Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Here's the highlights from Christmas, and maybe an explanation of why I haven't blogged since November...

I found the cutest Christmas tree (live in a pot) that's not tooooo small, but sits perfectly on top of our desk in the living room. The presents don't fit up top with the tree, so they go under the desk. It's maybe not traditional, but it works great. I couldn't find my tree skirt and it wasn't high enough on the list of handmade priorities... maybe next year. I did decide on a whim to make a fabric garland from scraps of Christmas flannel! It turned out super cute! And the cinnamon gingerbread garland is from HERE!

Thanks to my new Pinterest addiction I may have gone slightly overboard with handmade gifts this year. Here's a rundown of what I REMEMBER making and links to where I got the ideas (if they weren't my own):
Silhouette Ornaments
iPhone clip case with zippered pocket
Mug Rugs
Ruffle Pouch
Letter from Santa (to explain why Ethan was getting a used video game....)

(The pictures in the links are the inspiration. 
I forgot to take pictures as I was making stuff!)

Whew... I was a little busy. During that time I also learned how to make my own deodorant and laundry soap!

We had a very nice Christmas celebration. We started off with a Christmas Eve service at the German church where all four of us played a part. Rob was playing the piano the whole time, Haven, Rob and I all sang, and Ethan played the HARP!! That's right! He was at the practice with us and kept trying to play Ariane's harp, so she just brought the baby one for him. And he performed on Christmas Eve with the rest of us! It was SO cute! I don't have pictures yet, but hopefully some good ones were taken.

Christmas Eve was lovely and quiet and full of music and friends and food and fussball!

And then there was the storm of wrapping paper, ribbons, tissue, and squeals of delight this morning! I was busy notating everything the kids got as they shredded paper, so there aren't many pictures... 

These are just a few things I snapped pictures of. The circuit board on the bottom is pretty cool. It's like legos in that it snaps together, but there are real wires and circuit boards to connect and make it run stuff. Ethan loved testing his own designs and then trying to figure out why they didn't work! The kit came with instructions for 100 different circuit configurations!

I heard about the book "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children" from a blog I read and Haven bought it for me for Christmas. The pictures in it are really interesting to me. They are all vintage photos which are clearly manipulated, but BEFORE photoshop. So those editors had some skills! The funniest quote of the day came when I opened the book and Haven said, "Don't drop my bookmark! I'm not finished reading it!" HAHAHA!! Yes, she was pre-reading her gift to me. Whatever, as long as she reads. :)

And the other really exciting gift for me (which I get to talk about since I'm the one typing...) is that Rob got me a Jo Totes Camera bag! These bags are super cool! I swoon over how organized my bag is now. I can fit all my junk in it - in an orderly fashion - AND fit my DSLR camera!

Presents are nice, and we are very grateful for the things we received. But the main thing that was so touching to us is the gift of family and friends. With all the "interesting" and, to be honest, painful experiences of 2011, we treasured our Christmas together. We survived 2011 and we have faith that God will continue to direct our paths in 2012.

And if the zombie apocalypse happens to occur, I know how to sew clothes, make soap and deodorant.
So I guess we're set.

Froehlichhe Weihnacten und einen guten Rutsch!!

That's a Christmas color... right?

Braces and blue hair. My baby girl is growing up! :)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Childhood Memory

Anyone else remember the Snoopy Snow Cone maker? I saw this at the PX and wanted my kids to also have the pleasure of slaving away grinding ice cubes for a tiny cup of shaved ice. =)

Monday, October 31, 2011


This year both the kids wanted to be animals. Specifically, 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle

And a furry panda.

Easy peasy! Once Ethan decided he wanted to be a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle there was no convincing him otherwise. So that was easy. Haven took some time planning hers. She got the hat downtown for her birthday and we had ordered the furry leg warmers sometime back. She wanted everything to be right, but then wouldn't let me paint her face! Silly girl. Oh well. They were both cute. 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Tropical Islands

While we were in Berlin we took one day to visit the indoor water park Tropical Islands. This is so cool! It's built inside of an old Zeppelin hangar! They did a really good job with the inside, including real plants, birds, and beach sand. 
Inside they have two swimming areas with "beaches." They have places you can stay inside the park, either in tents or in little lodges. We didn't stay overnight, but I think it would be fun to stay in one of the lodges.
Once you are inside you pay for everything with a chip in your wristband. For lunch we had an all you can eat Asian barbeque that was AMAZING. You choose all the raw ingredients and then they cook it for you.
The kids wanted to spend the whole time in the pool, but I did get them out long enough to take a hot air balloon ride around the complex. 

It was pretty fun! The balloon is strapped to a guy who walks it around the grounds. Seriously. It's strapped to a guy. He weighs the passengers ahead of time and then weights down the balloon so we don't fly away. Say hi to Rob on the lounge chair!

Saturday, October 15, 2011


Over Columbus Day weekend we went to Berlin. We've been living here almost 10 years and had not gone there yet! This was a good time to go because Ethan was old enough to understand and remember what he saw there. Here's a few shots from our tour of the city.

The portion of the wall still up is a kind of outdoor museum. There is a display you can walk through with a timeline and pictures from before and after WWII.

Checkpoint Charlie is a tiny little building in the middle of a street. The guys standing there with the flags look kinda grumpy but they were actually very nice! The guy on the left stamped my passport with "Checkpoint Charlie" in several different languages.

These are a few pretty sites from our bus tour. I don't remember what everything was.

The Brandenburg Gate was pretty neat. I bet it was quite a site back when it was in use. It was one of the gates to the city back when it had a protective wall. (1730)

This was pretty interesting. We didn't get out and walk around this area, but it was emotional just driving by. It's called Bebelplatz, and was a site for Nazi book burnings. Do you remember the scene from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade? 

This is the Memorial to the Murdered Jews.

The city was a little less emotional than I expected, I think due to the fact that we had both kids with us. That kept us moving, kept us out of museums, and divided our focus. The one thing that actually helped me stay focused was that Ethan kept asking "why" over and over. Why was there a wall, why was it torn down, why were people mean, why, why, why. He wasn't the only one who wanted to know why.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Work Clothes Round 3

This picture is painful to post, but it was the best one out of the bunch. My dear sweet teenage photographer did NOT want to help me tonight, and by the time I realized all the pics were blurry it was dark. So... what are you gonna do.

The bodice is a black jersey and the skirt is a plaid knit I found at The pattern is Simplicity 2724 with some modifications.

Here's what I did:
Since the fabric was plaid I didn't want to cut all the pieces for the straight skirt. So instead I used the pattern for the a line skirt, but made it only as wide as the bodice piece (eliminating the pleats). That worked fine. And since it is knit I didn't put in the slit. After I had it all together I realized it pulled weird at the waist (the skirt part is heavy) and I needed an empire waist instead. So I made that modification, but then the hip was way up at my waist! Oops. So I had to take it in more on the sides. It's still a little funny under my arms and I'm not really sure why. But it's wearable and comfy. I made it a few weeks ago but had to wait for fall weather to wear it. There are some positive things to the colder weather here - like tall boots with new dresses. :)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Work Clothes Round 2

Another favorite pattern! This blouse is from a Knip Mode issue from Hilco from a couple of summers ago. I checked for a similar American pattern and found this New Look that is almost the same cut.

I added the ruffle with just bias strips sewn into the placket. I had trouble finding the right buttons so I ended up using five completely different buttons in the same shade of red. I love it! I used a stretch cotton poplin from I really love this shirt!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Tooth Fairy Pillows

I didn't know that tooth fairy pillows were uncommon, but apparently the little tooth shaped pillow I had as a child is not a staple of every household. A customer asked for a cute pillow for her daughter to use so I volunteered. I had so much fun making hers I made four more! I even embroidered these and sewed them all by hand! And enjoyed it! :)

Business Sewing

Got the first of my business attire finished.
Shirt: Simplicity 2975, super discounted knit from (seriously, it was under $3!)
Pants: Vogue 1051, pinstripe black

I also got a few other pieces finished but not photographed yet. I've been super busy at work the last two weeks, so my business clothes are getting a lot of wear!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Fall Wardrobe Challenges

Colette Patterns Fall Palette Challenge

Collette Patterns is doing a fall color palette challenge, and I've decided to give it a go. Rob and I were talking about colors today and I mentioned that I had been liking yellow/green and then we had a discussion about what that color was called - at the end of which I just want to point out that I was right. :) He downloaded an app for iPhone called Peppermint that will identify any color in any picture you have on your phone and make color combinations with that color. After choosing the green here's the color combo I got:

That beige was supposed to be the green.... I fixed it later.

WOW! I love these colors! Well, I don't know about the pink... but grey, red, mustard, and chartreuse are all colors I have been buying and working with already.

There is another challenge going on called the Fall Essentials Sew Along, so that had me inspired too.

I'm trying to build up a more business-like wardrobe, so getting down to basics is what I need to be doing.

Here is my inspiration board for the Collette Color Challenge and the Fall Essentials Sew Along.

I also have a Sewing Inspiration board on Pinterest if you are interested.

I already have the yellow taken care of in my wardrobe, so I don't have plans to make anything yellow. But I added cream because I do have plans to make some cream shirts. And I even found the pink! Amy Butler has rayon now! The Fall Essentials has categories to help you plan the sewing. Here's how my plans line up:

Pinstripe Pants (started)
Pinstripe Cropped Pants (have fabric)
Gray Flounce Skirt (one done, have fabric for #2)
Blue jeans #2 (cut out)

Lace top (need to order lace)
Black and patterned top (not pictured)
Soul Blossoms top (need to order)
Bow front top (have fabric)
Diagonal hem shirt (have fabric, need pattern)
Collette Jasmine top (need to buy pattern)

Red plaid knit dress (have fabric)

Pink piggy pj pants (done)

Jackets (have fabric and patterns for all)
            Pinstripe Blazer
            Rain jacket 
            Red plaid jacket
            Blue jacket

That's a lot of sewing. Plus I have sewing for the kids I want to get done. Fall has already settled in here in Germany. (That's right. We got one stinkin week of summer!) So I had better get to sewing!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Can you say "sewing frenzy?"

It seems like the busier I am at work the more I want to sew. It's SEW relaxing! Do you see what I did there?  Giggle. Anyway, this week was ferociously busy getting ready for an event today (CARE Fair for those who know what it is), and of course yesterday I decided I wanted a new shirt to wear. So I bought the fabric, washed it, ironed it, traced the pattern, cut the pieces and sewed the shirt together all last night.

Last summer I drafted a shirt based on one I own. It turned out pretty well, but parts of it bugged me. Corinnea had bought a pattern which was almost exactly what I had drafted and it came out perfect! After seeing several versions of it throughout blog-land I broke down and bought the pattern. I didn't like having a tie in the back (it bugs me when I'm driving) so I drafted it to sew in the "belt" around the back. I also split the back to have a different fabric on top. That wasn't part of the original pattern.

The pattern I used is Simplicity 7188 in Germany (which is the version I used) and Simplicity 3750 in America. The bird fabric is from Aviary 2 from Joel Dewberry.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Katagami Tunic

I made two tunics with this pattern (Simplicity 2191) before cutting into this amazing Katagami fabric. Have you seen this fabric? It's SO pretty! The whole line is beautiful. I think it has a neat backstory too. This was the fabric I was testing the pattern for, and for this one I went with cutting the pieces on the bias. So now it's super comfy! The temptation will be to wear it every day...

BUT luckily summer is finally sticking in Germany! I am marking the official (official for my blog's purposes) as August 15. It has finally gotten warm enough to use the air conditioner in the car! Seriously, last week I was still using the heated seats, and this week AC! Yeah!!!!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Flowers, flowers and more sugar - I mean flowers

I bought myself a little present. This set of cutters. It came in yesterday.

This is just part of what was in the box.

So all other plans I had for the evening were immediately changed and I spent the rest of the night making these.

Look at this rose! I mean, come on! It was SO easy!

So I HAD to make cake. The best carrot cake ever, to be exact. Carrot cake cupcakes.

And here's some beauties up close. 


Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Trench Coat that never got blogged

Way back before Jennifer moved she gave me a trench coat pattern and this awesome corduroy. It's been so long I can't remember all the details... Corinnea, did you cut the pieces out? I think that's when I got introduced to pattern ease. At any rate, I did make the coat and Mary took some awesome pictures one really misty day. And then I lost the camera memory card. Grrrr. There was never another day so perfect so I never got pictures taken again! But today I decided to change purses and when I cleaned out the old one I discovered a hole in the lining. I dug around inside to retrieve all the things that had fallen through and low and behold there was the missing camera card! And the pictures! So, now you all get to see my trench coat! Sorry, I don't know what pattern it is. I didn't write down enough information before I gave it back to her. Thanks so much for the fabric and the pattern Jennifer! I love the coat!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

I ♥ Pandas

Haven has been crafting! I came home the other day and she had been making panda stuff. She was inspired by stuff on Etsy and then made her own versions. So she ended up with a panda figurine, necklace, ring, and phone case. The figures are Sculpey clay and she hand sewed the phone case out of a t-shirt and a sock! I love that! I have been dying to encourage her to use the sewing machine, but know if I suggest it she will resist. Well, last night she finally asked if she could use my machine. Absolutely!!! I even refrained from complaining about the mess she left in the room afterwards. Shhhhhhh... don't tell her she's crafty!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Simple Goodness

I've had these starred for awhile to try, but just got around to it today. Where I saw it was Ruffles and Stuff and she called it a Larabar. I've never heard of a Larabar, so I call it peanut-raisin fish. Doesn't that sound delish? SOOOO simple and really tasty! It's just 1/2 cup peanuts, 1/2 cup raisins, and 1/8 tsp salt. I don't have a food processor so I used my blender and it worked fine. I pressed them into a silicone fish mold from Ikea and voila! Peanut-Raisin Fish. I wanted the same reaction as her kid, which was "ooh yum mommy! I want them everyday!" or something like that... Ethan said, "eh... they're ok." Then he came back a few minutes later. "Um... I was wrong, they aren't just ok. Can I have another one? No, maybe two. Are you going to eat that one? Can I have more?" Hehe! Oh, and as an aside, she called them "sugar free" but actually I think she meant "no sugar added" since the raisins of course have sugar. And if you have peanut allergies in your house try something else. I want to try cashews and dried cranberries next. Mmmmmmmm.....

EDIT: I tried cashews and cranberries. It was ok, but actually not as good as the peanuts and raisins. Plus the cranberries had a ton of added sugar. I think the joy of the peanuts and raisins is that they taste like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich!

In other news, Haven has been exhibiting the "Younger Story Telling Gene" in which tiny fish become a giant catch, etc. Today I was explaining how the meat was a little crispy because of a mishap with the gas grill. Then Haven added to it: "Then there was a huge fire. It almost caught the house on fire. People were screaming. Babies crying. Then the neighbors house almost caught on fire. People running for their lives...." She sounded JUST like my brother when he tells stories! Straight faced and as if it really happened! This is a trait my brother picked up from our father who is the master story teller. (remember the one about the salmon?) I just didn't know that Haven could inherit this gift half way across the world!

Monday, August 8, 2011

A Reason to Make Cake

Deanna once said something like once she decides to learn something she keeps practicing until she masters it. I can totally relate to that. When I get a bee up my bonnet to learn something I become absolutely obsessed until I can do it perfectly and then I get bored and learn to do something different.

So, where does that leave me with this cake decorating thing? Well..... I clearly need more practice. This is actually much more challenging than one would think. Therefore, I see a lot more baking in my future. I have two exhibits to prove my point. In order to practice I have researched cakes on the internet and have been modeling mine after pretty ones I find. Here's my side by side comparison of my progress.

Exhibit 1
Clearly the layers are not right. I think I should have had two layers on the bottom and one on the top, or maybe three on the bottom and two on the top. And my flower is too big, but at least it's the right shape. But look how smooth and perfect her fondant is! I need a better recipe I think.

Exhibit 2
Well, the layers are a little better. (I was only doing the top two layers.) But her flowers are soooo beautiful! Look how thin hers are. So dainty and realistic. But hey, at least my frosting coloring is right on!

Well, just wanted to keep it real. Most of the time I only post the stuff that turns out nice. Since I don't know how long this learning process will take I thought I had better document the not so good stuff along the way too. I see more cakes in my future!

PS. "Her" in the picture comparison is Cupcake Envy and her cakes are AMAZING!!!!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Birthday Cake

WARNING! Lots of pictures ahead!

So the other day I saw a cute mini cake in an ad and thought "I can do that." So I started researching mini cakes. Then I got this urge the other night and HAD to make mini cakes! Since we were having people over to celebrate Rob's birthday I thought it was the perfect reason to make cakes. These were all made from one cake mix and one recipe of fondant. The recipe is fine except that I had to add a lot more powdered sugar to make it firm enough to mold. So... here's the cakes:

Rob's Birthday Cake

And one for each guest:

Here they are all together on the counter looking pretty.

There wasn't enough cake for the kids to have their own, so I made them these little cupcakes. The colors may be weird for the animals, but that's what I had left!

These cakes are about two servings and super sweet. So I knew the guests wouldn't finish their cakes. The ziplock containers were the perfect size for them to take their cakes home.

And since it was Rob's birthday, there were presents!
DELICIOUS homemade Tiramisu, a wine refrigerator to take care of all that wine from Italy, a cool iPad stand for use in the kitchen to read recipes, and fun espresso cups.

And our little dinner party.
Happy Birthday Rob! We love you!