Monday, October 18, 2021

T is for KniTTing


Buying yarn is like buying art supplies and paper - it's all so beautiful and you do want to have it all. If only I had more hands to work on several projects simultaneously.

Knitting has become a very important activity in my daily life. I do it every day - sometimes I start out in the morning, sometimes I only do it while watching a movie, most often I do it in the afternoon, either in my garden or in the living room. There is always a project on my needles and dozens more in my mind that I want to do.

My dominant knitting project is socks - warm, soft, cozy socks that are the bestseller in my Etsy shop

Every now and then I knit socks for myself (I wish I did it more often). I got this pattern book last year and the sock patterns in it are fantastic. I chose one that was quite time consuming, but it was worth every single stitch.

The leftover yarn I use to knit up baby socks and cat ornaments.

I also love to knit hats. The one with the birds is a favorite of mine. It is made with merino wool and therefore quite warm, but thin enough for an evening at the beach in the summer. The Cookie Monster and Big Bird hats I made for the two little girls of a friend. They were a fast and fun project. The girls also wear the pumpkin hat.

Of course my favorite person to knit for is Kaefer. I made a summer sweater for her birthday. I love this particular yarn because the company plants a tree for each skein that is sold. With this sweater three more trees were planted. While I was knitting this sweater I constantly worried whether it would fit. I do know my daughter's measurements, but hand knitted sweaters can be tricky.

She sent me a photo that put an end to my worries.

While I knit I always have something to drink by my side - and this is my ticket to join the T gang, so kindly hosted by Elizabeth. Most often my drink is either water or a refreshing juice like this pineapple-hibiscus cooler.

But sometimes it is a glass of cool and dry rosé.


Friday, October 15, 2021

Autumn Walk


The last couple days have been gorgeous fall days, sunny and warm but not hot. Perfect for having a walk along the North shore of a small lake in the vicinity of "my" lake.

In order to get to the North shore trail I crossed the dam. I saw a dad teaching his little son how to fish while others looked quite comfortable doing their own fishing. I wonder whether this guy caught anything or this was just his way of meditation.

The trail is one of those that I could hike along for hours. 

It offered lots of shade, but also many views of the lake. The birds were busy in the bushes. I heard Northern Flickers up in the trees, the Canada geese on the water (they are so noisy), but the loudest were the Red-winged Blackbirds that were merrily chatting along. It was quite the concert!

I was quite concerned to see so much Pampas grass (Cortaderia selloana) like in the picture above. It is native to South America, but it has become invasive throughout North America. Unfortunately it can displace native plants and destroy their habitats. We have high amounts of Pampas grass along the slopes at the coast. It's worrying that it has "settled" here as well and I wish the park service would act and remove it before it takes over more of the area. It does look pretty though.

Some parts of the trail were quite rough and rocky.

Of course I was pleased to see crooked trees. The trunk of the Buckeye, a California native, was covered with carved-in letters, but it was also fascinating to see how the tree heals itself. 

Towards the end of the lake there were more and more cattails (Typha). I do like these plants, but they can also be problematic because, although being a native plant they do have the ability to crowd out other native species. It's a rather aggressive spreader.

I was super excited to see a Great Blue Heron behind the cattails and this was the only time I regretted not to have taken my big camera with me (sorry for the bad photo).

When I reached the end of the lake I decided not to do the loop back but go back the same way. This part is less crowded and I eventually found a bench where I could sit, listen to the birds and write in my journal. 

Monday, October 11, 2021

T is for Totally Al Fresco



One of my dreams has always been to have friends over and sit with them at a long table in the shade of a big tree. This dream was nurtured by many French movies where people always congregate in someone's beautiful but artfully messy garden behind a big old French house with shutters on the windows and huge trees casting their shadows on wide lawns. Sunlight was filtered through the rustling leaves of the trees. People sitting at the long tables seem carefree, eating the most delicious food (it's France after all) and drinking wine. Of course there were loaves of freshly baked baguette (I remember one French movie in which Romy Schneider comes out of a boulangerie and she immediately bites into the baguette - oh heaven!) and baskets overflowing with fresh fruit. Above all there was this air of Mediterranean lightness.

I thought I would never be able to achieve this dream. 

But then I thought, why not?

There is a big tree in my garden.

It's a privet, so it's quite messy. But it's loved by the birds and it gives great shade and therefore I just take it with all its messiness. Under the tree is the sad, totally dried up remains of the lawn that used to be there (that I never watered in the nine years we have been living in this house since I never wanted a lawn in the first place). It's the perfect place to set up a table or two, chairs and invite friends over for a meal al fresco.

Even though we're having an exceptional drought, I was still able to pick some flowers from my garden and put together a little bouquet as a centerpiece. This was the only decoration I used and it worked well.

I had invited the students of my German class. Every summer we get together for something typical German - either food or drink -, but of course, last year we had to skip. Everybody turned up this summer; it was the first time that we all saw each other again in person since March 2020 when we changed our class to online learning. It was wonderful to see everyone again - and yes, we had this feeling of lightness, joy and laughter.

Everybody had brought something to eat and I had made a German Erdbeerbowle ("drunk strawberries"), a typical summer party drink in my native country. This, of course, is my contribution for Elizabeth's "drink post" - thank you so much for hosting!

Prost! - as we say in German.

Friday, October 8, 2021

Autumn Blessings

 Autumn - the most beautiful season in my opinion. Therefore, the current challenge at Try it on Tuesday, "Autumn Blessings" was perfect for me.

I have a box labelled "Fall" that contains all of my autumn themed stamps and embellishments. I haven't bought any new stamps or embellishments or papers for ages and was just digging through my old stuff. No new images or add-ons, all of these cards are made with whatever was available. Oldies but goldies.

"Autumn is a second spring"

I cut the file folder card with my Coluzzle out of patterned cardstock (Scenic Route), attached the stamped pumpkin (Stampendous) and embellished with brown ribbon, a pumpkin brad and a trianlge shaped paper clip. I don't know who made the stamp with the beautiful quote by Albert Camus.

"Autumn Pears"

Again I used the same Coluzzle template to cut a different file folder shape out of Bazzill cardstock.  I still have some glossy paper that I made with alcohol inks years ago that I cut and attached to metallic cardstock. The pears (A Stamp in the Hand) were stamped with green Stazon ink. Maple leaves were punched out of metallic paper and the tiny paper clip added as a final touch.


Yellow, olive green and ochre cardstock were matted on top of each other (with the yellow as the card base). Another alcohol ink paper piece was stamped with a cornucopia and a text stamp (Hero Arts). Two maple leaves, punched out of the alcohol ink paper, were added as well as the word "bountiful" (Hero Arts).

"Turning Leaves"

A super simple card! Different pieces of patterned (Scenic Route) and solid cardstock were mounted on top of each other, the top one with the autumn tree (Inkadinkado) stamped with Kaleidacolor. I cut two circles from leftover bits of cardstock and stamped the top one with "turning leaves" (Hero Arts). Finally, a maple leaf brad - done.


The base of the card is Bazzill cardstock, topped with scrapbook paper that I randomly stamped with the leafy twig (Magenta). The oval was stamped with autumn themed words (Hero Arts), I punched two holes to pull the ribbon through and added an oak leaf die-cut.

"Autumn Greetings" - my favorite.

This card is based on olive green Bazzill cardstock. I cut out squares from an old dictionary and "painted" them with stamp pads. Using bubble wrap I stamped dots with orange acrylic paint and stamped a row of colorful leaves on the bottom. This bare tree is one of my favorite stamps (PSX), I use it all the time. "Autumn Greetings" (Northwoods Rubber Stamps) appear on the left.

If you're still here - thanks for your patience and looking at my cards. There are so many creative works with this theme that you can see here.

Monday, October 4, 2021

T is for Too Much Fun with Filters


Sometimes I like to play around with built-in filters in photo processing programs. Usually I work with my photos in Lightroom and sometimes in Photoshop. I even have a basic version of Lightroom on my phone. But sometimes I'm just a bit lazy and simply like to see how much a photo is changed when I apply a filter.

The above photo I took in the summer while we were in Bandon, Oregon. This was the view from our balcony which meant that we could see the sunset from here if the weather was cooperative (which it only was once or twice). This is a very mediocre photo, but it has a quiet mood which I like. I was curious - what would happen if I applied one (or more) of the built-in filters on my phone?

The first filter I applied is "Afterglow".

It enhanced the sunset vibe of the image, pulling all the magentas and purples and saturating them in full force. While I like it, I also think it's the kind of photos we see everywhere. I also think it's unfortunate that the colors are only in the sky and not reflected in the water.

"Luminous" was the filter that I used next.

Now this was a lot better and more balanced. It resembles the mood of the evening, the not-so-perfect weather with clouds and subtle colors. I could see this on the cover of a mystery novel "Murder by the Sea" where the days would be windy and often gray with only an occasional presence of the sun. Have you read the books of Elly Griffiths' Ruth Galloway series? The setting is Norfolk, a part of England I know well and love. It can get quite moody there, and this is what this photo reminds me of (and next to the Pacific Ocean I like the North Sea best, so there). If you like mystery novels tied in with some archaeology, the Ruth Galloway series is for you (it's a good idea to read the books in order, starting with "The Crossing Places").

Back to the photo - I tried some more filters, none of which I liked, until the very last one - "Stormy".

This is my favorite one. I like the dark mood with the deep colors. You could almost think it's not the sun in the sky, but a full moon. Why not? The cover for a spy story maybe? Or another mystery novel? What do you think?

Which one is your favorite? 

Wait - isn't this a T Tuesday post that is hosted every week by the lovely Elizabeth? Of course it is! So, last Friday was the Geek's birthday. Whoever has a birthday in our family can decide whether they want to get out for dinner or what they want to have if we're staying home. The Geek opted for staying home and he wanted steak - so that's what I cooked, a Bloody Mary steak. I also baked focaccia, and our drink was a glass of wonderful Zinfandel from one of our favorite wineries.