Friday, March 20, 2009

Vintage Photo Friday

These photos have been in one of my albums for about 20 years now. I found them in the dumpster of a nursing home in Germany, where I used to work, maybe the previous owner had passed away.
It has since made me sad, that it is lost forever, who this happy family was and where the photos were taken. Or was it the aunt with some cousins? Mother and son with neighbor friends? I always thought they were shot in Florida, but who knows.
They have fascinated me immensely and still do.
Even though someone did not care and threw them away, to me they will always be special.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

mail fun

The mail brought two unexpected surprise packages today.
First was a blog win from generous and talented Sarah at incaknits, some gorgeous handmade cards with pictures of her handknits. Thank you so much, Sarah, I love them!

Then there was also this:

A mini Japanese sewing kit from my sweet friend Mitchi from Maryland.

And the little bell on the front flap really works! Thank you, Mitchi, I love it!
Fiona received her last piece of art for the kid's art swap (find the flick group here) and boy, did we all love this one! It arrived in a thoughtfully picked envelope with the most beautiful stamp I have ever seen.

Mister Django did an awesome job with his artwork, too, and sent his greetings with the biggest grin ever.

Note to myself: I really want to go to New Caledonia one day.
And I want to ride a horse.
The two are not related.
Even though it might be nice to ride a horse in New Caledonia, who knows...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Well, the rubberband-covering-title-problem ended up being not quite that bad. A trip to Joann's brought black, but also golden rubberband in various widths.
So after I picked up the kids from school we enjoyed the spring warmth with a little smoothie picnic in the courtyard in front of the house, where the sun hits just perfectly in the afternoon. With banana-raspberry smoothies the finishing of the little book with the skinny golden rubberband was quickly done.

I also finished the cover of my new little calendar, just glued some paper on and added the extra hooting owl with the year stamped on it. Here as well I added rubberband to keep it together and used little flower eyelets.

The paper came from "The Green Stack", 70% recycled paper, my latest favorite. Warm, earthy colors and the cutest designs ever.

when did this happen?

When I became pregnant/had my first child, other parents and grandparents kept on telling me over and over to enjoy every minute, because "they grow so fast".

Initially was wondering, well, if they grow so fast, how come these first 9 months of pregnancy take FOR-EEEEEVER??

And then it happened, of course it did. I woke up and my first born baby was almost 10 and the little one...? Look at this!

Most of the new books, especially the thrifted ones, usually first get piled up in the studio, where my little girl joined me the other day, grabbed books and started to read. Fluently. I was stunned. When did this happen?

Usually I'm the one who reads to her at night and once a week she has to read a book for school, so when she started reading one book after the other, I was blown away by this "miracle". Do you think I should start looking for a suitable college????...

Ah, well.

I have yet to tell you, why books go in the studio these days: I had this idea of transformation, started collecting cheap boardbooks and finally have been working on this for the last days:

The magical transformation of a Winnie book into a little photobook of appreciation with pictures of a Christmasgift and some follow up photos for friends in Germany.

Boardbooks is the way to go for this, because it saves you the cutting of the cardboard, offers rounded corners or other fancy shapes, and shaping the patterned paper after glueing it to your page is an easy and fun task with a sanding block or a similar tool.

I chose an identical layout for every page, the only difference in the size of the handwritten page element. I added a stamped title on the front cover (which translates into "the perfect gift") and a stamped "danke"/"thank you" on the back. Since I am not happy with the book popping up (something that you cannot really avoid, since you are adding layers to the inside pages), I put eyelets in the back and will add a black rubberband to hold it shut. Ding dong - spur of the moment quick decision will place the rubberband over the end of the title on the cover. Hmm. Live and learn, right?!

I still like it. For a first.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Mom, where are the mountains?

Another rainy day in Abq. When I went out to run/burn some calories/get soaked/think, the rain put a smile on my face! At times we don't get too much of that good stuff in Abq, so you can actually enjoy it, when it finally rains! By the time I was high up on the trails the rain had turned into snow and then stopped and when I turned and looked at the city, I was rewarded with bright sunrays on the center of town and the mountains were finally visible, the bigger part of them covered with new snow.

While my father used to run in solitude and enjoyed listening to the sounds of the forest, I like music for my runs. I need a good beat, I have a long list in my playlist "runningstuff", and with the music my mind wanders.

As so often this past week my mind went to the past. It probably all started last Saturday with my friend Carolyn's 50th birthday party, I talked a lot about the past with Carolyn and also Deb, I've been listening to "old" songs like this or this, emailed with an old friend in Germany, that I had lost touch with for years, and I've been digging through photos, that are more than 15 years old. I remember parties, vacations, windsurfing, my first car (a beautiful blue Toyota Celica sportscar!) and standing out from all those memories the great friendship, that I've always shared with my brother, who lives in Germany. I stumbled over this photo, which summarizes somehow a lot of this and thought that I have not looked at it in too long.

It shows, who we were and kind of how we got to be where we are now in our relationship and it really makes me happy to look at it!
So for Tracey's vintage photo Friday I chose some even older pictures of the two of us.

Have a great weekend, especially you, my dear brother! I miss you!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

the greatest gift

Have I mentioned yet, that my son likes the Army? I mean not just "like" it, he is actually obsessed with it. He dresses in camouflage, talks about tanks and guns, eats books about WWI and WWII, plays on a daily basis with his little Forces of Valor toys, tanks and soldiers and perfectly imitates the sounds they make.

Do I like it? No. Do I want him to join the Army? No. Do I remind him constantly not to forget what weapons and war are about? Definite YES. Do I hope, he will outgrow this? Yes, yes and yes.

However in all this I have to admire the passion, with which he gets into everything he likes. So far he went through several phases of obsession in his life. To name a few, there was Brio, Lego (which has been an ongoing hobby with highs and lows), butterflies, ocean animals, specifically the giant squid (yes!), reptiles, his favorites the snakes and he could name them all. He has always been interested in drawing, crafting and art, he has crocheted and embroidered and tried to spin yarn, but all those do not rank too high on his to-do-list these days. So imagine my joy, when he brought me a drawing just yesterday, that he had made especially for me:

He had made this 3-dimensional pencil drawing of what he loves best these days and for me he had made it a German tank!

I loved the days, when he painted flowers, frogs and snakes for me, but here I was really touched by his effort to please us both - to combine our passions (his for the army and mine for everything artsy) to create this picture.

I should probably also mention that he does not really like school, so of course he ranks his hobbies higher. He always tries to find a way to weave the two together, like he recently gave a report on General Patton. Today he beat all previous efforts: he had to write a story that started with the words "water is good for...." and managed to turn that into a story about a combat situation. I am serious. That is art, too. Right.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Life is good

When I got up this morning I was greeted by the oddly unfamiliar sound of rain and the sigh of relief of all my allergy suffering friends echoed across the city. It took me a few minutes to get used to the idea of getting wet out there before I decided to run anyways. I headed out after the kids were off to school and the trails embraced me with solitude and the peace of steady snowfall and even I, who usually only suffers allergic reactions to guineapigs, was breathing a little easier than usual. Life is good.

Every couple of days there has been ART in our mailbox for Fiona, who participated in Erin and Blair's wonderful Kid's Art Swap. We added some walldecoration in the studio, while we are waiting for the last Art letter - possibly from New Caledonia.
It is amazing, how different the kid's approach is, we have it all - collage, watercolor, acrylic, pencil drawing! If you want to see more of the kid's projects, go here, there is a Flickr group.
Fiona's five little watercolor paintings have all been mailed, these were my favorites:

Finally I have to show off this:

I started a new pair of socks, Opal yarn, that was a generous gift from German fellow knitter Susann (Ravelers click HERE), thank you again! The colors are stunning and I can't stop knitting, which has not happened in a while, I like it.

Have a happy, bright and colorful Monday!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

vintage Friday on Saturday

While my plan for Friday included the vintage photo, my timing got messed up by another ant attack on the pantry. They found the top shelf with the cat's dry food! And my magic circle of baking powder (thanks, Oma!) and cinnamon (thanks, Shannon!) could not work, because they found an entry crack inside the pantry. I nuked them again with windex, a decent dose of pinesol (thanks, Amber!) and finally cinnamon. I just love how kitchen and pantry smell of cinnamon!

Back to vintage

This picture was given to me by a German friend, who used to write humorous columns for a small local newspaper in Germany. I met him, when I worked in a nursing home for a while and took care of his wife. I always enjoyed talking to him and hearing his stories. He was of course much older than me, could have been my grandfather..

One day he gave me this picture, I don't remember why, possibly because I had asked him about the war. He gave me the photo to keep, it shows him in the white coat with a friend in Russia. It has always fascinated me, knowing him as a funny person, always joking, happy and good humored and then the contrast to the situation they must have been in, when the shot was taken. Cold, scared, hungry, fighting a war, that had not been their choice, but yet seeing them in a splitsecond where they apparently managed to push all that away and smiled for the camera, had some wine and relaxed with a cigarette while sitting in front of what seems to be snowed in ruins.

My friend passed away last year. I will remember him.

Friday, March 6, 2009


Today, just like yesterday, is one of those rare cloudy days here in Albuquerque. While the clouds are still racing in the sky, dramatically changing their shape by the second, the strong winds that shook the city yesterday just brought dust and not the much desired rain and have almost completely calmed down.

We are at the end of a week of change.

Spring has definitely paid us an early visit, I've seen a lot of blooming trees and temperatures have been up into the 70s, yes, my German friends, that is wonderful 21 Celsius!

At the same time we, as in husband and me, have made the much needed decision to alter our, as in the family's, eating habits. That means more homecooked meals, less eating out, and while we've always tried to eat healthy, this is yet one step forward and incouragement to dig out those dusty cookbooks and try something new! And please leave me a comment if you know a good internet site with healthy lowfat receipes.

Also, I got back into the groove with my running. Yes, I am trying to shed some pounds, but no, I will not bore you with the gruesome details, let's just say, I am seeing results. Today I went out for my 4th run of the week and while I initially thought I'd have to walk in between, I ended up extending my regular run of average 47 minutes to one of 1 hour and 15 minutes. I have to admit, that I am lucky enough to get quick results and this morning the scale showed me a number that I have not seen in probably a year, which feels real good.

On the technical side change means a new toy (or should I call it a gadget, Kathy??), which is the latest fancy HP Photosmart printer. I had recently bought a quite cheap Kodak printer and while I usually love the Kodak quality, this one turned out as the super flop and was quickly returned to the store after one trial, where I spent over an hour on the phone with tech support and still got only cr... prints. I have yet to discover all the features of the new printer, but so far I got perfect photo prints and one great copy out of it. Yeah for Mom's new toy!

All this (well actually not quite the printerthing, but whatever..) brings me - believe it or not - to Michael Jackson, who has just announced his comeback after 12 years with a series of concerts in London. So I found this. Hmm. Not bad, but I really wonder what all the marching and the helicopterthing is for. My favorite part is the flash of the monster-Michael from the Thriller clip, but the ending? Boy, that made me just laugh out loud, dude, I admire you for you selfconfidence!

Oops, but I got sidetracked. Talking about all the changes for the family and myself makes me love one of Michael's songs even more, I have to say though, that it gives me the creeps to hear him sing about children. Well, just listen to this old song, which is on my iPod in the playlist 'runningstuff'. Wise words and a good beat, too.
And here, same song (you really don't want your kids to watch this version!), but with pictures that make you realize how lucky we are to have everything we need. Just a friendly reminder to always do the best we can to be a better person and to do what's necessary to make this world a better place. Thanks, Michael.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

one of those moments

Yesterday evening was a little tight here. Home late after Fiona's gym class, lots of laundry, ants in the kitchen (please comment if you have any ideas for organic non-pesticide solutions!), the usual mess and a little more homework than usual for Lewis.

Also, I was fixing a soup for dinner, that I had never cooked before, so that was a little more demanding than the same old same old dinner we have most evenings.

So picture this: Lewis working on his homework in the diningroom, Fiona playing with her stuffed animals, me feeding the two cats, killing ants, trying to convince them to find a new home somewhere far far away while wiping and rinsing and washing every possible foodsource away, kids telling me they are hungry ("no more snacking, dinner is almost ready"), me chopping away my very green and healthy veggies, asparagus and sugar snaps for the very green and healthy soup...
So while I am zooming through the kitchen (did you know that the average housewife walks about 10 miles every day in her house - found here! I guess you can knock off 5 of mine for computertime :-) ), I remember Fiona coming in and getting some pencils and paper, and later showing me the picture she had drawn, but at that time I was really just glad she was happily doing something that distracted her from waiting for dinner!

Dinner ended up being really late, 7.30 it was, and after that it was just rush rush rush to bed!

It must have been about 9.00 p.m. by the time the house finally got quiet and I passed the dining room with our big arts-and-crafts/homework/dining table to find this:

Only now I found the peace to really take in what she had brought to me earlier, which was a picture of her Opa, my father, whom she had barely known, since we lost him just before her 2nd birthday. And as her model she had used a framed picture of him carrying her, when she was a baby!

This made me so very conscious of the fact, that it is really what we as parents do, that makes the difference for our children.
We cannot keep the darker moments in life from them, as much as we want to protect and shelter them, they will sooner or later have to experience sadness and loss and have to find their own way of coping with it. But if we talk to them and let them know how much they were loved by those we lost we keep memories alive . Thank you, Fiona, for showing me that this worked for you and that you have not forgotten about your Opa!
It also made me realize, how important it is to slow down, stop and look even when life gets crazy and runs at what we call "Hotwheel speed".
Enjoy the little moments, slow down and look, while I am now waiting for my kids to come home from school, because I really really want to talk to them.