowmen they are made of untreated redwood.

Are you making some ornaments for this year's holidays?

I am linking to Paint Party Friday, joining some wonderful and talented artists.

On Top of the Big Apple

My good fences this week come from high up in the sky - from the visitors' platform on the Empire State Building in New York. We visited New York in 1997 when the Geek was working in Allentown for a couple month. We met for 10 days over Easter in New York and spent a gorgeous time there. This was my first trip ever to the United States.

Everything was so easy at that time... no long lines because of security checks. You just waited in line to get on the elevator that would transport you to the top of this famous building in no time at all.

This "fence" of course is more of a barricade, to prevent suicidal people of jumping the fence and throw themselves down. Here's a detail:

It looks rather sharp and you certainly would think twice before attempting to get up and over there. The entire fence was curved as well.

Quite impressive, right?

Just one look down, please - one of my favorite views of this big city:

I'm linking to Theresa's "Good Fences". Please come and visit!