Tuesday, May 31, 2011

WOYWW 104 - The Anniversary

Hello WOYWWers, so this is it! The long awaited and anticipated second anniversary of  WOYWW, What's on your workdesk Wednesday, hosted every week by the lovely Julia over at Stamping Ground. Yes, indeed, this has been going on for two years now and there are quite a lot of creative people who have joined in, and every Wednesday promises a fun journey around the globe.

I'm working on my art journal again. Recently I've been turning to it again and again for a very simple reason - I'm currently taking Christy Tomlinson's "She Had Three Hearts" art journal class, and just like her "The She Art Workshop" did, this class inspires me a lot. Whenever I watch Christy's really good and fun videos I feel my fingers itching, ready to mess around in my art journal. For a pretty long time I was a bit stuck, but now I am full of ideas. It feels darn good.

If you're interested how last Wednesday's art journal page turned out, just click here.

So - my PiF is ready to get mailed to the next participant on the list whose name has a * - I really love this idea and I enjoyed creating my PiF with WOYWW on my mind. Happy special WOYWW everybody!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Made in Germany 11

We came upon this abandoned building while driving around the beautiful countryside in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, the most northeastern state in Germany. It looked a lot more cheerful in the evening sun with its red brick, but it was the only building within wide meadows with wildflowers and old trees. It made such a sad and forlorn impression on me, and in order to show this I altered it heavily in Photoshop Elements to make it real somber. I was fascinated by this building, it reminded me a lot of my very early childhood that I spent in the North of Germany (but in the West part of the country). I imagine what it once was used for - perhaps, just like when I was little, as a barn for the cows. The doors would be open, but inside it would be warm, the warmth coming from the cows who were contently munching hay, and every now and then you'd hear a soft "moo". Swallows would fly in and out, feeding their young ones in the nests they had built right under the roof.

Do you have something German to share? A special memory, story, book, food, photo? Leave your URL in the comments and we come and visit.


Saturday, May 28, 2011

Purple and Green

Purple is not necessarily my color, but I love green - therefore, I was a bit torn with the weekly challenge at Inspiration Avenue. And since this week was the last week of the school year AND I have started a new online course last Monday, it was quickly sent to the backburner because there was so much else to do. Every now and then I remembered it just to send it out of my mind as quickly as possible. Silently I decided to skip this week's challenge.

While visiting the wonderful artists who participate in this week's Paint Party Friday I came upon Stephanie Corder's take on purple and green - and suddenly, inspiration hit me. I took out my watercolor crayons to create a background in my little sketchbook, saw the stamped owl lying on my table and grabbed it, quickly drew up the tree with Pitt pens - it was just play, nothing really serious, but it ended up in this little owl scene.

I've discovered that "just playing" works very well for me. I don't really worry about what I will end up with and just enjoy the process. It is very liberating to banish any images out of my head and just see what will happen instead. If I envision a certain image I am ALWAYS disappointed about how the real image turns out which only leads to frustration and discouragement. So I try to play - it doesn't always work, but I'm getting better at it.

What about you - do you always have an image in your head before you start creating?

Friday, May 27, 2011

Paint Party Friday 11

I'm finally working on my art journal again. I hadn't touched it for quite a while except to gesso some pages. But two days ago I just sat down and put some acrylic paint on a page and today it's almost done - I just need to do some journaling. I used the heavy body acrylics again, I love those, and what I especially like about them is that it is so easy to add some texture to the paint. This time I simply pressed some bubble wrap into the wet paint and like the texture that I got. So easy.

There are more great works of art to see at Paint Party Friday - go and treat yourself to some wonderful bloghop.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

California Poppies

I love California poppies. They just scream out "CALIFORNIA" to me.

I love them in masses, and I also love them as a single flower in their fresh, happy orange.
They lift my mood and make me feel good.

 Which flower makes YOU happy?


Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Hello WOYWWers, the last WOYWW before the anniversary!! Woohoo! Are you excited about next week?

This week I'm working on my art journal again. I've neglected it for quite a while, but am back now. I'm gessoing pages so that they're ready when I want to create a bit, and I've started this background with craft paint (orange) and heavy body acrylics (teal). I've also started another 5x5 canvas that is sitting on top of my modpodge jar.

If you want to know how the owl canvas turned out that I started last week, you can see it here.

The WOYWW's home is Julia's blog Stamping Ground where you can find a list of all participants - take a look and then visit all the other crafty people around the globe. It's a great journey.

Monday, May 23, 2011

A German Newspaper

The Geek brought me a German newspaper today - one of his colleagues had been in Germany and since he knows that I love to read this paper he bought one for me.

Actually, it's not just a German newspaper - it's my FAVORITE German newspaper. It's a weekly with excellent articles. One of the founding editors of the paper was former German chancellor Helmut Schmidt, a social democrat; another one was Marion Gräfin Dönhoff, one of the most important publicists in West Germany after the war whom I was lucky enough to meet personally in 1980. She was one of the "great women" with a beautiful attitude and standing.

Although the paper is from May 5th, I will enjoy reading it. The articles are always interesting and clever and, very important, so very well written. I usually go online to read this paper, but nothing beats to have the actual paper in my hand, to hear the soft rustling and to smell this typical newspaper scent.

Am I old fashioned or what? I guess I am.

Simple pleasures.


Made in Germany 10 - Medieval Houses

Medieval houses in Tübingen, where I lived before we moved to the States. This is in the centre of the town, right across from the big Gothic church. I like how these houses seem to lean on each other, sighing under their age. On the inside, floors are often a bit crooked and the houses "talk", have their own special sounds. However, the apartments inside are beautiful, with a lot of flair and charm.

Do you have something German to share? A special memory, story, book, food, photo? Leave your URL in the comments and we come and visit.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Feeding the owlets

When we went to the owls yesterday evening, we were lucky to witness how Mama Owl feeds her children. She suddenly flew over to the nest and came back carrying something with her feet - food for the owlets. She quickly started feeding the young ones.

While we were watching, we heard some people saying how gross this was. I really don't know what their problem was - this isn't gross, this is nature - a mom feeding her kids. Yes, they eat other animals. They need meat for their survival. This is not gross. It's called survival.

However, if you think you cannot see how an owl is feeding a hawk to her owlets, please stop reading here.

Mama Owl brought something for her babies to eat of which we first saw only the feet and weren't quite sure what it was. We guess it was a young hawk.

She started feeding owlet #1 by pulling parts from the dead animal and giving it to the baby bit by bit.

Can you see how she is putting the food into the owlet's mouth?

After she was done feeding owlet #1 she flew over where owlet #2 was sitting, patiently waiting, and started feeding it.

It was fascinating to watch and learn more about owl behavior. After their dinner they didn't do much except for perching on their branches. The evening before, the owlets showed us that they can already fly very short distances - from one tree to another. They won't be around for very much longer I think.

Kaefer was happy drawing the owls in her sketchbook.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Inspiration Avenue: Tropical

This week's theme at Inspiration Avenue  is "tropical" and I immediately thought of fish. For me fish are a symbol for joyful play (don't really know why) - so I just covered a 5x5 canvas (seems to be my favorite size at the moment) with some acrylic paints and punched and cut out fish - voilá! I just played around and had a lot of fun!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Fabric Owl - Paint Party Friday

Well, I guess it had to happen - after all my visits to the family of Great Horned Owls I was inspired to do something artsy about them. So I started a small 5x5 canvas, covering it with acrylic paints and a tree. My mind was set to have a fabric owl on that canvas - this was a great excuse to go and get some fat quarters (no, I'm not a quilter, I can't even sew). I guess fat quarters make a fat owl - this one is rather round...(she probably had a lot of mice to eat).

Now my question is - how do I do the finish? Usually I just cover the entire canvas with a layer of gel medium, but I have no idea whether I can put that on top of fabric. Can anyone tell me, please? Or shall I just leave it as is?

This is my entry for Paint Party Friday which is one of my blogging highlights in the week - please visit the other talented artists, there is so much amazing work to see. It is a wonderful artful journey.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Owls Through the Spotting Scope

We bought a spotting scope.

We had often thought about doing it - while watching wolves in Yellowstone, grizzlies in Glacier and moose in Alaska. Watching wildlife is one of our favorite pastimes on our travels. It's not just the thrill of observing these wild animals in their natural habitat, but connecting with other people who share the same passion. If we see someone with a spotting scope we usually stop and ask what they're watching. And usually they let you look through their scope - because you simply want to share the excitement. So it really was only a matter of time until we finally would buy one ourselves.

The owls were the final kick in the butt. While we went up to Mendocino, we went to a store called Out of this World where, among other things, you can buy spotting scopes. They are all lined up at the big windows, directed to the ocean and the cliffs, so you can try them out right there and then. The Geek - never one to make fast decisions - took a couple of hours to look through all the scopes and test them, until we finally made a decision (good thing the owner, James Blackstock, is a very patient person).

And you know what? He didn't like it. We took it to the owls last week and the first three photos here were actually taken through that scope. However, he didn't like that the viewing quality noticeably decreased with fading light and he wanted one with stronger "light power". So the following Sunday - last Sunday - the Geek and I went up to Mendo again while Kaefer stayed with a friend, and exchanged the scope. The one we have now, a Nikon, makes us very very happy. So it was worth the extra trip (I know, we could have shipped it, but I wanted to go into that independent bookstore again!).

The quality of this scope is amazing. And even better, with a point-and-shoot camera you can take gorgeous photos through the spotting scope. The photos you see here I took this evening through the scope - I love the result. And I want to share this with you since I know that there are many among you who followed "my" owls with me and want to know how they are doing.

They're doing great. Both owlets were sitting on a branch high up in a redwood tree, cuddling up. The light of the setting sun was warm and golden. So enjoy these photos - and if you have time, please let me know what you think.

My personal favorite.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


So, we're getting closer and closer to the long anticipated second anniversary of WOYWW where the creative world spends the day sailing around the globe and looking at other creative souls' desks. And all this thanks to the wonderful Julia of Stamping Ground who consistently makes this blog hop possible every Wednesday. Julia, you rock!

My mojo had gone out the door for quite a while. I hadn't been very creative - I was either working out in the garden or I spent considerable time with the owls. As some of you might know, the "fallen" owlet had been released back to the site, and it's doing well. Last time I saw them on Saturday, and both owlets were cuddling on a branch with the mom close to them. The family really is reunited. I am so glad about that.

Yesterday, though, I was really frustrated. For one, the bad weather has returned - rain and cold, I actually had to switch on the heater because the house was so cold. And I'm NOT living in Minnesota, no, this is "sunny" California! Huh! That didn't really anything good to my mood and I was feeling useless, had this "I'm not good enough" mood - it was highly unpleasant. Then I grabbed my art journal and started to play around with my water colors - and that actually helped!!!

So I got out a small canvas, 5x5, and some acrylics.

And what is missing here? Yes, you got that right - an owl! I'm thinking of creating the owl with fabric, I have some nice fat quarters that I'm going to cut up for that. Sooner or later I had to start creating owls after spending so much time with the owl family.

Oh - and I made an owl book today - uploaded my owl photos and made a photo book at Shutterfly for my Dad's birthday.

I think my mojo is back.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Made in Germany 9 - Lake Constance

The Bodensee - or Lake Constance as it is known in the English language.
Some also call it "the Swabian Sea" - das schwäbische Meer.

It's the setting in many poems and novels.

The Bodensee is a huge lake in the South of Germany and it borders three countries - Germany, Switzerland and Austria. Bregenz in Austria hosts the famous "Bregenzer Festspiele" where the stage is actually built on the water.

It's a lively tourist area with old towns like Lindau and Meersburg (my personal favorite), the "fruit basket" of the country and it also produces some really great wine. The lake is home to some wonderful fish that make delicious meals.

The Bodensee looks calm in this picture, taken from the Birnau, a church/monastery close to Meersburg. However, it can be very angry and wild where boats get lost in the fog and people who are foolish enough to venture out on the water in weather like that die by drowning or just disappear. On really good days you can see the Alps in the distance - in this picture you get an idea of that.

It was a two hours drive away from my home when I still lived in Germany. I loved to go there, it was like feeding my soul. It still is one of my favorite places.

If you have anything German - a photo, a story, a memory, food - please share it with us by leaving a link in the comments.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Owl Family Reunited

A surprise was waiting for me when I went to check on the Great Horned Owls yesterday evening, and of course I wanted to inform you about that at once, but unfortunately, Blogger was down for a very long time - the "fallen" owlet that had been taken to the Bird Rescue Center last week's Wednesday was back!!! I had thought that they would release it when it was much bigger, but I guess that it was worth a try to reunite it with his family. Thus, it can learn all the life skills it will need to survive from its mom.

It was sitting in this tree and was obviously quite tired - and hungry, I think. It was released the night before and it seems that Mama Owl hadn't fed it yet. I was a bit worried that its parents would not accept it back to the family. Here's a look through our spotting scope:

Yep, with a good point-and-shoot camera you can take decent pictures through a spotting scope! We let a woman with her iPhone take a picture this way and that one turned out nice as well. So if you ever have a chance to do that, give it a try.

Mama Owl and the other owlet were still perching on the eucalyptus tree, their "home tree".

With the half moon behind the tree I thought it was worth a shot, even though it didn't turn out very well. But moon and owls just go together, don't they?

This morning I returned to see how the rescue owlet was doing. I was hoping that Mama Owl would take it in again.

I had a hard time finding the owls except for the dad who was sitting in his usual spot. Then I discovered Mama Owl and one of the owlets who turned out to be the bigger one, not the rescued one.  That one I spotted a little bit later high up in a redwood tree. It was hopping around, jumping from branch to branch, spreading its wings - and then it lost its balance... oh dear... was there another drama unfolding?

It was hanging upside down, flapping its wings until it lost its grip and trundled down - to the next branch where it flipped and sat upright again. Thank heaven! It's not that easy to fall down a redwood tree because of all its branches that are in the way - inconvenient for us photographers, but a life-safer for owls. I prefer it that way.

The owlet finally moved closer to the trunk of the tree where it seemed to settle down - and shortly after that Mama Owl came over and perched nearby, only three feet away. So she does care for her lost baby. It was good to see that.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Hello WOYWWers, it's 101, only three more weeks to the anniversary and the PiF. I can't wait...

Nothing to show you this week what's on my work desk since I'm mainly working in the garden, watching owls and preparing the last of my German lessons that I will teach tonight. After that I'm done with teaching for the season until October. I'm ready for a break!

Last Thursday I taught the "Tag It" class and these are the tags we made that evening. I actually had six tags, but somehow one has disappeared and since I didn't take a picture of it before class I cannot show you that one.

The "warm-up tag", the owl tag, of course, was inspired by the wonderful owl family I'm currently following. Last Sunday, while in Mendocino for Mother's Day, we bought a spotting scope and now it's even more fun to view the little owlet and its parents. If you're interested to see pictures of the owl family - they're Great Horned owls - there are several posts of them below. For the seastar tag I used a watercolor crayon - I love the ones by Caran d'Ache. This technique was completely new for the participants, and I'm always happy when I can teach them something they haven't tried before.

Here are two pictures that show what it looks like during those classes - the creative chaos!

If you're interested how the canvas turned out that I showed last WOYWW, "the girl who loved dogs" - you can find the finished project here.

If you actually want to see real work desks full of creativity, hop on over to Julia's blog who has an entire list of wonderful creative people and enjoy your visit to them.

Mother's Day Trip to Mendocino

On Mother's Day we went up to Mendocino, one of our favorite places along the North Coast. It's just a two hours drive from our home through the mountains on windy roads - the drive alone is very scenic.

Mendocino is a quirky artsy little town right on the headlands - when you come from the south along Highway 1 you see this row of houses - Main Street -  lined up on the cliffs. We were extremely lucky with the weather - it was sunny though windy and not really warm, but pleasant. It was almost perfect for some exploring.

First we had a delicious breakfast in this beautiful building, the MacCallum House Inn. The big whale made out of driftwood lives in their front garden.

I like its big fat grin.

Mendocino has many windmills, water towers and beautiful gardens...

...and driftwood benches.

Wouldn't it be nice to just sit here and watch the world go by?

Did I mention the gardens?

Wandering the streets of Mendocino you can find beautiful little stores and galleries.

This store sells unique clothes and handmade accessories and jewelry.

 The Ark has been in this gallery forever - I absolutely adore the little extra boat with the skunks! The artist even thought of the ladybugs.

My favorite independent bookstore.

More gardens...

Those white fences are typical for Mendocino.

Beautiful views wherever you look.

Then you go out to the headlands, but perhaps avoiding the (few) beaches, at least at high tide.

The headlands...

the beaches with all the driftwood...

the view...

This is the view of Mendocino sitting on the cliffs. It's spectacular.

Wouldn't it be wonderful to live like this!

And then we made our way back home on scenic Highway 1 along the coast. I simply love the Northern California coast in all its wildness and roughness.

But the most wonderful thing that day I got from Kaefer - this:

She had painted it for me especially for this day.

I love her so much.