Thursday, October 31, 2013

Do Not Let Your Heart Be Troubled

This is one of my favorite quotes by Galadriel in J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Fellowship of the Ring", the first part of his trilogy "The Lord of the Rings". Later she goes on, "And let not your heart be sad, though night must follow noon, and already our evening draweth nigh." Such a beautiful language - like elves talk.

We are a LOTR family - everyone has his or her favorites. Kaefer likes Galadriel, Arwen and Legolas; the Geek loves Arwen (of course); and I adore Aragorn, Eowyn and Sam. We quote parts of the book (or the movie) all the time and enjoy "speaking Gollum" - Hobbitses and pocketses. Precious.

It came as no surprise that Kaefer dressed up as Galadriel this Halloween. She sewed the cloak herself (she needed 6½ yards of fabric for that) and the Geek made the head jewelry out of copper wire. I made comments...

Here you can see the entire cloak. If you like you can look at the "real" Galadriel (aka Cate Blanchett) and compare (I'm biased here, so don't ask my opinion.  

"May it be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out."

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Textured Wine Country

Wine country is so beautiful in the fall. The colors are intense, warm and rich, and a drive through the vineyards is eye candy at the moment. No big surprise that I chose a vineyard photo for today's Texture Tuesday.

In this photo I used two of Kim's textures, "kk_appreciate" in multiply blending mode at 86% and "kim klassenpumpkingrunge in soft light at 62%. A few levels and saturation adjustments and I got what I wanted.

The Geek and I toured our wine country a week ago and I wanted to show some of the photos here - I will post them soon. Until then, I hope you enjoy this image.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Getting Our Pumpkins

One of the October traditions we have adopted since living in the States is a visit to the pumpkin patch. I had thought that Kaefer might be a bit too old for that, but no - she came with us and had a wonderful time at the dairy farm that we discovered this fall, being like a little kid again.

It was a very low key pumpkin patch compared to some others which offer a wide variety of activities to families. This one had a few animals (goats and cows) that you could visit and pet, a jumpy house and a "sandbox" filled with organic wheat which seemed to be the biggest attraction. Beside the field of pumpkins of course.

This pumpkin patch was also different since it not only offered the typical jack-o-lantern pumpkins, but all kinds of different pumpkins as well. They were grown right there and most of them were still on the vine.

 One "thing" I always love at a pumpkin patch - beside my favorite color - is watching the kids. These little girls were adorable while they ran through the field, looking for the perfect pumpkin.

This toddler was irresistibly cute!!

And as you can see, this includes my own "little" girl.

Did I mention that she was like a little kid again?

Posing as the Pumpkin Lady Liberty

What about you? Do you visit a pumpkin patch in October?

I am linking up to Mandarin Orange Monday.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Think Pink

Another Free & Easy edition of Kim Klassen's Texture Tuesday - and my contribution to this week's challenge at Inspiration Avenue, where the theme is "pink" since October is Breast Cancer Awareness month.

While processing this photo of one of my last cosmos - a volunteer - I used Kim's texture "kk_annabelle" in soft light at 71% and her texture "golden" in soft light at 50%. "Golden" is my favorite of Kim's textures, I use it VERY often. I like the way it softens up a photo without really changing much.

As I said, this cosmos is a volunteer. It suddenly grew out of a plant that I got from Jo's garden, a geum. The geum didn't make it, but instead this cosmos appeared. It is huge and I love the full pink color. With the dew drops on the petals it looks so pretty. The flower looks very fragile, but it stands up to the winds - an appropriate symbol to Inspiration Avenue's theme.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Anything Halloweeny

Inspiration Avenue's challenge is right down my alley - anything Halloween, oh how I love it. I remember when we moved here I didn't know much about Halloween since we didn't celebrate it in Germany at that time (I've heard that it has become more popular over the past few years). However, it very quickly became one of my favorite holidays and, what's more, the holiday I love to create for the most.

The card on top is my favorite one because I like its (harmless) spookiness and the funny expression of the skulls that always makes me laugh.

This little cat is part of a stamp set by Rusty Pickle, a company that unfortunately no longer exists. In their seven years of existence they offered great scrapbook paper and fun stamps. I have seldom used a Halloween stamp as often as this little cat. These are little notecards that can be used as lunckbox notes, thank you notes, little gift tags, Halloween treats etc.

Ghosts in a tree - another favorite. The ghosts are actually punched - I found this gorgeous punch years ago when I was still working in a scrapbook store, before the economy forced us to close shop. The wonderful tree stamp is by PSX, another company that does not exist anymore. Sigh...

Little Halloween Cat - sold!

Back to Rusty Pickle - do you recognize this little cat? Yes, they also had it on a scrapbook paper - doesn't it look super cute? Just in case you haven't noticed, I really like this little cat.

This cute ghost stamp is by Savvy Stamps - and it seems that this company still exists! For this card I used the soot technique. You take a piece of glossy paper and move it closely over the flame of a candle, so that the flame just touches the surface of the paper (you have to be careful not to set the paper on fire as I did several times!). Thus the soot settles on the paper. Then you impress the dry stamp into the soot (clean the stamp immediately afterwards) and use a fixative so that the image doesn't smear. It's a fun technique and perfect for these ghoulish greetings.

Halloween Vintage Tags - sold!

You certainly have seen the fun vintage Halloween images. Well, I used them to create Halloween tags with them. Each tag looks different, and that is what I like about them the most. I'm also a real fan of these vintage images, they're cute and some of them downright adorable (like the cats).

If you want to see more photos of these cards and tags, just click on the link beneath them to see more detailed shots. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Baking a Traditional German Apple Streusel

It was the Geek's birthday at the beginning of the month. When I asked him what kind of cake he wants he said "a real German Apfelstreuselkuchen" (apple crumble pie). So I baked one for him.

When I posted the top picture on my Facebook page I received quite some requests for the recipe. Since I thought that some of you might like to try it as well, I translated it - however, it is still in metric.

What you'll need:

for the dough:
250 g flour
1 tbsp baking powder
100 g sugar
1 package vanilla sugar (you can find Dr. Oetker brand in Cost Plus)
1 egg
1 egg yolk
100 g butter

bread crumbs

for the filling:
5 big apples (I used Honeycrisp and just took as many as I needed to cover the dough)
juice of half a lemon
2 tbsp brown raw sugar
½ tsp cinnamon

for the streusel/crumbs:
120 g butter, melted
150 g flour
130 g sugar
3 pinches cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease a springform and sprinkle with bread crumbs. Knead a dough using the first seven ingredients. Spread it in the springform, leaving a small edge at the sides.

Peel the apples, remove core and cut in slices. Mix with lemon juice, sugar and cinnamon.

Spread the apple slices narrowly on top of the dough (sorry, I forgot to take a picture of this)

Knead the streusel/crumbs using the melted, cooled down butter, flour, sugar and cinnamon, and spread them on top of the apples.

Bake at 400°F for about 1 hour.

And then - enjoy it! Either warm with vanilla ice cream or - as we did - cool with real whipping cream (not the stuff out of the spray bottle).

Monday, October 14, 2013

Texture Tuesday on a Monday

It's been a while since I joined Kim Klassen at Texture Tuesday. I'm having a bit of a hard time keeping up with blogging at the moment - I really hope that will change very soon again!

Here's my contribution - another image from the National Heirloom Expo, "The Blue Jar".

The original photo really wasn't anything to rave about - too dark. But I liked the simplicity of it and that's why I chose it.

Here's the recipe:
- after a levels adjustment, I blended the image with Kim's texture "kk_appreciate" in linear burn at 50%; brushed away the texture from the blue jar
- copied it and blended in soft light at 100%; brushed away the texture form the jar
- added Kim's texture "chamomile", soft light at 75%
- after a hue/saturation adjustment I added a photo of mine and blended it in soft light at 60%, again brushing it away from the jar. The photo is a close up of the seeds in the head of a sunflower and you can see them mainly in the right half of the image.

To see more spectacular photos hop over to Kim's Texture Tuesday.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Faces of Washington

Don't worry, this is NOT a rant about the government shutdown!

It's time for my contribution to Inspiration Avenue's weekly challenge, and this week's theme is "faces". Since I haven't painted faces for a very long time, I can't show you anything here. So I had to think of a different approach to this challenge - and I came up with this.

Abraham Lincoln is probably one of the most famous faces in Washington, one of the most visited (not at the moment, though - but we didn't want to go there, right?). But there are also other faces on display - faces full of pain, sorrow, terror and heroism.

Like the men fighting in the Korean War.

The men of Iwo Jima

Not even faces anymore - just names, ten thousands of names on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

The guards who honor the fallen soldiers who don't have faces and no names either - the unknown soldier.

And the woman who helped finding missing soldiers, giving a face to a name.

After all this gloom, there are also other faces. Faces of hope, but where the gloom is still visible. This dad who with his two sons makes music on buckets in the streets of Washington. Despite the rain they attracted big crowds with their rhythms that were so different from their environment at the National Mall.

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Norwegian Family of my Teens

When I was in my teens I enjoyed reading books by the Norwegian writer Berte Bratt. Her books were for young girls between roughly the age of 12 and 17, and I loved almost all of them. I would start reading a new novel by her and I wouldn’t stop until the end. These stories were my treasure, the world I disappeared into...

If you want to read more, please go to Vision and Verb where it is my turn today to write. I see you there!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

El Dia de los Muertos

El Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), a Mexican holiday that lasts for two days (November 1 and 2), is this week's challenge over at Inspiration Avenue. During these two days, people pay their respect to their dead family members and friends. They visit the cemeteries, place food on the graves, make skulls and altars. I personally like this idea of including the members of your family who cannot be with you any longer and remember them in a festive way by celebrating.

I chose these ten tags for the occasion. I have this coffin template that I sized down for the "inside" tag. I cut the tags from black and orange cardstock. The grave tombs are a punch by Martha Stewart that embosses at the same time (RIP). The other images are stamps that I used.

Coffin shaped tags available in my Etsy shop

Thursday, October 3, 2013


When we went to the beach for the coastal clean up a few weeks ago, there were, of course, a lot of seagulls. They have quite different personalities - some of them watch you from a safe distance, others completely ignore you and some are quite bold and come rather close, probably in the hope for some food.

They are such common birds (at least at the ocean...), but somehow I do like them, their noisy and sassy behavior. Some of them are real bullies, whereas others seem to display some kind of humor. It's quite interesting to watch.

I loved to see this one taking off - can you see the little footprints in the sand? Ah, to be able to spread your wings and sail above the waves of the ocean!