Friday, July 27, 2012

Acorn Child

Fall, where are you? I keep waiting patiently for the cooler weather. I really am!

I made another sweet fall child to speed up the process. Here is a sweet Acorn Child. She doesn't have a name yet. Do you know a child who is very impatient and likes to climb trees?

Dresses won't stop her! Catch her if you can!

The wind was kicking up as I was trying to take the photos. But this doll is fearless. She quickly scaled one of the top branches of our sweet cherry tree. Too bad the cherries are all gone....

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Introducing: Daily Doll Deal

Every day I will offer one item in my Etsyshop at a deeply discounted price.  I will call this my "Daily Doll Deal".

Today I am offering the sweet fall baby doll I created for a great price. I normally sell these at $150.

So if you are looking for a sweet affordable handmade doll keep snatch her up. Deal lasts one day only!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Lunchbox Letters

Soon the children will go back to school. Make sure you send them back with a healthy lunch and a good dose of love for the day!

My little ones are the perfect companion for lunching at school. They are best served wrapped in a loveletter.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Dreaming of Fall

it's been a rough weekend. the heat in our town has been sweltering. it's hard to get any work done because of the heat and the depressing news of the movie theatre shooting.

you know, our daughter was supposed to go to a speech conference in Denver. because we couldn't come up with the bucks to pay for it after our Europe adventure we stayed home. it was suggested to me that I sent her alone. that she could bunk with one of the other kids.
well, guess what? turns out that some kids from that conference, a group of 12 kids, happened to be in that movie theatre. one teenager was shot by the gunman. from what i understand this kid is doing okay in the hospital.
imagine that. if i had sent my child to Denver alone this weekend. i would have freaked out.

it's really strange to me how these events keep hitting so close to home. why Colorado? why Denver?

I remember helping at my daugther's school a couple of years ago. all of a sudden the teacher was notified that the police had ordered a school lockdown. we locked the classroom doors and closed the windows and blinds. we huddled with the children behind bookshelves.

turned out that the police saw some kids playing with airsoft guns in the neighborhood. we were safe. it was one of scariest moments in my life.

how can we prevent this terror from happening? i know people keep saying it has nothing to do with the ready availability of guns in this nation. all I know is, if I lived in Germany with my family I would not have to worry about these things as much...

maybe if people watched out more for each other, had more compassion for their neighbor, someone would have noticed that something went terribly wrong in "the suspect's" life?

"Each of us must come to care about everyone else's children. We must recognize that the welfare of our children is intimately linked to the welfare of all other people's children." Lilian Katz

there seem to be no easy answers. just more questions. to stay sane we have to keep going and do regular things. despite the heat i cleaned my house from top to bottom this weekend. i organized my sewing room. i finished my little fall baby doll.

i am dreaming of fall and the better cooler days to come...

Saturday, July 21, 2012

No Words...

No words can describe the pain caused in Colorado this Friday. Today I wanted to crawl in a hole and not look at our daily paper. I wanted to hide it from the children - so they may not see what monsters live in this world. How do we keep our children safe?

Please pray for the people affected by this terrible tragedy. Going to the movies will never be the same for me.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Baby loves to Read

And here is baby sitting on her fine new tush enjoying a good read. I had to take a photo of her and her book. Reading is so important. We need to teach the children early. Best when they are babies. Always have lots of books, magazines, and newspapers around. I came across this great quote by Nora Ephron the other day. Since Nora Ephron recently passed away this quote has been pasted all over the internet.

It's such a great quote it cannot be repeated enough:

“Reading is one of the main things I do. Reading is everything. Reading makes me feel I've accomplished something, learned something, become a better person. Reading makes me smarter. Reading gives me something to talk about later on. Reading is the unbelievably healthy way my attention deficit disorder medicates itself. Reading is escape, and the opposite of escape; it's a way to make contact with reality after a day of making things up, and it's a way of making contact with someone else's imagination after a day that's all too real. Reading is grist. Reading is bliss.”
Nora Ephron, I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman

I guess what I would like to add to this great quote is: Don't limit yourself to certain type of media. Read a wide variety of materials including newspapers.

A friend of mine told me recently about a study her twin girls are part of. She had to fill out a survey on reading habits in the household. The mom was supposed to check off what reading materials her family kept around the house. Guess what? Newspapers weren't even on the list. So my friend took a pencil and added it as an option to the survey. Obviously the person who wrote the survey does not get a daily newspaper. The idea of reading a paper was so remote to them it didn't even make it on the list.

Will newspapers be able to survive? My husband and I do get the Denver Post. Like generations before them, our kids started their newspaper journey with Sunday cartoons . Now my 13-year-old always gets up and looks for the sports section first thing in the morning. My 11-year-old loves to read out loud to us dramatic stories about car accidents and wildfires. Some days I want to hide the paper from her...

Do you still get a daily paper and encourage your children to read the paper? Are my and I dinosaurs because we still get a paper?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A bum for my dolls...

I have been "bummed" out about this problem for years: How come my dolls never sit so well? It is a fact that traditional waldorf style patterned dolls have trouble sitting nicely. The original waldorfy pattern does not allow for a real bottom. The doll has a rectangular box-type of shape. The legs fold out from under that box. If you try to sit the doll on a smooth surface - even when you lean it agains a wall - the doll tends to slide down and lay flat. This is especially true when the doll is in the nude and sitting down on a smooth surface.

It's very frustrating for the dollmaker and seller when trying to take photos. It has been bothering me even more lately. So since I am in the process of freshening up my shop and going back to the drawing board I decided to add a "butt" panel to my original doll pattern design.

I took an oval piece of fabric and added it to where I normally just insert the legs. This way the doll gets a more cylindrical shape. I was quite intrigued by the results. The doll can sit nicely on her bottoms without having to lean against an object. From now on dolls will be able to listen to lectures from me about putting on their best smile during photo shoots. I love it!

I think many a doll collector and doll mama will be happier too that their dolls won't keep sliding down when they are trying to pose them on a chair or a bookshelf.

I am very please with how the first prototype doll turned out. Unfortunately I didn't get very good pictures during the process of making this first one. It was too dark in my studio. When it's 100 degrees outside I close all the blinds...Otherwise I'd perish in my little studio that is surrounded by windows.

So the photos here just demonstrate that it is possible to sew some sense into a little dolly. After years you can still improve and tweak a pattern you thought was quite perfect and make it even more so...

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

New Photos of Vee

I took a couple more photos of Vee and found that she is not camera-shy at all. She loved posing for me on the playset.

Some photos were taken on the swing. They were hard to take. First you have to get the doll to sit right. Then you have to wait until the swing is still. Not an easy feat when it's windy outside...

       The pictures on the steps were much easier. How does one take good photos of stuff that is in motion. Darn it. I need a new camera so badly.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Litte Vee

I finished the doll with nose and pink hair yesterday afternoon. It was a great joy to make her. I remember in the past I had struggled a lot with this type of face. Not with this little girl. She was very compliant and easy to work with.

In my opinion noses have to be delicate and rather smallish. If they are too big it makes the doll look like a witch.

I think I did well on little Vee. She doesn't look witch-like at all. Yet she seems magical and sweet.

For now I put her  in this cute pink dress with cars. She may need an outfit that is more of a contrast to color of her hair. Time for a doll fashion show and see what looks best on her. Maybe you would like to help me choose the best combination?

Picking out the clothes and putting them on the doll is my favorite thing to do. It's like dressing a new borne babe. So much fun!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

New Beginnings

It's been the slowest month ever in my Etsyshop. Really? I thought May was bad but looks like I have not reached bottom yet. ZERO sales so far this month. Could this economy stink any more?

I decided to go back to the drawing board and make a doll with a nose. I normally do prefer my dolls without. Why? Well, the simpler dolls with the very basic features and no thrills are my passion. Pure Waldorfy goodness rules!
But since my shop is as dead as a doornail at the moment, I decided to have fun and do some stuff I have not made in a while. So here is a photo of my doll in progress. What do you think? Like her? Any name suggestions?

And then I had a request for a ballerina outfit for a doll I made last year. It's been a long time since I sewed one up. I still remember the very first ballerina outfit I sold many years ago. Got me a glowing review on Feebay. I believe the customer said: "Best thing I ever bought on this site!" I hope she still feels that way about my work.

I had to dig for the pattern. Every year around recital time and Christmas/Nutcracker time I keep thinking: I got to make some leotards and tutus. So well, since I had the time this week I did.

Wow, I am so happy how it turned out. It looks super-adorable on little Celeste. My daughter was pleased and demanded a new one for her baby too.

Folks, I hate to say it but if things don't turn around soon for my little shop, I think I'll just have no option but to find a different job. Anyone need some German translation services? I can do that too.
I think I'll look into substitute teaching for the new year.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Celebrating 5 Years on Etsy

Please, visit my Etsyshop today and enjoy a %10 off coupon. It's been a wild rollercoaster ride.
                          Thanks for being there for me and supporting my little WAHM shop!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Helping Hands

I was recently contacted by the leader of my Etsy team, the NaturalKids team, on behalf on the Hogeland family. They are in the process of adopting a child from Eastern Europe.

We are all broke after our little family vacation. But I thought I can help by donating a couple of my little dolls. The bid is really low on them. Right now it's a mere $5 for two of my precious little ones.

Please consider lending a helping hand to this family to bring little "V" home. Click on this link to see a video about the family.

Here is the link to the Facebook Page. I hope you bid on my little dolls or maybe one of the other cool items.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

German Castle Tour

Have you ever visited a German castle? Here is a photo tour of a castle our family visited this summer. Between the city of Cologn and the city of Mainz there are over 30 castles on both sides of the river Rhein. In addition to the castles you can find, monuments, churches and monasteries and plenty of other sights worth visiting.

Crossing the river by ferry

I spent my Highschool years looking out the window over the river Rhein towards Rudesheim. wishing myself away, thinking I'd rather be hiking up to the Germania instead of another boring Latin lesson...
Another castle on the river...

  In the first picture you get to see what it actually looks like when you cross the river with a ferry. The ferry in Bingen is big enough to carry a number of cars. For 6.50 Euro (for family of 4 with car) you can drive onto the ferry and they will take you across to Rudesheim. You can hike up the the Germania statue. Or you can continue your drive along the river.
We did the latter and drove along the banks of the river for about an hour towards the town of Braubach where the Marksburg is located. You can stop at other castles. We had our mind set on this one castle.

During my childhood I had visited many castles with my family or on field trips with my school. Since the Marksburg was not conveniently close I had never seen this particular castle. I chose to show it to my family because it is the only castle along that stretch of the river that was never destroyed and has been continuosly lived in for 800-900 years.

During the summer months you can get tours every hour between 10AM and 6PM. The English tour is offered twice dayly (at noon and 4PM).  A ticket for the whole family costs only 15 Euros. I thought that was really cheap compared to the price of many sights in the city of Barcelona we had just visited...

You can drive up a narrow driveway to the castle and park your car just below a short walkway up to the castle. The walk is barely 5 minutes from there.

The view down towards the river valley is stunning.

View over the castle wall down into the valley

The children loved seeing the old canons and canonballs that were used over time to defend the castle. They were also used to charge money to passers-by as the way for the castle-lords to make a living. Since the river was used as a main passageway for transportation of goods, people charged money for "safe passage".

Pay or else...

Note how entryway was narrowed down to make passage smaller for defense purposes! Windows above were used to poar hot oil and other fun stuff at attackers...
You can also see an old wine cellar with cascets and wine making equipment. Back in the day, we were told, Germans consumed on average 3 liters of win per person per day (children included). The alcohol content was much lower though and people drank it like water with their meals. Some Germans still do...

We got to peek into the castle bedrooms, servants' kitchen and dining room, noblemen's dining room, chapel, and saw a castle toilet. The childrens' favorite were the rooms that showed different armor over time and a secret narrow passageway used to escape the enemy.

Servants' kitchen and dining area
Knights Dining Area

Armor through time...

I very much hope you enjoyed this tour and get the chance to visit a German castle yourself some day. I know travel is not cheap but if you can somehow manage to afford such a trip you should do it. It is an amazing invaluable experience for children to see history so close up and personal. We may be broke for a while now but it was worth every penny!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Price of Nationalism...

There was one odd thing I noticed going back to Germany this year. There were lots of flags everywhere. Many apartments and houses had flags hanging from their balconies. What is going on? Was it just because of the EU Soccercup was going on? Or are things changing in Germany and it has become acceptable again to show national pride?

We learned about a new item being sold called the "car bikini". They are little slip covers in the colors of your flag that you can put over the sidemirrors of your car. The car bikinis were sold in combination with sets of flags to attach to the windows of your car. I guess we came late to the party since most grocery stores were already out. I am sure they would be a great hit here in the US if someone had the mind to market such an item.

I had very mixed feelings about this display of Nationalism in Germany. On the one hand, I thought it was nice to celebrate how well the soccerteam was doing and enjoy the moment. On the other, there was always hesitation to fully embrace this weird kind of Nationalism. I think we must be very careful to not fall into the same trap again. I wonder if all the slipcovers and flags came down after the Germany lost the game against Italy?

Maybe you want to read one of my older articles I wrote on this subject a few years back.

So when celebrating this 4th of July, I want to tell my kids that they can be proud of their American heritage and traditions, but also to keep  in mind that we share this planet with a lot of other people and we need to live in peace with them. That's why I showed the war memorials at the cemetary of the little village were I grew up. I wanted them to see how many men lost their lives fighting in these two wars started by Germany.

World War I Memorial
WWII Memorial. One of four tablets with names of soldiers from the village where I grew up.
Never forget the great loss of life and devastation that certain brands of Nationalism have lead to in the past, Germany!  Never forget the high price of "heroism". I find it kind of ironic to see the word hero on these memorials. I am sure these guys were brave men but how can we refer to them as heros when the cause they were fighting for was so unjust?

With this in mind I wish you all a Happy 4th of July! I am working on some blueberry muffins to take to a party and some pesto to bring to another one. Better get back to the kitchen...

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Soon To Follow. Promise!

Today I finally finished my new article for the NaturalKids Team Blog. It has photos of a doll friend I took along on our trip to Europe to enjoy the sights. I hope you get a chance to visit and enjoy my post.

Soon you will I  get the complete castle tour photo series here. Hopefully it will  be finished and ready for my blog this next week. It will be fun, I promise. So don't miss it.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Zahn der Zeit - The Tooth of Time

I took over 500 pictures on our recent trip to Europe. It will take me weeks to go through them and sort them all out. I hope to share some of the beautiful landscapes and sights we saw. But my two favorite shots are photos my husband took of my sisters and me. Looking at them, I can tell how time has taken its toll. In German we say that the tooth of time gnaws on things. Is there a similar expression in English? I am not certain.

I was very much scared to see my family after all this time. I did wonder about what everybody would look like. I had no recent photos of my sibling or older relatives since most people of the older generation don't do Facebook.

People in Germany are very distrustful of FB in general. Only the younger generation seems to have found use for it while their parents talk about how silly it is and what a complete waste of time. Funny thing is, I knew a lot about my siblings children because we are connected via Facebook. I knew how tall they had grown, what their likes and dislikes are, while I had no clue how the older generation had changed. Hence my fear of the gap...

I suppose I can partly understand the critical view of Facebook older Germans have. Being cut off from the internet and not having access via phone or a computer, I felt very liberated and enjoyed the time with my family so much. No need to check messages. No interuptions. What I take as a lesson from this trip is, that it's good to put those things completely aside and wean yourself of the constant need to communicate and exchange information.

The second lesson I took with me, is that it doesn't matter what time does to us. There may be more gray hair and wrinkles but inside we remain the same person. So don't worry so much about your looks and what other people think. For the true beauty lies within each person. The eyes keep their sparkle through the ages. From teenager to old lady in the resthome, we remain the same.  If you meet a loved one after not seeing them for a long time you will recognize each other.

It a beautiful beautiful thing.