Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Spring in Colorado

After a warm sunny springbreak the children went back to school yesterday. Today they are home again. Why? Well, look at the pictures. This is what Colorado looks like in March - at the beginning of spring.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Robbers in the Hive

Do you remember my post from last spring about bees and beekeeping? If not here is the link

I just thought I'd give you an update on our bee hive. Well, the news is not good. We had such a cold winter here that all the bees died. My husband checked on them a couple months back. He looked through the little window, and all he could see was piles of dead bees. We are not sure if the bees death was due to the nature of the hive (top bar hive). Normally this type of hive is used in Africa and warmer countries. Did we doom our poor bees by making them move into a house that was not well suited to this climate? I feel so bad for them.

Since we were on spring break last week, and it finally warmed up here, we did some gardening. I walked over to our hive, and found to my surprise that lots of bees going in and out. I asked my husband whether he was sure the bees were all dead. I was kind of hopeful he had been wrong...Well, it turns out that these were robber bees stealing our bees' honey.

So we quickly sprang into action and opened the hive to harvest the remaining honey. I did not take any pictures, because I found it too depressing. Also, we had to act fast to rescue what was left of our honey.

I spent most of last week processing the honey and beeswax. In the process I learned that the brood chambers did not contain all that much wax. When melting the brown sheets in a pot, I ended up with a thick glob full of dead bees and debris. Not so fun. On top of it I managed to get stung by one of the robbers who had made it into our house and attacked me as I was breaking the comb into pieces. Ouch! My finger is totally swollen today.

After all this work, I am left with two quarts of very delicious honey and 1.5 pounds of stunningly beautiful yellow beeswax. I made some granola with the honey. Now I need to go to the library and find some books on candle making...

Monday, March 15, 2010

A Pocketdress for every Season: Spring,Summer, Fall, Winter

Es war eine Mutter
die hatte vier Kinder
den Frühling, den Sommer
den Herbst und den Winter

Der Frühling bringt Blumen
der Sommer den Klee
der Herbst, der bringt Trauben
der Winter den Schnee

This is an old German folksong about the seasons. I loved it as a child and thought it goes so well with this picture of my dresses for the seasons.

In translation:
There once was a mother who had four children
spring, summer,
fall, and winter.

Spring brings flowers
Summer brings clover
Fall brings grapes
Winter brings snow

This song may not make a whole lot of sense to Americans who don't know about the fall grape harvest in Germany...Maybe it would make sense to a Californian? When do they harvest grapes there? Snow might work this year - since a lot of people who never had snow got lots of it this year. Didn't it snow in Georgia?

I am glad I live in Colorado. I love having seasons. I cannot imagine living in a place where the sun is always shining. I miss the grape harvest. But luckily we can go to the pumpkin patch instead. So my dresses are sort of the American version of the seasonal hightlights.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Pocketbaby Medley of Cuteness

pocketbaby meddley complete, originally uploaded by germandolls.

It took me forever to make this collage of my pocketdolls. Hope you enjoy it!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Etsy Friend Portraits III - Cynthia Toy, The Fairies' Nest

Did you know there is a word geek amongst the NaturalKids Team members? I found out about my friend’s hobby when I read her blog entry on the word “craft”.
It’s such a neat post. If you are not already a follower of Cynthia’s blog, you must become one now! I am thrilled every time I read her musings about art and the daily battles as an artist. Yes battles, because often it is quite a battle, when you are trying to get a doll to be perfect! I can so relate to it. People see the finished product and sometimes don't realize, what it took to get there. You can also find wonderful dollmaking tutorials, and of course, tons of pictures of Cyn's amazing dolls.

Inspired by Cynthia’s word geekery, I did a little research on the word nest.

I found the following definitions of the word nest in my Webster’s Dictionary :

  • 1 a : a bed or receptacle prepared by a bird for its eggs and young b : a place or structure serving as an abode of animals and especially of their immature stages c : a receptacle resembling a bird’s nest
  • 2 a : a place of rest, retreat, or lodging b: den, hangout
  • 3: the occupanters or frequenters of a nest
  • 4 a: a group of similar things : aggregation
  • 5: a group of objects made to fit close together or one within the other

When you visit The Fairies' Nest, the store or her blog, you will feel right at home in her cozy and warm nest. You can tell she worked hard to put these beautiful sites together for your enjoyment. The images of her dolls and her writing, take you right back to your childhood, back to memories of toys and stuffed animals you used to have growing up. Darn’ it! I wish I could go over and see it with my own eyes. But the internet will have to make do for now.

People who are likeminded love to frequent (or nest in) the fairies’ nest. The other day I used the word family to describe our group. I think definition 5 would work nicely,too. I wouldn’t refer to us as objects, but we do fit nicely together, one within the other. All members of the Etsy NaturalKids Team carry the hope that our toys will be like a nest, create some warmth, for the children who receive them, in a world that is often such a cold hard place. We build and create our kid products with fabric, wool, wood, and natural materials. You just can’t build a warm nest out of plastic, can you?

I love the nest you are building, Cynthia! Thanks for sharing the warmth! And what greater name could there be for a toymaker? Seriously, Cyn, I totally envy you for your name. =)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Etsy Friends Portrait II: Beccijo - Little Sister

I remember my seventh grade German teacher all too well. Her name was Frau Sieben (Mrs. Seven- really!). Every week we had to write an essay about a topic. The following Monday Frau Sieben would come back with three essays in hand. Not naming the respective author, she would first read the worst essay, the one that received a failing grade, out loud to the class. Then she’d move on to the middling essay, the essay that received a C. Last she would hand the best essay, the one that got an A, to the student who wrote it, and make that student read it out aloud in front of the class.

We would all sit there in fear hoping that our essay would not be read out aloud, to be snickered at and ridiculed by the class. Of course, everyone would look around trying to guess whose crappy essay was read. Was someone blushing over there? Sound like the dark Middle Ages of education to you? I sure hope things have changed in German education! Only one time that year did I received an A and was picked to read my essay to the class. That week’s assignment was to write about a family member. I chose to write an essay about my little sister. Growing up in a household with 4 sisters can be a challenge at times. To say the least, I was not always getting along with my sisters. Being number 4 of the lot, I was often jealous of my youngest sister. She stole my spot of being in the limelight coming along 4 years later. Yet, in writing this essay about “Meine Kleine Schwester “ I learned a lot. I realized how much I loved her, despite the jealousy and anger I often felt towards her. As it turns out, of all my sisters, I am closest to my youngest sister, and I have the strongest bond with her these days…

Now what exactly does this have to do with my etsy team? Due to the nature of our profession, which is ruled by female crafters, we are mostly a team made up of women. Our team is like a big family with lots of sisters… Sara, or Woolies, I like to think of as a big, wise, older sister. Beccijo I see as a little sister. I am not really sure why. Maybe it’s because she joined the family later. I don’t really know her age for sure, but I feel she is a lot younger than me. Full of positive energy and the fearlessness of youth, she immediately became a leading member of our team. Beccijo runs our NaturalKids Website with her husband Wade! We are so grateful for that!
I often wonder how she finds the time to do so much work for our team, raise 4 kids, and to make the most amazing wooden play sets and little painted people. Does she ever sleep?

Go check out her store and lovely blog
and take a look around. Planning on a wedding? You will find unforgettable cake toppers – hand painted – to look like you and your spouse to be.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Meet Sara - My Etsy Friend - Woolies

Being an immigrant in America is not easy. Never was and never will be. Just read some novels. I had read plenty of them before I moved to the US in 1996. I knew what I was getting myself into. Why, oh why, did I do this? Like many immigrants before me, I was getting depressed after living here for a few months.

I think anyone, who has moved to a new place, understands this feeling of being cut off from your family, friends, and home. But when you are an immigrant, the pain is multiplied by being cut off from your culture and language.

I traded the big city lights of Berlin for the not so well-lit streets of small town America. Every Christmas I’d run off to Germany and say to my husband: “I hate it here. I want to go back to Germany.” I had a hard time making friends. I felt the looks of people saying:”Here she comes, the oddball German with her accent and strange view of the world.” I felt terribly isolated.

I believe, it was in the spring of 2008, when I first stumbled upon a thread in the etsy forum. In this thread I met Sara – or Woolies. My husband thought it was crazy when I told him one evening that I had to go online to “talk” to my etsy friends. What do you mean by etsy friends? Who are these people? You have never met them. - Yes, I have!

It’s a funny thing about the internet. You may never see, hear the voice, smell, or touch a person – yet you can meet them and feel close to them just the same. You may even get to know them better than your next door neighbor…
On that memorable thread I met Sara – or Woolies – as the team members all lovingly refer to her. She has two esty shops. My favorite is of course: .When you are having a bad day, you may want to take a look at her creations: Knitted, stuffed, warm, and fuzzy animals.
Sara has always been the person I could turn to when I was having a rough day – comforting - like a stuffed animal friend to a child. Does that sound weird? It's even better to have someone you can talk to about your troubles (on and off-line) who will talk back to you! Thanks so much for being there, Sara!
I learned a lot of things about Sara. I know she lives in Arizona and loves horses. Hence I added pictures of her real and knitted horses to this post. I know that she loves her family very much, and works in advertising. I know of her daily struggles and worries about money and the kids future. We have even visited on the phone. Since she has never been able to come over for dinner, I asked her what her favorite food was: She said ice cream.

I hope someday we can go out for an ice cream together…

Please, check out her two lovely shops on etsy. And don't forget to stop by her blog and leave a comment!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

NaturalKids Team Blog-A-Thon Spring Event

The NaturalKids Team was started by Amber or woodmouse in 2007. Early members included faerierebecca, fairiesnest, cozycottage.
It was a small group, with a small presence on etsy. Since that time members have come and gone but our mission has stayed the same. To be a group of sellers dedicated to creating natural products for children. We are a diverse group of artisans who make natural toys, utensils, clothing and accessories for kids. Our sellers work with materials from the Earth, such as wool, cotton, silk and wood. Our goal is to support, promote and have fun together while building our businesses. One of our 1st Team Blog Post read as below and it is still true today.... We are a diverse bunch from all over the globe who have at least one thing in common: we all work with natural materials in our products for children. Oh yeah, and we're all pretty darn crafty & talented too! Wool, wood, cotton...just simple materials direct from the Earth.
So who are we?
Some of us are mothers of small children.
Some of us are mothers of grown children.
Some of us make dolls, some of us make hats, some of us make toys.
Some of us have been selling our wares for many years.
Some of us are just starting to discover our talents and start selling. Some of us work with natural materials for environmental reasons.
Some of us work with natural materials as part of the Waldorf educational philosophy.
Some of us work with natural materials because we believe they are healthier and safer.
Some of us just like working with natural materials.
Some of us sell our wares for a living. Some of us sell our wares as a hobby.

Since that time, some of us are fathers.

PS: I did not write this article, but I wanted to ad some comments to it. My Etsy team started as a mere chat group in the Etsy forums, where one day I stumbled upon a group of people who had the same interests as me: they were dollmakers, stay-at-home moms, loved natural toys, and really good people. It was love at first sight - so to speak. Back then people lovingly referred to me as >the German<. Gosh, we had such fun hanging out together. I think the picture of my dolls huddling together discribes it very well.
Yes, we have had people come and go over the years. But being on an Etsy team is sort of like a marriage or any good friendship. One has to work really hard to keep them happy and healthy. I am so glad to be a part of this great team! Thanks so much to everyone who has contributed over the years to make it a strong team. Thanks to the person who initiated this Blog-A-Thon. We love you, Beccijo! What a great idea! Since this post is already so long, I would like to feature some of the spring items from my beloved teammates and friends spread out over the next few days...

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Books on Blogging...

Do blogs have birthdays? It's been two years since I started this project. I am not sure whether to celebrate or feel sad. I really feel so inadequate at blogging. In fact, so much so that I went to the library the other day to check out some books on blogging. See picture for the titles I found.
After two years I still don't have a clue how to do many things. I wish I could afford some expert help to spruce things up around here. Then I started reading Blog Schmog by Robert W. Bly, one of the library books mentioned before. Reading the first chapter it's pretty obvious that the man does not think very highly of bloggers. According to Mr. Bly the majority of bloggers are people who don't know how to spell, punctuate a sentence (very true for me =), and the content of most blogs is banal and downright silly. I could go on with his list of put-downs. Wow! That guy really hates bloggers, and his book depressed me.

Funny though that he has a blog of his own and invites readers to comment on it. Should I pay his blog a visit? I am sure his blog is perfection.
Does my blog suck that much? Is it worth the time and energy I have been putting into it?

Luckily I found some other books on the subject that were more positive and hopeful in their outlook. For example, Blogging for Bliss by Tara Frey looks like a fun book. Do you know of any books that helped you along the way? I admit that my biggest challenge when it comes to blogging is the technology part. How does one become an expert and still have time to be a mom and wife, make great dolls, plus run a business and household?