Monday, November 29, 2010

Black Friday Frenzy

It's Friday morning somewhere in the US. Little conspirational groups are assembling in cold dark places in the wee morning hours. Despite the fact that their toes are freezing off, and they forgot to bring a hat, scarf, or mittens they huddle together. Some are not brave enough to face the elements. There are lurkers in cars that are kept running, spewing fumes on the innocent herd of people gathering - where? In front of JoAnn' s Fabrics & Crafts.

Is this really me standing there waiting excitedly with them? I never believed I would participate in this craziness. I assure you there is nothing like it in Germany. Not like Germans don't enjoy a good sale. But this? Nope, don't have it. Only in America...

What a curious thing to behold. This year is actually my third year. I am becoming a bit of veteran here. Part of the acculturation process, I suppose. The last two years I arrived right around 6 am, just when the store opened. Too late, deary! You will not get a shopping cart that way. Must have shopping cart to lug around all those bolts of fabric and tons of other stuff that wasn't really on sale...So here I stand with my camera. Asking people for permission to take a picture for my blog. You know, to document and collect evidence of this phenomenon. Permission granted, I take a picture of the first 5 hardy shoppers.

I made it at 5.30 AM. They came even earlier. I am so proud of myself. Skipping breakfast really helps. One fellow shopper tells me how she has already hit three other stores. The worst being Best Buy, where police was called to hold over 500 shoppers at bay. Maybe next year I'll go there to see for myself. But I am kind of a scaredy cat. And I really don't like crowds very much - unless I am in Germany and enjoying the benefits of public transportation. I don't mind rubbing shoulders if it involves getting places. But shopping. Nope.

So there it goes. The door finally opens. The run for the shopping carts is on! Got one! But OH NO! I was too slow again. Someone grabbed that cute flannel fabric that I really wanted. Will she buy the whole bolt? I am simply not tough enough for this event. Besides warm clothes, the task requires speed and agility. I mostly stand back and watch the scene unfold around me, tentatively putting a couple of bolts in my cart.

There are quite a few gentlemen around who have come to support their wives in their mission this morning. No way I would ever get my husband to come here. Quickly, I snap a picture of a dude with a cowboy hat. He gives me a bored look. I suppose he won't mind having his picture on my blog, would he?

I remember the first year I attended this event. There was a husband wife team. She shopped while he was instructed to wait in the check-out line. Then came the nervous breakdown. He made it to the front of the register too early and paid for the stuff. It was quite the scene, since she had to wait in line again plus lost her 20% off coupon on the rest of her haul. Wow! I couldn't help but smile. But really it was mostly sad. The guy got yelled at after he had endured and shopped so valiantly for hours with her. How is that fair?

Well, I got my share of the loot this this year. I humbly put only 8 bolts in my cart and bought two yards each. There was no funny/sad scene like the one I witnessed my first year. Everybody was really nice and friendly. The sales staff even offered to let me do a repeat shot of them in action. My neighbor in line was really awesome. We talked about sewing machines and what we intend to make. I got some really good tips, and she even offered me a few cuts of yardage from some bolts she had stacked on her cart! :). Seamstresses and crafts people are really peaceful and kind folks. All the early bird shoppers were happy as a lark!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Pumpkin Rolls / Kuerbisbroetchen

In my desperate search to find more recipes to use up our organically grown Zucca Barucca squashes, I found a recipe for rolls in one of my German bread baking books. Have you ever heard of pumpkin rolls? They sell them in German bakeries this time of year. The perfect side to go with your Thanksgiving dinner! It's not too late! You can still whip some up!

I changed up the German recipe slightly since I did not like that it used all white flour.

  • 300 grams of pumpkin puree
  • 250 grams of whole wheat flour
  • 250 grams of regular flour
  • 1/2 tsp. of salt
  • touch of nutmeg
  • 200 ml of milk
  • 3 tsp. of dry yeast
  1. Sift flour, add the salt and nutmeg.Put milk in microwave for one and a half minutes and warm up to a little warmer than room temperature. Add yeast to milk and stir until it is blended in with the milk.
  2. Add the milk yeast mixture to flour. Add pumpkin puree. Knead together until it stick together. You want a nice dough that is not too sticky. Add more flour if needed.
  3. Place dough in bowl and place towel over it. Let rise in a warm spot. I like to put mine on the radiators. Works great this time of year...
  4. Once the dough has about doubled in size knead again. Shape into 15 little rolls and place on greased cookie sheet. While the oven is warming to 400 degrees let the buns rest and rise once more.
  5. When the oven has reached temperature put buns in and bake for about 20-25 minutes. They are ready when they are turning brown and sound hollow when you tap on the bottom of the bun!
Delicious! I got to run and whip up another load for the feast since the kids have been chewing them up already...You need lots of buns for Thanksgiving. But they can be enjoyed throughout the season! It also helps keep the house warm...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Warm Thoughts

Wenn Dir kalt ist, mach Dir warme Gedanken!If you are feeling cold, think warm thoughts!

Or something like that in translation...All of a sudden it got really cold Colorado. Looks like Winter is finally here. We even had some snow last week. I am having a tough time getting up in the mornings. Since we live in a drafty old house, I fear getting out from under my warm covers each morning. I really must tape those cracks around the windows today. It's like sleeping with an open window when it's 5 degrees outside.

Steh' auf Du altes Murmeltier, bevor ich die Geduld verlier! Get up you old marmot, before I lose patience! I sing that little song to the kids when they don't want to get up for school. Now I have to hum it to myself.

Must get up and finish those custom orders. There is also this pesky pile of packages sitting on my shelf that needs address labels. Do I really have to go venture out today and take them to the Post Office? Oh well, there is that shipment to Canada. Internationally shipping is more trouble than you think.

Good thing we have that wood stove and hubby got up and made me a fire. I love watching the fire. Kind of mesmerizing. Check out that cool volcano shape! The log had a hole from a branch, and fire is spewing out like lava. Stop! Got to go make more dollies...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Who Will Do the Wash?

Seriously. The complaints are getting bad around here. Every time Christmas rolls around I get tons of orders. Why can't people order in the summer? How can you tell it's Christmas at GermanDolls? Not just by the amount of little sticky notes by my sewing table. The wall is getting covered. It's that darn laundry piling up. And the constant nagging by the family:" Mom, where are my socks? I am out of shirts and undies." Oh dear! How will I ever catch up? Not to mention the dust bunnies under the beds? The German Hausfrau is cringing at the sheer thought of them...

But I am making some really cute dolls. And my studio is spotless, right? =)

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Baby to Care for...

I couple of years ago I wrote a blog post about why boys need dolls. I recently received a letter by a customer which confirmed my belief. I am convinced that all boys should have a doll to play with in their early childhood years.

Here is an excerpt from the letter I received:

"...If I could adequately express how much BOTH dolls were appreciated, not just by my son, but by my husband and I, I would. The first doll, who we ordered before we were expecting any children with the intention of giving her to our first child, ended up serving a very special purpose. Our first pregnancy, sadly, ended in a miscarriage. When we returned from the hospital, we put away all the baby things but kept your doll out. Having her near helped me to heal and keep a positive outlook during this hard time.

So not only have your dolls been wonderful for children, but at least two adults- my husband and I- have also found them to be a great comfort. Your work is immensely meaningful.

Our son has just come back from buying bread with his Daddy- and of course, Baby went with them. He woke up this morning and kissed her before making her pretend to kiss me. She is bringing out his kind, gentle nature. I think more little boys should be given dolls to love at such an early age. "

Receiving this letter made me cry. Yes, all boys need dolls. Maybe even the grown-up ones - at times... I love making dolls but the there is no better reward than receiving such a letter with cute pictures attached like the ones above...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

I did it: 1000 Etsy Sales and What it Means...

I did it! I reached my goal and made it to 1000 items sold in my Etsy shop yesterday! And it's not even Thanksgiving yet. But it's time to the say Thank You! Thank you so much, to Amanda from JustHatched, who purchased that 1000th item and took me to the finish line! Thank you also to Mary, Sheila, Jenny, Nancy, and all my other great customers whose names I can't recall at this very moment. I am so excited. Kind of like an actor that just won the academy awards.

But in the excitement lets not forget that it took me over 3 years - 3 years of hard work, countless hours of cutting, sewing, crocheting, embroidering, taking pictures, writing, listing, and calloused fingers to rack up that many sales.

I guess I really need to thank Etsy too, since having Etsy as a sales venue really helped me get my work out there! So, I thank you Etsy! Though I often gripe about you and your wonky ways of doing business, I love you dearly, and I wouldn't have sold a thing without you.

Am I rich and famous now? Let's not kid ourselves. I am barely making enough to help with some of the bills of our little household. Sometimes I wake up at night and fret thinking I should get a real job. Reality check: I don't make enough with my dolls to support the family. Will I ever? Is it even possible to make a living working in a cottage industry in this world?

Well, today I am going to celebrate. I got a good reason. Plus I got the sweetest letter from a customer who says her little boy is inseperable from his new baby. I may not be rich with money, but there are other more important riches in life! Don't you forget that a minute, you starving artists out there! Think of all the smiles we put on kids' faces with our toys and beautiful creations! Money is a necessary evil in this world. It pays the bills but it does not feed the soul...

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Big Sis'

Big Sis' didn't quite make it out of the door yesterday. She waved Good Bye to Little Sister. Now she is sitting patiently in a chair waiting to go on the big trip...She had to wait a tad longer because she needed a slightly bigger wardrobe. You know, formal teas require extra special clothing. You can't eat cucumber sandwiches or enjoy a scone wearing rags...LOL

Big Sister loves the outdoors. Here she is saying Good Bye to the big oaktree in front of my studio windows. No worries though. There are lots of big old trees in Merry Old England, right!

It took me a while to make these cute little Acorn Booties to match big sisters green Acorn Dress. But I think they look fabulous and will be a hit in the London fashion scene...

Monday, November 8, 2010

Bye Bye Baby

I have been working on two dolls at the same time. One custom order was a sort of emergency call by a person who had bought a doll long time ago. The dolls I created are very similar in looks. Both have brown eyes and brown hair. Only one of them has long hair - the other short hair. So I called them Big and Little Sis'! For sure, they must be related!

As they came to life in my little studio, they became rather good friends - chatting, hanging out together, pondering their new lives in different places.

Today their suitcases are packed, and they will leave town and go on a long trip. Little Sis' appeared very worried. What will life on the East Coast be like? I told her that a little boy named Alfredo will be so happy to meet her. He lost another doll I made for his family. Hopefully little Sis' will be able to fill the big hole that was left when his first baby was lost in the streets of Philadelphia. I wonder who took in this baby? Why wasn't it returned by the finder. Hopefully she is safe!

Big Sister is moving to a foreign country. She is quite excited about her new adventures living near London, Great Britain. I told her how pretty and green it is there in the summers. I know, because I lived there for a year when I was a teenager. But that's another story I must tell you later.

Maybe Big Sister will even get to see the Queen of England! I hear she just joined Facebook, my friends! Long Live the Queen!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Employees Only!

It's been three weeks since I fell down the stairs in our house and hurt my bottoms. It still hurts a lot. Strangely enough sitting is not a problem these days. So I have been sewing up a storm trying to catch up on my custom orders. It's mostly when I am trying to sleep that I am being reminded of the my strange predicament. I don't understand this at all.

The children felt really bad for causing the fall by leaving the blanket on the stairs. They understand that I am really grumpy these days for lack of sleep. So they made me cookies a few times already. Today I found this strange sign on the door to our kitchen. What the heck? At first I thought it was a comment about us parents...

I walked closer and had a good laugh. Must have been a sign my daughter saw at the restaurant...How cute is that?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Last Harvest

Our community garden patch looks a bit sad now that Winter is approaching fast. Time for the final clean-up!

The dads went and harvested the last of our squashes this past weekend. We are happy to report a total of about 20 Zucca Baruccas. We have yet to make the famous ravioli recipe from Marcella's Cookbook.

Why? Because we cannot find Amaretto cookies in this town nor anywhere near here. Stan must have visited every grocery store, natural and unnatural, in a 100 mile radius. No luck! DH says we are silly. Why be such slaves to following a recipe to the t.

So for now all that is being served is Pumpkin muffins, pumpkin pie, pumpkin gnocchi. They must put those cookies on the shelf for Christmas soon? Or will we break down and cheat on the recipe?