Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year

To all of you, my wonderful blogger buddies: Have a happy 2011! I hope that the new year will be a good year for you with many wonderful moments of joy and fulfillment. Stay healthy and live life to the fullest.

We just came back from 11 days in the desert - wonderful, exciting days when we visited places we love and explored new sites. Our hope to find snow was finally fulfilled on the almost last day of our trip in Utah. But even though the snow was rare over Christmas, we had a very relaxing time that we enjoyed as a family - and I never got near the laptop, not even once.

I hope I can tell you more about the trip in the days to come, I'd really like to share it with you. I'm still sorting through my photos, I took almost 2000 pictures and many of them are just crap, at least in my opinion. But you will get to see some of them.

One of the nicest things of coming home is going through the pile of mail (you know, the "real" stuff,  with envelopes and stamps...). Among them, I received two items I'd love to share with you.

The first one is an ornament handmade by my blogger friend Rhonda at Roban Studio. She had shown these ornaments on her blog sometime before Christmas and I thought how cute they were - but I had never thought that she would actually send one to me! What a lovely and thoughtful surprise. Thank you so much, Rhonda, the little nutcracker will have a home here for years to come.

The second one is ornament #3 of Louise Gale's Creative Color Challenge Ornament Swap, and this one is from Regina. I absolutely love this little scene, it looks very peaceful. Thank you very much, Regina, this is so beautiful.

Please come back tomorrow - I'm going to have my very first giveaway on the very first day of the new year.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Taking a Break

This year that is so quickly approaching its end has been a very exciting year for me. So much has changed, so many new opportunities opened up, so many new connections that fill my heart with warmth and joy. Many of you are fellow flyers and might have been gone through similar experiences - the fear, the courage, the incredible excitement, the doubts, the encouragement.

Starting my blog was one of the big changes this year and this involves you. I still can remember the excitement about the very first comment I got. By commenting you have so often given me encouragement, lifted me up when I was a bit down, and very often put a broad smile on my face and sometimes even let me laugh out loud (something I really love to do). Before, I had never thought that people I only know through the Internet could become close. Today, I know better.

I am so grateful for you.

To all of you - have a peaceful Christmas, and if you don't celebrate Christmas I hope that the spirit of the season touches your heart. May 2011 be a good, healthy and joyful year for you.

This year has also been quite exhausting. Therefore, I have decided to take a break from my blog (and most probably from the computer) until the end of the year. Most likely you will not hear from me, but rest assured that I will think of you.

I look forward to "meeting" all of you again in blogland in the new year.

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Visit by My Neighbor

Mary, my neighbor across the street, came by this evening with a bag of Christmas presents and a whole lot of books under her arms. We usually look after each other, and when she and her husband are out of town I take care of their two cats and they in turn look after our mail when we're gone. We usually chat when we see each other, share an occasional dinner and they came with us to look at the house which we were thinking of buying.

So she came over right after work. She wanted us to open our present here and now, warning us that it wasn't new but she thought we would like it. And OMG - we do like it!!!

She bought these elves years ago at Neiman-Marcus. She always enjoyed them, but now she wanted us to have them, hoping that we will enjoy them for years to come. I'm pretty sure that we will do exactly that. But how sweet is this? I was almost speechless (doesn't happen often, I can assure you) about her lovely generosity. 
This is my favorite elf:

Then she gave us the books - old books that she had owned for years, but now feels that they need a new home and thought that our home would be perfect for them. These are the books:

Now what kind of a treasure is this? These books are from the 70's and early 80's and gorgeous inside. You learn about how Christmas is celebrated in different countries, their traditions, music and recipes. How could I not like it?

These are a few pages in the book about Christmas in Germany:

"Silent Night" and the history of how the song originated.
(if you click on the picture it will be enlarged and you can actually read the story)

Instructions for crafts projects

German Christmas art

And of course there are some recipes included.

This is an incredible gift. I will treasure this for years to come, I'm completely sure of it. It's not just the gift, it's the giving from the heart of my neighbor, her thinking of us and how much we would appreciate this wonderful sign of friendship. I am so touched and deeply grateful for the wonderful neighborhood I'm living in. We are some lucky people and really felt the spirit of the season tonight.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

WeekWord: Christmas

After having skipped several WeekWords, "Christmas" is a word that I just couldn't pass no matter how busy I am. There are currently so many memories about the time of Advent and Christmas going through my head, several of them I wrote about over at Vision and Verb and also here on my blog.

When I looked through my old scanned slides I found this really bad out-of-focus picture of the "Pauper-singen" in Tübingen, the little medieval University town in Southwest Germany I had lived in for twenty years before I moved to the States.

The Paupersingen (paupers singing) is a tradition that originated in the Middle Ages. "pauper" is a Latin word and means poor, and in this case it refers to poor students of Latin who paid part of their school fee by singing during church services and at funerals. During Advent they wandered through the narrow lanes of the town, wearing their black scholar cloaks and singing in front of every house, hoping for some donations.

Today it's the children choirs who start out at different parts of Tübingen and slowly, with several stops in between, walk to the market square, all the way singing the old Christmas carols. They all meet at the huge Christmas tree where all of them together sing for another half hour or so. The donations today go to some charity of their choice.

If you want to know what other bloggers wrote for "Christmas" you can find a list over at Allie's blog.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Two days ago I took pictures of leaves - I loved their colors and how they stood out. It doesn't really look like December... these photos are just as they came out of the camera.

And my favorite:

This is what I see when I look out of my - dirty - kitchen window:

Sorry for the bad quality. I love these little guys, they are so much fun to watch.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A Fabulous Sunset

Today was a gorgeous day, and the cream on top was a fabulous sunset that I could see right from my front door. The colors in winter seem to be so much more intense. It looked as if the sky was on fire.

This is what I saw when I looked Southwest. However, when I turned my head to the Southeast I saw this:

I love these eucalyptus trees, although they are quite messy trees. Their smell, however, is unique and unmistakable.

To the west, the sky was all pink and purple. It quite took my breath away.

And this is how all this was reflected in the birdbath:

Friday, December 10, 2010

A New Arrival

A few days ago a package came in the mail for me. No. 2 in the Creative Color Challenge Ornament Swap - a beautiful ornament ball in a pretty green (unfortunately the photo doesn't do the color justice) with golden glitter swirls - so so pretty. I immediately hung it in our tree where it looks like it belongs there.

Thank you so much, Sandy, this beautiful ornament will be with us for many more Christmas to come.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Hello WOYWWers, while most of you probably still see snow when looking out of the window, I see only gray (or is it grey?) - it's raining cats and dogs here. But who cares about that when we want to take a ride around the world and look at other people's work desks - if you want to join the ride, you can find a looong list over at Julia's blog.

The Geek told me I shouldn't always show you only a small part of my table but the whole complete mess - so here it is:

This is what my table usually looks like - utter chaos. The floor doesn't look much better to be honest. This needs a serious clean-up - I'll probably start on Friday. Tonight I'm teaching my Christmas tags class (yay!!!) and tomorrow I will spend with my friend at her work table (aka dinner table) crafting and creating.

I hope you all have a wonderful WOYWW and try to visit as many of you as possible. I haven't done so over the past few weeks, but for today I have scheduled WOYWW time since everything for the class is already packed and ready to go. That gives me some extra time.

See you in a bit...!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Advent Weekend

I haven't been to my blog very often the past week. Two posts, and that's about it. It wasn't intended this way, though... but my body had different ideas than my mind. I had a horrible cough for some weeks and finally went to the doctor who prescribed a powerful mixture of anti-histamine and codeine that fortunately started to kick in quickly. On the downside, however, it made me awfully tired, so I concentrated the bit of energy I had on the most urgent and important things. But now I'm back and I'm happy about it.

Advent has definitely arrived in our family. On the first Advent weekend Kaefer put up the Christmas village in front of our fireplace

while I had fun arranging our traditional Advent decoration.

The arch with the candles on top is a so-called Schwibbogen. In the front you can see a Christmas pyramid. The heat of the candles get the wings started and the little singers turn around the church in the middle. These things are tricky! They usually work very well in the beginning, but eventually they don't turn anymore and the wings start smoldering - you can see that this already happened to our pyramid. Those of you who have read about my childhood advent certainly think now that we play a lot with fire... All these little pieces are handmade of wood in the Erzgebirge, the ore-mountain region in the eastern part of Germany. While you can buy them everywhere now, it was more difficult to get them before the wall came down. We got some of our little angels and singers from a family in former East Germany whom we regularly sent parcels.

These are the angels of the ore-mountain art. We have a small orchestra by now and I love these little figurines very much. They are authentic German traditional art.

Last Saturday the Geek put up the Christmas Lights on our house. Now, this is the very first time that we actually decorate our house this way. The Geek had found these lights dirt dirt cheap after last Christmas (I think he paid $0.37 for each strand of lights, and that includes tax!), they are LED (otherwise he wouldn't have bought them) and since we don't have any proper fixings to put them up, the Geek, inventive guy that he is, fastened them with paper clips. Yes, you read that right, paper clips. Not the cheap ones, but the good old ones from Manufactum (oh praise to German "engineering").

It worked!

And this is the decoration at our doorstep:

We have a Fall-Advent here. I was first thinking of spray painting the pumpkins in gold, but rather have the natural look. After all, this is coastal NorCal.

Yesterday we finally got our Christmas tree. It was a rainy day, so we didn't go to cut our own tree but chose from the many many trees of a locally owned business.

Kaefer is the one in our family who decorates the tree.

She went to the ice arena afterwards and witnessed the tree lighting ceremony with Snoopy and Woodstock, skating for four hours with her friends. She absolutely loves it and we are grateful that we have this wonderful old-fashioned ice arena in our town.

While my little one did her freezing exercise I prepared the St. Nick's gifts for my neighbors. Today is Nikolaus as we call it in Germany and the kids find one of their shoes filled with sweets, nuts and oranges in the morning. I introduced this tradition to my neighborhood in 2001 in a slightly different way - they find a little bag of German sweets on their front porch in the morning of December 6th. This year I also included a Starbucks frappuccino bottle that I decorated and filled with cocoa powder and mini marshmallows.

Some of our neighbors play Nikolaus for us - this is what I found at my doorstep this morning (the boot belongs to Kaefer and was filled by her loving parents).

I am so thankful for my wonderful neighbors! I love them!

This has turned into a pretty long post, I hope you're not cross-eyed! I just wanted to share this with you. You are such wonderful blogger friends!

Happy St. Nick's to you!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Vision and Verb: Advent

It happens every other Saturday - I'm over at Vision and Verb. Today I'm writing about our Advent traditions in Germany. I would love you to come over and take a peak.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

OMG - it's Wednesday

Hello WOYWWers, I hope all of you feel well on this cold day, and those who don't I wish that you'll be better real soon. I can't believe that we're already in the last month of the year - we just celebrated Thanksgiving in this corner of the world and now it's "Christmassy" wherever you look. On the radio they only play Christmas music to make sure that everybody is sick of it when Christmas comes around. How sad.

Of course it's also Christmas on my work table - I'm still working on the "Christmas tags" class that I am supposed to teach next Wednesday. Will it happen? I may know by the end of this week.

Louise Gale's Creative Color Challenge Ornament Swap is in full swing. I've mailed the ornaments I created, so I can show you a picture of the finished angels:

The picture turned out a bit bluish, they're not quite that color.

I also received my first ornament of this swap, it arrived yesterday and was created by Peggy in Canada. It's a little Tuckaway Heart. You can tuck a little note under the ribbon (as she did for me) and put the heart somewhere where someone special can find it. I absolutely love this idea!

If you want to see more work spaces around the world and find out what other creative souls are working on you can hop over to Julia's blog and find a long long list. I'll start my "world tour" right now!