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....