Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Why would you use a Bobbin Sidewinder?

Yes, I have seen this gadget around sewing machine shops for many many years. I often stared at them and wondered what they were for. What is a bobbin sidewinder? My mother certainly never owned one. Why would you buy a $100 gadget that does something your sewing machine already does?

But the more I thought about it during the course of this year the more I thought this gadget may be a very useful thing to own when you sew a lot.

Me, figuring out my new gadget...

Now here are my top reasons to justify the cost of owning this little machine:

1. In some sewing machines - especially older ones - the bobbin thread process actually uses the same guides as the sewing process. Luckily in my machine it does not! But for those folks: here you are working on a project and are getting low on bobbin thread in the middle of it. It's very annoying to have to set your project aside, unthread the top thread, change the settings on the machine, wind new thread, change setting back, and then you get to go back to your project. Despite the fact that I have a better sewing machine with a get-up to wind thread apart from the sewing guides,  I still find that I have to unthread because I don't own that many spools of the same color thread. Being a small business I can only afford to keep so many spools of thread around... Sigh! So I mostly end up unthreading the machine and then rethreading it when I am done winding the bobbin. Big pain in the neck!

2.On days when I sew a lot my foot gets really tired of pushing the foot peddle. Believe it or not: I sometimes get problems with my ankle from it. I get cramps in my foot and the ankle really hurts...The sidewinder means less peddle pushing. Just push the little switch and you are back in business with the bobbin.

3.Why burn up the motor of your wonderful high-class sewing machine to do this low-class job?  Does the queen do her own dishes? Pffff...

4. Lately my machine's bobbin winder has been giving me a bit of trouble. It sometimes creates horrible little nests of thread when winding a bobbin. What to do with those nests? They are really for the birds and pretty much wasted thread. Could it be my fault because I am pressing down the presser foot unevenly or could it be that my bobbin winder is actually breaking? I am afraid to take it to the sewing shop to find out. I have read on various sewing websites that it costs $100 plus if this mechanism actually breaks on your machine. So one might as well invest in the sidewinder.

5.Now I could actually sit down and wind a number of bobbins for the next project because it's so fast and easy. I could tell my 10-year-old to do it for me.

So  you can imagine how very happy I was when Santa brought me a Bobbin Sidewinder. It's really easy to use and works so fast from what I can tell. But I will let you know how it goes...

Thank you so much, Santa! I think my new toy is the best in the house. Shh. Don't tell the kids or they will all want to play with it. LOL

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas - Frohe Weihnachten

Wishing all of my friends, blog followers, and customers Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year!

                                              Thanks so much for all your support in 2011!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Cookies at the Last Minute...

Finally...I closed my Etsyshop, and I am slowly getting caught up with family duties. I baked Christstollen three days ago, and yesterday we made some Christmas cookies. Despite the hurry and being totally stressed out at the countdown to Christmas, our baked goods turned out fabulous.
My favorite recipe of all is actually a Swiss Christmas cookie called "Baseler Leckerli" (Lecker means yummy. Little yummy cookies in translation). Sorry if this recipe comes too late for your Christmas preparations. Maybe you can use it next year. But frankly if I had not gotten to make them with the kids this week I would have done it after Christmas. They are too good to be skipped for a year. For me they are the next best thing to the Lebkuchen/ Gingerbread I miss from Germany...


wet ingredients:
1 cup  honey
3/4 cup  brown sugar
1/4 cup  butter
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 nutmeg, freshly grate is best
1 egg beaten

dry ingredients:

3 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon  salt
1/4 teaspoon  soda

1/4 cup of finely chopped candied lemon peel
1/4 cup of finely chopped candied orange peel
2 tablespoons of Kirschwasser or orange juice

3/4 cups finely ground filberts or hazelnuts

Melt butter in a saucepan and add honey, brown sugar, and the spices to it. Heat this mix and stir it until the sugar has dissolved and all is well mixed together. Beat the egg. Add it to the ingredients in the pot. Be careful that the mixture is not too hot or your egg will get cooked! The mixture in the pot should has to be cooled down before the egg is added! Pour it in a medium sized bowl.

Sift the flower and add the salt and soda to it.

Chop the  candied orange and lemon peel and soak in the Kirschwasser or Orange juice for a few minutes.

Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients in the bowl by the tablespoon stirring it until all is incorporated. It's going to be a heavy sticky dough. Next stir in the candied fruit. Last add the ground hazelnuts. Place cookie dough in the refrigerator for at least an hour. I like to rest it overnight...

Roll out the cookie dough on a lightly floured surface to about 1/4 of an inch of thickness. We like to use small cookie cutters. We usually get about 200-250 cookies from this recipe. You bake them on a greased cookie sheet for 6-7 minutes at 400 degree Fahrenheit. You know they are done when the edges turn lightly brown. It's best to work with 3 cookies sheets and have them ready and rolling.

I guess the biggest hassle for me each year is the hazelnuts. In Germany hazel- or filbert nuts are sold shelled in a package like you would buy any other nut. In the US I have to buy whole nuts in the shell each year. Good thing is I have my personal little Nutcrackers...The kids crack the nuts for me, and I grind them in the food processor. It's quite a mess and takes a bit of time. I dread the process each year. But once the cookies fill the house with their awesome smell, I know it was so worth it.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Jesse Tree

Every Christmas our church sets up a Jesse Tree during advent season. In his article about The Jesse Tree and its' origin Dennis Bratcher talks about how Christians have tried to include the tree symbol in churches these days.
While nearly everyone has a Christmas tree, there has been reluctance in some circles to incorporate Christmas trees into the church sanctuary, arising from suspicions about the pagan origin of the symbol. However, since the Christmas tree has become such a part of Christmas celebration around the world, it seems more important to give it some clearly Christian meaning.
(quoted from Dennis Bratcher)
Bratcher also talks about Jesse Trees as a way to keep time like an advents calendar. People use the trees to hang ornaments and tell Christian stories. Our church has had a Jesse Tree for many years. But it's completely different from the ideas described on the Christian website I found.

Our youth director collects the names of children in our community who are in need. The Jesse Tree is decorated with pretty gift hangtags with the name, age, and the item a child wishes for for Christmas.
Our children are often surprised at what these children ask for. What kid would ask for clothes for Christmas? Blue Jeans or a sweatshirt? We are not rich, yet richer than most that we do not worry about having basic clothing items...
Each year our children get to pick out a boy and girl to buy a gift for. Then we go shopping for the gifts together as a family. This year our daughter picked a little girl named Michaela whose tag said: 5 years old needs some shoes size 13. I have never seen my daughter struggle this much with the task of buying a gift for the Jesse Tree. I guess it was harder this year because she wanted a pair of new boots for herself so badly. Since her old ones from last year still fit her we had told her "No". The idea that her parents were spending $25 on a strange child was hard to grasp. She kind of left the store sulking.

It's hard as a parent not to cave in and buy my kid some boots too. But this was not a trip about buying stuff for ourselves. It was about giving to other people who have so much less than we do. Once we arrived home and my daughter started wrapping the gift, she got more and more excited about giving this gift to the little girl. By the time we took it to church to place it under the tree she was all smiles and happy as a lark!

I think it's such an important lesson to teach kids: Often there is more Joy in Giving than Receiving! Merry Christmas, little Micheala!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Today is the Day!

I keep saying that to myself. Today is the day I will bake some Christmasstollen. Or maybe start some cookie dough for the kids to mess with. But then another day goes by, and all I do is catch up with my orders. On top of that we are having a Christmas Party on Sunday. Got to shop for treats and clean house. I really could use some Elves here.

I sighed a big sigh of relief when I got this last custom doll finished and in the mail. Looks like she arrived safe and sound. At least one thing I don't have to worry about now...
Please, keep your fingers crossed that the family won't toss me out in the streets for being the world's lousiest housekeeper!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Piles of Packages

This season has definitely been the craziest for me ever. Each morning I have been packing 4-5 packages to ship out. I am just so glad I don't have to stand in those endless lines at the PO. They are getting longer and longer each day.

But then I had a small disaster yesterday. One of my packages got stuck in a shoot at the PO. I had to go to the counter after all and ask for help clearing the shoot so I could put the rest of my mail in.

My theory about it is that each post office has different-sized mailshoots. The one downtown has the biggest one. Makes sense, right? The bigger the Post Office the bigger the shoot! But my mailcarrier didn't think so. Her theory was that the shoot was just too full to accomodate my package and that's why my package got stuck in there. I think I may have to stand in line after all. Or sit by my door each day and wait for my carrier to pick up my piles of packages.
Meanwhile I have not made much progress on my Christmas presents for the family. How does Santa do it? Does Mrs. Santa and the Elves ever get a present?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Last Night at The 2011 Nutcracker

Everybody was so excited for the first performance of this year's Colorado Dance Theatre Nutcracker edition...

Featuring over a hundred local kids. Unfortunatly I didn't get too many good shots of the many different character's. Since I signed up to help with make-up I got only two photos for you.

Junior CandyCane

A very excited Clown

I apologize for abandoning my blog this time of year. When I am not shipping orders you can find me painting clown faces this week. I wish there were more hours in the day. But isn't that how we all feel this time of year. Hope you are having as much fun as I do this season!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Ella in her Teacups Dress

Ellen 1, originally uploaded by germandolls.

Meet little Ella. She is ready to attend your tea party. I promise her manners are impeccable and she knows how to sit still.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Arctic Cold

Brrr. It is so cold here. We had a low of 7 degree Fahrenheit last night (about minus 20 Celsius, my German friends). The only comfortable room in this house is the living room, next to the fireplace. This is the time of year when doll making is the most fun. I want to make myself a little cocoon with the wool I am working with. Too bad I can't. I need it all for stuffing the dolls.

In the mean time we also had snowfall number 3 and 4. Only 22 more snowfalls to go. Great!
Meanwhile the children had fun using the icicles for props. Remember that TV show "Whose line is it anyway?". I used to love that show. My favorite part was when the actors were presented with styrofoam props and had to make up a little story with them.

My kids did this with icicles this week.

The boy pretended to be a saber-tooth tiger from  Iceage....

The girl faked having a snotty nose from a really bad cold. LOL

I don't like going outside when it's this cold. But I am glad that the temperature are more winter-like and the freakish hot weather has finally come to an end....

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

On My Workbench this Week...

So the little elves are getting busy for the dash to the finishline. Where did November go? I don't have a clue. Between finishing last custom dolls and getting a few new nightgowns in my Etsyshop I barely get out of my little studio. I love that new kitten fabric. Isn't it the cutest thing ever?

Good thing I put up a lot of pesto for the winter. When I get in a pinch I can pull a few cubes of pesto out of the freezer and make a delightful meal in a flash. The kids love it, and  soon after I can go back to my workbench. Now I just need someone to do the dishes and laundry for me...

Other than that I have to keep up with my two posts per week on the NaturalKids blog. I hope you get a chance to pop over there and read my latest contribution about why I am agains canned food. Not like I have time to waste on cooking beans these days. But let me tell you, they taste so much better than what you buy in a can.

So I am sorry for checking not in much this week. I hope I'll do better once the workbench get's less crowded and the elves finish the long list of items Santa ordered them to make. Good thing the elves love their job. ;)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Cyber Monday Sale in my Etsyshop

Hi peeps,

Sorry if I got this up a bit late today. I am just so darn busy with the dolls and Thanks giving was a bit stressy too this year. But I am slowly getting caught up.
So I just created a coupon code for my shop. In case you were wondering and hoping for a sale in my shop. Here it is:

Sale is only thru today! So hurry up and get the items you had your heart set on!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Winner of the 500 FB Fan Giveaway

The winner of my 500th fan FB giveaway is Emily Strickland. Congratulations, Emily!

The winner must contact me within 48 hours of this announcement. You can reach me through my Etsyshop via conversation or send me note on Facebook.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

500 Facebook Fan Giveaway

Okay, peeps. I am near the finishline here of reaching the 500th FB fan. Looks like some people are fickle. They drop me, but luckily soon a new person gets on. I find it so very confusing...I kind of get upset when somebody quits my site. I really wish I knew why they do it. Reminds me of the days when I was a kid playing in the sandbox. Suddenly one of the kids will say to me: You are not my friend any more! Wahhhhhhhhhhhh! I guess I will never know why they don't like me any more. I wish they told me when they don't like something I am doing.

Anyways, to one lucky kid who remains in the sandbox to play with me: I have decided to give you a $50 shopping spree in my Etsy shop. One kid will be declared the winner of the 500 Fan Giveaway. So make sure you are still a fan when I hit that number. One lucky person will get the some free dollclothes or will be able to use the $50 towards the purchase of one of my handmade dolls. Please, note that I cannot make any more dolls for this calendar year. My schedule is fuller than full. But tell your friends about my Facebook page because I am only 6 people away from 500 fans.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Alphabet...

Things from A - Z  I am grateful for:

A - Air -good mountain air to breathe
B - bread - Fougasse, French bread fresh from the oven
C - Colors - all the colors of the rainbow
D - Dolls - being able to create and sell them
E - Electricity - because when you are in the midst of a storm-induced power outage you really learn to appreciate it!
F - Friends - on Facebook and other places
G - German Accent - I have a sort of love-hate relationship with that one. Some days I get tired of telling people where I am from. But it sure make for interesting conversations, too...
H - Harvest. Of course, what would be more appropriate on Thanksgiving Day? We harvested lots of veggies and got to grow our own watermelon in our community garden patch this year.

I - The Internet and being able to connect with people all over the world
J - Jobs. I am glad my husband has a job and is able to support the family. I pray that each person who needs a job will find one this coming year.
K- Kids. My kids make me smile all day. What would I do without them?
L- Lemons. Because when life gives you lemons, you just make lemonade with them. And we have this saying in German: sauer macht lustig. (sour things make you laugh) so don't lose your sense of humor no matter what!
M - Marcus. My husband, though often he does drive me nuts.
N - Nuts. I love all kinds of nuts. Coconuts. Walnuts. Pecans. Hazel Nuts.
O - Origami. I think paper crafts are so cool.
P - Pizza. I know 90% of kids say that when asked for their favorite food. I like making Pizza from scratch with fresh veggies grown in my garden.
Q - Questions. It's good to have a lot of questions and look for answers all the time. Makes us smarter. It's the people who have all the answers that do scare me...
R - Recycling, reusing, re purposing.
S - Safety. The children say, they are thankful that we live in a country where people are fairly safe from political unrest.
T - Tomatoes from the vine. Okay, it was weird how we had tomatoes to eat from our garden until the end of November this year. Freaky!
U - The movie UP. It's a favorite in our family. The most UP-lifting kid movie I have seen in a while.
V - Verwandtschaft = the German word for relatives. I do miss my family from Germany and hope to make it home soon.
X - X-Factor Show. I hate to admit it, but I do love that show. So much better than American Idol because older folks can be in it. Not that they would ever win in this culture focused on youthfulness...
W - Wool, soft and warm to stuff my dolls with.
Y - You, the people who read my blog.
Z - Zeit - the word time in German. I am grateful for the time I have to create and write.

Now quick do your own alphabet and tell me what things you are grateful for.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Please Check it out! Post about Waste Land

I was so excited. I wrote this long - and what I thought to be engaging - article on the NaturalKids Team blog about the movie Waste Land. Honestly, I spent a long time on this piece of brilliant writing. With the result that I got ONE single comment.
So please, if you see this, can you go on over there and read my post. I would much appreciate you taking the time. Hopefully it will inspire you to watch that awesome documentary.

It's about hope. And who can live without that? So I am hoping you drop me a note.

Promise you are not wasting your time!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Etsy Treasury

I was featured in this cute treasury today...

Thanks so much, Maggie!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

International Shipping of GermanDolls Christmas 2011

It has come to my attention that there are longer THAN USUAL delays in shipments to various parts of the world. Let me give you an example: My last package to Germany took over 5 weeks. Not sure why customs all over the world has taken it upon themselves to hurt small businesses in such a way. Do they sit there and roll the dice on whose package makes it through? Is there a system? Or maybe it's the Postal Services' fault? I am not sure who is to blame here. I am sad I have to make this announcement. Almost as sad as Duke when he found out he wasn't allowed to come to the baseball game this summer...

Dear International Customers,

I just want to let you know that I dearly love you people in Canada, Australia, UK, Belgium, and other places I normally ship to. I don't want you to walk in my Etsyshop and buy doll clothes or dolls - all hopeful that your items can still arrive on time for Christmas. To save you from disappointment and myself a huge headache, I went ahead and changed all my listings to US shipping only.

Of course, if you still want to order because:

 a) you are an optimist and know good fortune will lead your dollorder to your house on time or

b)you have connections in customs or know the Postmaster General in person or

c) it's not really a Christmas present and you don't care when it arrives you just WANT IT

In those cases you can contact me, and I will gladly make you your own personal listing to purchase now.

   Your Faithful German Dollmaker

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Key-ing - An American Sport? Schluesseln - eine Amerikanische Sportart?

The word keying had not been part of my vocabulary at all. I guess my high school English teachers didn't know about it, it never came up in any of the novels I read in college, and when living in England I never heard this term either. It must be a new kind of "sport". Let me explain this to those of you who are complete innocents like me or those of you who are foreign to these parts:
Keying is when somebody takes a key and makes a big fat scratch on the paint of your car.

Das Wort "keying" oder schluesseln in direkter Uebersetzung war mir nicht bekannt bis vor Kurzem. Keying oder "schluesseln" bedeutet, wenn jemand einen Schluessel nimmt und damit einen riesigen Kratzer auf Deinem Auto hinterlaesst...Seufz.

Why am I talking about this? Well, a couple of days ago my son's 7th grade basketball team had a game against another school in a little town about 1 hour's drive from our town. Emotions had been hot, since our team won the last game against this team in a close game during overtime. I guess I did not realize how hot people were, until we visited their gym two weeks later, thisTuesday night. From the get go everything seemed rigged against us. There were strange calls. Refs calling fouls on our kids and a few discussion ensued about the running of the clock. Despite everything our team managed to win.

Warum erzaehle ich davon? Vor zwei Tagen hatte unsere Basketballmannschaft ein Spiel in einer kleinen Stadt ca. eine Stunde Autofahrt entfernt von hier. Die Woche davor hatte unsere Mannschaft diese Mannschaft besiegt, und die Emotionen waren ziemlich hochgefahren. Mir war nicht bewusst, wie hoch, bis zu diesem Revanchespiel am Dienstag. Von Anfang an schien das Spiel zu unseren Ungunsten zu laufen. Da gab es ein paar Fehlentscheidungen der Schiedsrichter und merkwuerdigeUnstimmigkeiten mit der Stoppuhr...Trotzdem gewann unsere Mannschaft das Spiel.

It often boggles the German mind how people get so worked up about youth sports in the US. Not that I don't enjoy cheering for my kids and watching their games. But when I see how out of control parents get here, I fondly remember the days of my youth when I was on a table tennis team in Germany. My parents never went to the matches and could have cared less about the results. They were happy I had some safe place to be and get some exercise. I think my coach was the only person who ever got worked up over our team's losses.

Ich finde es wirklich befremdlich als hier lebende Deutsche, wie sehr sich manche Leute ueber die Spiele von Jugendlichen aufregen. Natuerlich seh' ich gerne zu wenn meine Kinder spielen und gewinnen, aber ich verstehe nicht, wenn Leute so vollkommen ausser Kontrolle geraten. Da bekomme ich direkt nostalgische Erinnerungen an die Zeiten in meinem Tischtennisverein in meiner Jugend. Meine Eltern kamen nie zu den Spielen und interessierten sich kaum dafuer. Die waren nur froh, dass ich ueberhaupt Sport machte und Bewegung hatte. Hier hofft jeder auf die grosse Karriere im Sport und Millionenvertraege, und viele Eltern scheinen ihr Leben durch ihre Kinder zu leben...

I am often taken aback when I see how out of control some parents get when watching their kids play sports. I have seen people yell at their kids, coaches, and taunt other fans and their players. I have seen a mother going after a child after a baseball match giving him "a-talking-to" because he supposedly injured her child. I missed a fistfight in our area that actually made it onto National TV last year...But what took the cake the other night, was that one of the mom's from our team found that her car was vandalized after Tuesday's game. How nuts is that? What kind of person would wonder up to stranger's car and put a big fat scratch all around the vehicle? I am still floored by the ugliness of this particular American past time of random violence against a perfect stranger. I guess one shouldn't put a sticker of one's team on the car because you never know what people might do if they happen to be the losers of a game...

Ich habe schone viele komische Situationen erlebt bei solchen Spielen hier. Da sieht man Eltern ihre Kinder, die Trainer, oder andere Fans anschreien. Ich sah eine Mutter, die so weit ging und hat ein Kind nach einem Baseballspiel verfolgte und auf uebelste Weise anfuhr, weil es angeblich ihr Kind verletzt haette..Aber meine neueste schlimme Erfahrung war diese Schluesselaktion vom Dienstag. Eine Mutter von unserer Mannschaft fand am naechsten Tag einen riesigen Kratzer im Lack rund um ihr ganzes Auto herum. Da fragt man sich ob diese Leute noch alle Tassen im Schrank haben...Eine komische amerikanische Sportart...

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sibling Dolls - Sisters

I just completed this set of sibling dolls. I think they look so cute together.

Monday, November 14, 2011

And the world didn't end ...Yet.

One of my Facebook friends predicted the other day jokingly that the world would end on 11/11/11. All sorts of funny commentary followed her predictions.

Well, as we all know now, the world did not end, and the only thing that did end this last week is my pile of sticks. The City or Greeley finally came and picked up the stick pile left behind by the huge storm two weeks ago. They came with giant machines and trucks to clean up the 20 X 10 foot pile in the street. It's weird to be able to look out my window again with an unobstructed view. I kind of miss seeing the birds play in the pile. They certainly had fun in it.

I suppose I should be happy and grateful to the City workers. Yet I can't help but feel uneasy about the state of the world. Yesterday the announcement came through the news that the carbon monoxide output of the world has reached new record numbers. Judging from the pollution it doesn't look like we are in an economic crisis at all.

As I sit there sewing up my little dolls I worry about my own carbon footprint. What about my very own actions as a manufacturer of goods? Are my dolls adding to the world's problems rather than helping? I like to think that making dolls from natural fibers and doing a lot of the work by hand is a good thing. But maybe selling them online shipping them all over the world is not. Wow. It's so depressing when they use such terms on the news as "catastrophic" climate change.

The empty space left by the dead trees downed by this last storm serves as a reminder that when nature wreaks havoc we humans are often left truly powerless. What if we create a mess that cannot be cleaned up? We must change our ways or else there may not be a future for our kids and grand kids. What are you doing to lessen your carbon footprint today?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I love this Doll

Erins Doll copy, originally uploaded by germandolls.

I had to put another picture of her on my blog. Soon I will have to ship her to her new home. I hope the little girl who receives her for Christmas will enjoy her as much as I enjoyed making this sweet gal!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Big Mistake in the Recipe

Please don't shoot me. I made a huge mistake in my recipe the other day: For the layered applecake or gedeckter Apfelkuchen it should read:

4 teaspoons of baking POWDER and NOT Soda!!!

Germans don't really use the other stuff (soda). I hope you read this and don't get upset with me in case you tried my recipe and it didn't work out.

Sorry! I suppose one shouldn't try and do two recipes at once...

Since the last time I have made this cake again. Everybody loved it so much that they begged for it. This time around I added the almond slivers on top. I also used chopped sauted apples instead of the applesauce. It was even better!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Free Shipping on Flannel Nightgowns Today

If you have been looking to buy a Nightgown to put under the Christmastree this is your chance to get one delivered to you at low cost. Shipping on flannel Nightgowns is FREE today only. I have been working hard all of last night to change all listings to make them free. If you find I missed one that you wanted to order, please let me know and I can fix it. Remember this deal is for today and on the flannel only.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Fabric of the Season

I am so happy. After years of searching for the perfect Christmas fabric with Nutcracker dolls on it finally success. I found this beautiful maroon red colored fabric that has the cutest bright Nutcrackers on it.

It's only the fifth year my daughter is in the local Nutcracker production. Practices have been running since late September. Now they are in full gear as the performance date rolls closer. There must be hundreds of little girls in Nutcracker productions all over the US...Why is there so little fabric in stores dealing with the theme? Huge mistake, you fabric makers! My daughter was so excited when she saw the cloth on my table. Of course each little girl participating in the ballet production dreams that one day they may be featured as the main character Clara...It's a long shot since it takes many many years of dancing to achieve that skill level.

Pst!  Don't tell my daughter that she will be getting one of these:

I was so excited finishing the first set of them. The Nutcracker doll lives in the dress pocket and can go marching about your house chasing after pesky mice and rats...=)

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Importance of Feedback

Last year right around this time I reached the milestone of 1,000 sales in my Etsyshop. You can read the note I wrote about it here.

Yesterday I reached another one of those little milestones: I received my 1,000th feedback comment. Yay! I am actually at 1,003. Thanks so much to all of you who have helped me out in that department.

I LOVE to read my feedback comments. Even better if somebody sends me a cute picture like the one above! As they say a picture speaks a million words...Pictures make me smile and my heart go pitter-patter.

In fact I get downright depressed when somebody doesn't leave me a note after receiving a doll or package. If they don't I worry that they didn't like the doll or dollclothes I made. If you have an Etsyshop or on-line business of any kind you must understand. Feedback is like this little pat on the back that says:" Well done! Good Job! I love your work, and I am so glad I found your shop."

After all in the virtual world of selling there is often no real face connected to the customer. Unless, of course, I know you from FB. That's why everyone loves it so much, right? Still, not everybody uses their own picture...Some people sport dogpictures, cartoons, or even plants. At the end of the day contact is limited to exchanges of emails and Feedback at the end of a transaction. Yet, curiously one finds that Social Media has made it possible to add more personality to the salesprocess. If a customer comes back after over a year and orders a new dress for a doll they bought, I often instantly remember which doll and can almost see the child in front of me.

Virtual stores are a curious thing. Don't you think? So please, don't forget to leave your on-line seller Feedback if you are happy with their service. If you are not happy, please let us know, too. It really helps us out a lot. We love this little pat on the back, and it keeps us going on days when sales are not so great!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Cooking up a Storm...

When it gets cold outside I like to cook and bake. Living in a drafty old house it's the only way to survive the cold winter. While Hubby and kids go off to work or school  I must stay home in the cold cave. Once the fire in the wood stove dies I flee to the kitchen and turn on the burners plus stove. Shh. Don't tell them!
So I cooked up a storm yesterday.

1. I baked a butternut squash and transformed it into the most delightful soup for dinner
2. I made a "gedeckter Apfelkuchen". It's the closest thing Germans have compared to an apple pie.

Ingredients for Butternut Squash Soup:

1 big butternut squash
1/2 cup of dried black beans
1 liter of chicken broth
red bell pepper chopped
garlic, minced
chorizo sausages or other hot sausage links
pepper and salt to taste

Cut your Butternut Squash in half. Scoop out the little pocket with the seeds. Put the two cut sides down in a baking pan with about 1/4 inch of water in it. Bake in the stove at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about an hour or until soft when stabbed with a fork.

Take another pot and throw in some black beans with water. Boil for about two hours until soft. Ah, it' s already getting warmer in the house!

Next prepare the dough for the apfelkuchen.

Ingredients for Apfelkuchen: (adapted from Backen macht Freude)

350 g flour
100 g sugar
2 eggs
4 teaspoons of baking powder
milk (recipe called for 4 Tablespoons but I added quite a bit more because the air was very dry)
150 g butter
1 packet of vanilla sugar

2 cups of applesauce, mine was homemade, I added raisins to it.

Throw all the ingredients (except for ONE of the eggs and the apple sauce) in a bowl and kneed them together. Wrap your dough ball in Saran wrap and put in refrigerator. It can rest while squash is baking. Ah, perfect timing. Now you can go and do something else. Maybe chop some wood or shovel the driveway...

Once you get back in the house the squash is ready to go. Who said they were cold? A lovely wave of heat hits me as I enter the kitchen. Beans are getting soft and it's time to deal with the squash. Pull it from the oven and scoop the meat out and reserve.

Time to get back to the cake! Get your dough from the fridge and cut it in half. Take the first half and roll it out flat to fit in a baking pan/sheet that's about 30x40 cm. Hmm, since I don't have anything that size I just took whatever came close... See picture.
Spread your applesauce mix on top of the layer of dough in the pan. Take the second half of the dough and roll it out flat. Same size as the first piece. Now come the tricky part: Moving the second sheet of dough and putting it on top of the applesauce. No different from making an apple pie really. You have to fold it up and then unfold it. Right? It's just a bit bigger...

Hopefully your oven is still nice and hot from baking that squash. Temperature needs to be about 375 Fahrenheit. So great, you can turn it up a bit more. =)
Make an egg wash by mixing one egg yolk and a tablespoon of milk. The German cookbook calls for sliced almonds on top. I didn't have any so just the egg wash will do. Brush it on. Stab the cake a few times with a fork to create some holes for steam to escape. Put it in your oven and bake for 25-30 minutes - until top is golden brown.

Back to the soup. Add chicken broth to your squash chunks and puree. Add the clove of minced garlic. Add the cooked black beans. Throw in some yellow corn if you have it. Add some chopped bell pepper. Add little pieces of your cooked hot sausage links. I don't add them to the pot since my daughter doesn't like spicy food. So you can just have the sausage in a little bowl to the side. Vegetarians can leave it out too.

You'd think there would be easier ways to keep the house warm. But not as delicious. Dinner is ready to go. Time to make some dolls...

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Blizzard 2011 Round Two

A wise old woman told my daughter the other day: If we get snow on October 26th that means there will be 26 snowfalls this season. Looks like she was right!
What the heck?

We got blizzard number 2 last night. I swear these pictures are new and not last week's - though they do look kind of the same the only difference being that I have a huge pile of snowcovered sticks in front of my house...

I think I'll stay put and keep making dolls. I have no desire to drive about and see more fallen treelimbs. We lost a couple more in the backyard. I thought there was nothing left. But I was wrong. We will be adding to our pile once the snow melts. Wish me luck!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

The family spent all weekend cleaning up the mess from last week's storm. I feel like Hercules after cleaning the Augean stables. My back hurts and I am soooo sore from all the lifting, chopping, and dragging of dead tree limbs. Supposedly the city will pick up the pile of brush we put out by the street. It's "only" a pile about 5 feet tall and 20 feet wide...

The kids had fun playing on the pile. I couldn't help but smile though my heart was heavy looking at my dead Italian plum tree. No more plum cakes. Sniffle.

Hope all those Trick-or-Treaters  are careful tonight. It's going to be difficult maneuvering around the brush piles on our street. I swear ours is the highest and longest in the neighborhood.

Can you find the second child in this picture?

Happy Halloween! And be safe out there!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

NaturalKids Team Giveaway on SouleMama

Don't miss out on this great Giveaway by the NaturalkKids Team on Soule Mama's blog. You could win a number of cool Natural toys to give away as presents for Christmas!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Images from the Big Snow Storm

I don't think this post requires too many words. The images speak for themselves...
You can see what we woke up to on Wednesday morning. From a perfectly golden mild October we went to Winterwonderland in the blink of an eye.

I am just really sad to think about all the trees that got destroyed in this massive snowstorm. This is what happens when one foot of snow falls on trees that are still in their fall attire.

The destruction is epic. Our backyard looks like a bomb hit. Fruit trees that we nursed for years fell victim to large branches from the neighbor's old trees that fell on top of them.

On the positive side: My husband put the car in the garage. The truck only lost one of the side mirrors. Nobody in our neighborhood got hit by a falling branch. The power is working again and I can make coffee on the kitchen stove instead of the wood stove. I have the Internet and my computer back...
I am glad to be back to relatively normal!