Friday, November 23, 2012

dream, shine, be the change

new cloud pillows in my studio, soon available in my shop

a favorite collage hanging near my sewing machine

Be the change
a quote I love: "You must be the change 
you wish to see in the world."  Mahatma Gandhi

Have a great weekend! 

Monday, November 19, 2012

November musings

It's damp and foggy and gray. It's been several days since the sun peeked out. Can you believe November is already more than half over? 
I have some autumn flowers and evergreens in my window boxes.
I think it is always so endearing to see a familiar kitty face looking in from the outside in the window! This is about as close as Shadow and Spooky will get together, Spooky is not at all amused by Shadow. We are having some relationship issues regarding who is the alpha cat in our house these days...
We planted an apple tree last Sunday. The weather is pretty mild but most people are wearing sweaters, scarves and jackets. My son just doesn't want to accept that summer is over! Don't worry, this boy has a great immune system.
Until there are snowflakes, he'll be out there blowing bubbles!
My daughter made another one of her amazing vegan apple pies! I love it when she bakes. The whole house is fragrant with a warm wave of apples, cinnamon, and spices!
We've been taking turns making the house smell delicious. I made a batch of pumpkin-apple spice jam. The orange color really brightens up these dark days! I added nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice and cloves and the jam is super yummy!
For the most part this month I've been very busy sewing away for a stand I'm doing at a local Christmas market in a few weeks. I don't know if I have enough items, or too many, and what will be in store for me. So many unknowns. Very scary! So I am just trying to channel that energy into creating the best things I can make. I don't think the Christmas market will have too much of a response as it is a rather small town. I am just looking forward to the new challenge and experience. I am a shy, introverted person and this is pretty new terrain. You can keep your fingers crossed for me!
I am "just a tiny bit!" in the mood to decorate for Christmas already! I think that is a result of working on my Christmas market project. I can not wait to dress this twig wreath up with red and white loveliness. To keep my mind on the season we're in, my kids and I collected the prettiest leaves we could find and pressed them.  My son picked out this bronze colored candle (I would have never bought it but it is quite nice for autumn). So we do have a pretty centerpiece to enjoy on the table until Advent begins. 
I have also decided it is time for another big sale at my etsy shop so please pop over to see!
"There is no such thing in anyone's life as an unimportant day". - Alexander Woolcott

Wishing you a wonderful day! 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

children's felt art

My children like to wander into my studio when I'm working and see what I'm doing. Often my youngest son wants to "help" me or make something for himself. Recently I had purchased a stack of felt which was out on my cutting table and like me, he was immediately charmed and inspired by material's softness and bright rainbow colors.

I asked him if he wanted to make a felt picture and he did, so I had him think of an idea and then make some sketches on paper. He drew a truck and cut it out of the paper, and then I helped him cut it out of the felt using his paper template as a guide.
We brainstormed about ideas for his picture and started cutting out elements free-hand. He wanted trees and a street and a house and a sun, and very importantly, a street light. I suggested the mushroom and the birds and he liked that. He laid everything out how it should be (the trees sideways as he said it was very windy) and then I stitched it all together with the sewing machine.

The proudest moment for the small artist was hanging this next to his desk! He loves it.
This is a project you can easily translate into endless ideas. Let your child draw a simple picture of what he or she likes and try to reproduce it using felt in colors that your child selects. Putting the finished art in a frame would be nice if your child isn't impatient like mine!

I think cutting out the letters of a child's name in felt and then sewing the letters on to a plain background would look really adorable, too, especially in a nice frame. 

Your sewing needle will get a bit dull from the felt so my tip is to reserve a different sewing needle especially for sewing felts (same goes for paper). Felt is so fun! I will show you what I've been doing with felt in a post soon.


Monday, November 12, 2012

Fall traditions: Martin of Tours

Dark fall evenings just beg to be lit up. When I first moved to Germany years ago I wondered about these magical little processions on mid-November evenings. Children carefully carrying paper lanterns, following a horse with rider, and singing songs. The mystery for me was solved when I had children of my own. The event is a remembrance of Martin of Tours. He was a Roman soldier on duty in France and according to legend, he was so moved by a poor beggar that he ripped his cloak in two with his sword and gave one half to the freezing man. Shortly afterwards Martin had visions, converted to Christianity and left the military life. He was so beloved that he later (reluctantly) became bishop. His name day is November 11th so traditionally preschools and towns organize processions on an evening around this date. You can read about him here.
Young children generally craft a lantern out of paper or paper-mache at their schools  The children are also taught the legend and practice skits to reenact the sharing of the cloak, and learn a few traditional ballads about St. Martin to sing during the procession.
The procession itself can be small - just a preschool group - or very large. Our town has quite a large event with hundreds of people, mostly parents with young kids. A brass band plays the songs and the procession is led by a rider on horse, dressed like St. Martin. Older children carry flaming torches. (Of course the fire department is involved as well!)
I can imagine that before little battery lights were available, candles in the lanterns caused many a ruined lantern and a tear or too.
It seems almost like an ancient rite as the procession trails through the tiny winding little streets of our town, along the Rhine river and the then ends at a massive bonfire. Often this fire is at the banks of the river which is a stunning sight. This year it was at the old Roman ruins (the remains of castle-like barracks) in the middle of town and was impressively gigantic. It occurred to me that these military ruins are now flanked on one side by the Roman Catholic church and on the other, the Protestant church. I'm sure that would make St. Martin happy.
What makes the children happy are the delicious sweet "Martin" pastries that they receive at the end of the parade to savor while being mesmerized by the flames and sparks of the bonfire.
On dark evenings, this light-filled tradition celebrating altruistic love is a wonderful respite from a sober month and season where branches are suddenly bare and the sky often gray.
My youngest son crafted this lantern at his school and I love how the colors glow when it is lit. Over the years, they have come home with lanterns of all shapes, themes and sizes. I suspect they have gotten to the age where they are just too old to join the procession. It seems like just yesterday I was pushing my oldest in her buggy and she was proudly holding her first colorful little paper-mache lantern we made at her play group. Lucky for her, she was still able to join the procession this year on the excuse that her little brother wanted her to come!