Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Glueck im Unglueck / Lucky in the Midst of Misfortune

Remember that lesson in elementary school about magnifying glasses, and what happens when we bring magnifying glass together with paper or flammable object? Well it was too long ago. So I completely forgot that lesson!

My husband gave me this wonderful Ott-Lite sewing lamp for my birthday last year. My sewing corner is in the entryway to our house. There are great big windows all around my little desk/sewing table. Of course, I had the lamp with magnifying glass parked right next to that table.

Yesterday, as I sat down at my desk to check my email, I saw smoke rising next to my computer. I thought: "What in the world is that? Is it my computer or the sewing machine smoldering?"

Well, you guessed it: The magnifying glass from my lamp was pointed just in the right direction to burn a hole in my desk (see pictures). Good thing my arm wasn't laying on my desk or I could have ended up like James Bond in the movie where he gets lasered...Or I could have ruined my sewing machine and the computer. In fact, after closer inspection I realized that I had previously singed the back of my laptop screen...Oh boy! Despite the annoying hole in my desk - I feel very very lucky indeed.

Wow! How stupid can you be? I guess I never read the package instructions. I was so excited about my new lamp when I recieved it. Mind you, I received this gift over a year ago. I suppose I was just superlucky that this didn't happen earlier or at a time when I had left the house. Who knows what could have happened...I think I will sew a cover for my magnifying glass. For now it is wearing a black hood. Bad Magnifying glass!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Garden Patch Status Report

Remember our Three Sisters Garden project? Before we went on our trip to New Mexico the dads put down some straw in the "trenches" between the planted hills. They did so to retain moisture from watering and keep the weeds down. Did it work?

The good part is: The plants on the mounts have grown immensely and look big and healthy. Wow! Check out the corn and squash plants!

The bad part: The weeds continued growing. They sprouted up through the layers of straw which makes weeding a bit of a challenge.

The children still don't like weeding. Neither do I, in the heat of the day mosquitos swarming about us...We had to bribe the kids with slushies to get the job done yesterday. After weeding for an hour, in the blazing heat, we all got a well deserved reward: Lemon Berry Slushies. We drank them so fast it gave us brain freeze. Quite painful, but oh so good. LOL

Also the beans have been planted about a week ago. My husband snuck out to plant them all by himself...Not fair! There is no documentation of the planting, and you can't really see the bean plants in the pictures because they are still quite small compared to the "older" sisters, named corn and squash.

Now the sisters are happily growing together. The family is complete!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Eat Your Greens: Swiss Chard

We have had a very successful gardening season so far. In February we planted lettuce, spinach, arugula, and Swiss chard. Swiss Chard has become my favorite vegetable I've decided. It comes in many different colors and varieties. I love the plant because it looks so pretty with it's yellow, red, or green stems in your garden. But I have also learned to appreciate it as a foodsource. You can cook it easily and in many different combinations. Freshly harvested from the garden it is just amazing! If you don't have your own garden or forgot to plant it, try and find it at a natural grocery store or farmers market.

This is one very simple way to cook it:

  1. wash and rinse leaves well in the kitchen sink, set wet leaves aside

  2. separate the thick stems from the leaves to cook first

  3. set wet leaves and stems aside, don't dry them because you will need the moisture for steaming!

  4. chop the leaves into smaller, bite sized pieces

  5. peel 2 cloves of garlic and cut it into fine slivers

  6. heat some olive in a big pan with a lid

  7. add your stems to the pot and steam for a 2-3minutes, then add the leaves

  8. put lid on top and steam for about 5 more minutes

Once the vegetables are all wilted and soft they are ready for eating! If you like things a little spicy, you can throw a couple of hot pepper flakes into the oil before you start the steaming process.

This is so easy to do. And my children who are not great fans of this sort of thing have learned to appreciate the greens from our garden. They sure love to pick the vegetables and get more excited about eating something that they grew themselves. You can cook spinach the same way!

I have also added vegetables prepared in this way to pasta and added some pesto. My kids love pesto. The green of the pesto masks the other greens. Without knowing that they were eating their greens they gobbled them all up and said it was so delicious.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Torschuetzenfest / Party of Goalkickers

Keine Grund zur Panik! Die deutschen Jungs haben es mal wieder geschafft. Dabei trauten viele Leute es der jungen Mannschaft nicht zu. Es war ein spannendes Spiel! Trotz einer Fehlentscheidung gegen England, finde ich war der Sieg verdient!

Endstand: 4:1. Da lacht das deutsche Fussballherz.

No reason to panic. The German boys did it once again. Despite the fact that so many people did not trust this very young team. It was an exciting game. Despite a bad call against the English team, I think it was a well deserved win.

Final score: 4:1. The German soccerheart is laughing.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Soccer Worries...

Wird die Mannschaft es in die naechste Runde schaffen?
Deutschland vor! Macht ein Tor!

Too bad the US is out!
At least we don't have to worry about the possibility of a US/German match-up...

Friday, June 25, 2010

Lamentations of a Little League Parent...

To tell you the truth, I didn't know anything about baseball when I moved to this country. Germans don't do baseball. Soccer is the drug of choice when it comes to sports. (Go Germany! I am so glad Germany won that game against Ghana and made it to the next round in the soccer World cup. My knees were shaking there for a while...) From the first time I went to a baseball game in the US, I believe it was at a small ballpark in North Carolina, I was intrigued by this game. For one, I loved the atmosphere at the event. Seeing families out and about in the summers. Everybody from infant, teen, middle aged people, to grandparents coming to the games. What a great place to watch people.

Why at times it's hard to find people in this nation. So much of life appears to be spent indoors or driving places. When I first moved to Greeley, Colorado I asked my husband: Where are all the people? The sidewalks of the neighborhood we lived in always seemed empty. Occasionally I would see a person walking their dog. But other than that, people did not seem to have reason to walk places. I found this to be one of the major differences between Europe and the US. In Europe people spent lots of time outdoors and walking places. People walk to the mailbox. People walk to the store, or enjoy a walk to an outdoor restaurant or cafe. Most kids walk to school, the bus stop, and train station. Why is that? For one thing it is too dangerous here. There are places in the US, I discovered, that don't have sidewalks! But now I am totally off topic.

Little League was supposed to be my topic of discussion for today. I discovered it 3 years ago, when my son started playing baseball. Like I said, I was intrigued by the game when I first walked into a ballpark. How does it work? I'd ask my husband, who would try to explain it to me, question after question. After a while he'd get real frustrated with me. Don't you understand about the strike zone etc...Balls and Strikes? No, I did not. When I moved to Colorado we went to a couple more games in Denver to watch the Rockies. The atmosphere was amazing. People! Yes that's were everybody was! There were actually people laughing, talking, eating, having fun together. I found them! But I still didn't know the rules.

It took me 3 years of watching my son play baseball to figure it out. My husband had given up on me. But with every game I got another little piece of the puzzle, called baseball. I love it! Why don't we have that sport in Germany? It's fun! It's smart! And my son, the little half-German, I am learning is pretty darn good at it. I proudly watch him pitch, run, and play whatever position. Oh dear, I am turning into one of those parents? I never thought it possible. Was that really me who yelled at that umpire last night:" Ump, that was totally unfair! You need to go back to Ump- School - or whatever it is called.- ???

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Fotos old and New...

The first picture of this post shows an old family photograph from 1946 taken in Del Rio, Texas. My husband's grandfather was a Methodist minister who ministered to many small communities in Texas and New Mexico from the 1930s-1970s. In the picture you can see my husband's grandparents: Carmen Lujan and Rev. Eduardo Lujan. The "organ pipe" children in order from right to left are: Elisama (my husband's mom), Edward, Eunice, Eleazar, Erasmo, Eliseo, Ephraim. Notice the e at the beginning of each name?

On this trip we set out to visit Uncle Erasmo who lives in Las Cruces, New Mexico. On the way there we picked up Uncle Eleazar who lives in Albuquerque.

We stopped at some old Western towns. For example Folsom, New Mexico. Ever heard of the Folsom points? That's the place they were first discovered!

If you have never visited New Mexico you must go some time. It is hard to do justice to the beauty of the landscape. A camera lens or technique of painting that completely captures the intensity of colors and textures of the New Mexican landscape, set off against the vast blue sky, has yet to be invented. Of course many artists - such as Georgia O'Keeffe, Anselm Adams, et al...have tried to reflect what their eyes saw. But you must see it with your own eyes to believe it!

Water tower in Las Cruces with Mural of Coronado's Expedition to New Mexico.

We managed to put 1,850 miles on our car in the six days we travelled. About the same distance traveled for centuries by Spanish colonizers, Native American Traders, and Immigrants on El Camino Real, the royal highway from Mexico City to Santa Fe. We learned about El Camino Royal in a cool underground museum near Highway 25 by Socorro, New Mexico. Who were the people who covered such distance by oxcart or foot long ago, I wondered, as I sat complaining in our air conditioned car? Could modern man or woman survive such a trip if put to the test? What about illegal immigrants who perish in large numbers as they try to make it through this desolate landscape without supplies?

After all, I am glad we had the time and resources to go on this trip. Uncle Erasmo enjoyed our company and seeing the kids gave him some hope. Seeing a hint of a smile through his pained face, made all the hours spent on the road worth every moment!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Somewhere in a Hotel room in Las Cruces...

We made it all the way to end of the earth. Or so it seems, down here in the south of the US. The borders get kind of blurred as we move so quickly from New Mexico to Texas and back - with the tortilla curtain in plain sight the whole time.

Memories of the Berlin Wall. My son asks: Why don't they climb the fence to get to the other side? The fence is not very high. See the sign warning of high voltage and threatening instant death by electricity? A different kind of Todesstreifen.

We arrived in Las Cruces and visited some cousins in El Paso and Socorro, Texas. I remember the last time we visited we crossed over the border to Mexico for the day. The cousins tell us it is too dangerous now. People don't cross over just for fun these days...

It is sooo hot in these parts. Way too hot for a German. I am feeling a bit parched this morning. Must remember to drink more water today. Why would anyone go on vacation this time of year here? Temperatures are around 105 and I feel like dying whenever I leave the airconditioned bubbles of existence: The car, the hotel, somebody's house. Well, like I said it is not a vacation. Uncle Erasmo is pretty sick, and we are glad we could come visit him one more time. The children are such good little troupers spending countless hours in the car driving around visiting family.

I still have not figured out how to do mobile uploads to my blog from my phone, but at least I have a hotel with Internet access. But then I realized that I forgot to bring the cable for the camera. Hahaha I still cannot load my pictures onto the computer. I guess I will have to add some pictures when I get home. Or maybe add some old pictures?

Since I was asked to post another recital picture by one of my dear readers I will put it with this post and to liven things up a bit.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Traveling South

Hello from the road! I am off to New Mexico. If only I could figure out how to get pictures from my phone onto the blog. Anyone know? I am off to visit family. It seems like all my travels over the last six years are connected to visiting a sick relative. Cancer claiming lives left and right. Yet another sad trip. Hope? I am so tired of being a helpless bystander! Keep your fingers crossed for us, and pray for all of those lives lost too soon. If only they would find a cure for this darn disease!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Wallstreet article: Why the Germans Win

If you enjoy watching soccer and you love Germany you must read this screaminly funny article from the Wallstreet Journal this morning.

Ballerina Clothes - Dance Recital 2010

This weekend was my daughter's 5th dance recital. I can't believe how quickly time is passing. It seems like only yesterday she was a little toddler who was lost on the stage. With every year she is getting more sure of her place on that big stage - and in the world. I am so proud of her, and it is such a joy to watch the children grow and come into their own. I really loved this year's blue and green costume, too.

I have not made any ballerina outfits for my dolls in a while. I think the CPSIA scare is the main reason why I stopped making ballerina doll outfits completely. Lots of the materials used on kids' ballet clothes - tulle, glitter, flowers - are most likely not considered safe for a child. But I have yet to see a dancewear maker stop making dance clothes for kids who are under 12 years of age. I wonder if all the materials used in yesterday's performance had been tested for lead. Frankly, I think by the time the kids have learned their recital piece, they know not to chew and eat their pretty dress and accessories. But I must keep trying to find some natural materials for doll ballerina outfits so they can get in some stage time again!=)

Friday, June 11, 2010

Win a Living Crafts Magazine Subscription!

Come on hurry over to the NaturalKids blog for a fun giveaway of a subscription to Living Crafts! Such a great magazine!

The NaturalKids team ran an ad in the Magazine two Christmases ago. I was so happy when a picture of one of my items was chosen to be in our ad. My one moment of magazine fame. LOL Maybe some day I'll have enough money to buy ads for my etsyshop...

Thursday, June 10, 2010

veggie dress 1

veggie dress 1, originally uploaded by germandolls.

To go with my vegetable garden I made this cute dress. So adorable. Of course, another Kawaii print!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Garden Report: Weeding and Watering

Here are some new pictures of the garden patch. We planted the corn and squash first. Unfortunately about half the squash did not come up. So we had to replant some. The weeds, as usual, sprouted in large multitudes. The race "weeds against gardener" is at full speed. I can tell it's the kids least favorite part. Everybody loves to water and be in charge of the hose. But weeding is definitely the least popular activity. When I took my daughter weeding on Saturday she kept saying:" This is so boring. Can we go home now?" Patience, Dear! Weeding is an important aspect of being a gardener. As much as we detest it, it is necessary or you don't get any crop!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Needlefelting Doll Shoes

Okay, maybe I am bit of a compulsive person. Just a wee bit. I started needle felting in 2007. It's just the thing for me. Stab stab stab. If you have good fine motor skills, good eye-sight, and lots of patience you should try it. If not you may end up with some self inflicted injuries. But who am I to talk? I occasionally step on needles.

I don't think anybody has taken needle felting quite to the level that I have. I like to decorate my doll shoes to match the dresses for my dolls. I will take an element, a small detail, from the dress and felt it onto the shoe. The tiny doll shoes are my canvas.

It's quite tedious work. But aren't the results quite amazing? You can find lots of examples of my shoes on my flickr photostream

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Just Finished

202, originally uploaded by germandolls.

I shipped this sweet outfit today. I hope it will make a little girl very happy. The fabric I used was sent to me by a dear customer.

What do you think? I really love it when customers come to me with ideas and suggestions for fabric and new combinations. I fell in love with Jason Yentels Splendor. I already did a search on it and will probably order some more of it to make more outfits like this one. =)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

German Music: Stephan Sulke

Do you ever have those days when you have a song stuck in your head? You don't even know how or why that particular song. What triggered this? It may be a song you may not have listened to in years.

Well with me it's been German song lyrics from the 70s. Back then, my oldest sister brought home this tape - remember the time back when people had cassette tapes? - with songs by Stephan Sulke. It was great! One of my favorite songs was called: Die Intellektuellen. So I had to look up the song writer. I found his site. You should check it out. I very much enjoyed reading his autobiographical entry there. I did not know anything about him as a child. I just loved the music. I am glad I took the time to learn more about his life!

Quite a few of his song titles were girls' names: Uschi, Lotte, and Ulla. The song Uschi supposedly became his biggest hit. Not sure why. They should have asked me. I knew better as a ten-year-old! Since my name is Ulla, the song about "die dicke Ulla" always led to merciless teasing by my sisters. Too bad I couldn't find the song lyrics for "Die Intellektuellen". I still got the melody and parts of the song lyrics stuck in my head: Die Intellektuellen, die hoeren gerne Blues. Bei denen tanzen die Forellen, im selbstgemachten Apfelmus...Or was that whole song? Maybe there wasn't more to it. Simple but really good. I don't have the song recording anywhere. Maybe someone can help me out. What album was it on?

I think I'll have to order me a CD from Germany. I like to use music to teach German to the kids. After all, that's how I learned English as a child. Rocking out to the Beatles.Wow, I am feeling really old now. But some music NEVER goes out of style. If you speak German you should look up Stephan Sulke. Unfortunately did not have a version of the song stuck in my head...