Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Beekeeper Gal

I just finished this sweet doll. She is wearing the cutest outfit made from a Japanese Kawaii fabric. Of course, the bonnet she is wearing lent itself nicely to a wordplay with the expression "bees in a bonnet".

 
Still wondering what to name this little one. She is not afraid of bees. That is for sure!
 
She is spunky and ready to play!
 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Fresh Flowers

Happy Memorial Day Weekend! I hope you are having a wonderful time with your family and enjoying each moment with your loved ones.

I was thinking of flowers this morning because I have seen so many people go to the cemetery to bring flowers to their departed loved ones. I wish there was a field to cut fresh flowers around here. I had so much fun getting a fresh bouquet in Germany.


Here are photos of a tulip field near my youngest sister's house. There is a little stand there by the roadside. The stand holds knifes, wire for tying your bouquet together, and a box where you drop the payment. It costs 25cents per flower. My sister said a lot of the farmers do this now. Instead planting a field with plants they have to harvest they plant a field with flowers. They looked so pretty along the road.

 My son was shocked? This would never work where we live in the US,  he thought. People would run off with the box of money, flowers, and take the whole kid and caboodle and all...


                                       I remember seeing similar stands with fruit and veggies when traveling in Denmark a few years back. I had the same concerns as my son. How can this work? Wouldn't some dishonest person just take the stuff and make a run for it. Well, obviously there are always people who will break the rules. After all the sign states in German:" Only flowers that have been paid for will bring joy!"


Hope you have a lovely day and don't forget to bring some fresh flowers to a loved one!

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Arrival

the following email arrived in my box this week. at first I was a bit worried. then I had so smile. finally I  laughed out loud. you must love your US mail carriers. they are such unique folks.



Dear Ulla,
The tracking said my package was out for delivery so I was on the "look-out" for it.
I was far away in the garden (after work) when I heard the mailtruck coming.
The substitute carrier is not good about packages, she left one at a neighbor's house earlier this week!
I ran to the house while she continued up the deadend dirt road that is our street. No Package!
I went down to the road and waited for her to make the return trip, I knew she had my package.
She did. She said she didn't deliver it because she saw a black snake rearing up and was scared.
I told her that was the black hose for my rainbarrels but she wasn't convinced.
I scrubbed my hands before I opened the package.
"Laura" and the watermelon dress are safely in my home.
Much love and appreciation,
   ....

Well, I am glad Laura arrived safely. No snakebites either...

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Sommerloch

Looks like we have entered the slow period of summer. In German we call it  "Sommerloch" or "saure Gurkenzeit" ( the summerhole or the time of sour gurkens, when nothing much happens or sells). Dolls are sitting on the virtual shelf, waiting for a good family to adopt them. I think I got about 7 keeping me company right now.

Maybe it's time for a new dolly orphanage photo shoot?



Here is one little sweet pea waiting. The good thing is, I get to play with all of them. I just put some new clothes on this little gal. She is wearing a blue floral dress, matching yellow shorts. Of course, there is a tiny pocket baby waiting with her in the box to keep her company. Dolls do have feelings- you know. I am sure of it.

 
Little Lisette is a bit sad right now because she doesn't have a kid to play with. She would love to be best friend to someone who needs a hugging. She is a very good listener, too. I know because she has been sitting here patiently for a couple of months listening to my worries about my trip to Germany, the ups and downs in the news, and the state of the world in general.
 
 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

It's official: I am a Hoarder...Help!

Okay, I am totally exaggerating. I am not that bad. And my house is not gross and filthy like the ones you see on TV. I could never live like that and find those stories hard to believe. Did you know that they have a show like that on German TV, too? People are people - no matter where you go in the world...In Germany they are not called hoarders. They call folks like that "messys"( not sure about the spelling). But I think it's funny how more and more English words are becoming part of the German language. I'll have to write about that topic another day.



Are you a collector of things? Is there something you have too many of? Well, with me it's fabric. I love it so much I had to enforce a fabric-buying- moratorium on myself. It's been in effect for two years. I have been really good about it. Of course, there is always the occasional slip-up. I am at HobbyLobby, and I see this cute cloth with rabbits on it. Boom! It somehow winds up in my shopping cart.



If you have too much of something it's crucial to keep good track of what you got. Otherwise you may end up with even more stuff. So it happened to me that I couldn't find my box of "patriotic" fabrics. I went through my whole stash - every single clear plastic container - and it about drove me nuts. I really didn't want to go out and buy more fabric to make a couple of dresses for Independence Day. Finally I realized that I had put the fabric in a separate box on a shelf. Why? Because I  have very little of it left. I swear I have less of a yard of red,white, and blue fabric. Pats self on shoulder.


STILL. This was a good reminder that I need to downsize. Our house is very little, and my studio space is a tiny room in the entryway of our house. That's how I end up storing my supplies in plastic containers and linen closets all over the house. Some day I hope to have ONE room of my own that is just for my doll stuff. If you want to help me reach that goal please visit my shop and buy something. I will have a "help-save-Ulla-from-becoming-a-hoarder- sale" very soon.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

What If?

I am so sad about the news in Oklahoma. Unimaginable. Your kid  at school and there is no place to hide from such a storm. Those poor teachers trying to keep their charges safe. What a nightmare!

On May 22th, 2008, almost 5 years ago to this day,  a tornado ripped through Colorado. Luckily it didn't hit our town directly. It obliterated a dairy farm on the outskirts and destroyed a neighborhood in the neighboring town of Windsor. However, this tornado struck not too far from our childrens' school. Approximately half a mile. Makes you wonder - what if? You just don't want to go there.



It so happens that our school is putting up a brand new middle school building. We need space for more kids to come. It appears that the building plans did not include a shelter of any sort. Who has money to waste on a basement? The old building does not have a basement or shelter either. Makes one wonder where our kids would go if such a thing should come to pass.


Back when my mom was still alive, she'd always call after the news of a devastating tornado in US. She was convinced that all houses in the US were build of matchsticks - not solid like the German brick house I grew up in. I swear the walls of my childhood home were 2-3 feet thick. I would always assure her that we were fine and our house was well-built. Watching the devastating news about Oklahoma I am not so sure of it any more...Especially when I think of my kids' school. Maybe it's time to ask the principle what the plan is? Do you live in tornado country? What plan does your child's school have for evacuation?



I guess all we can do is pray for the folks in Oklahoma. Pray and donate money to the Red Cross. May the people in Moore get lots of help and comforting words as they live through this horrible nightmare.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Gas Station of Love

I started this doll before I left for Germany. I really wanted to push through and mail her out. Now I am glad the customer who ordered this baby told me not to rush. All good things take time.

I love how little Laura turned out. She has a sweet expression. Her dark olive green eyes have a wise look to them. She has lovely wild brown hair. I bought the yarn for her hair from a rug weaver on EBay a while back. I am almost out of it. Only one more doll and it will be gone.

Laura's dress is made from an aqua green floral print. The print is a retro 30s style pattern. I have a hard time finding this material. The fabric I used on Laura's dress was a gift from a dear customer.

I think this doll oozes love. Why I think it spilled over from all the love I received from my family and friends while visiting the Vaterland. Each trip feels like a trip to the gas station of love.

And the best thing about that gas station: The price never goes up. In fact, it is given entirely free of charge, and you don't have to worry about the bill...

 


 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Rosinenbrötchen - German Raisin buns

Oh my gosh. I stepped on the scales yesterday and found that I put on 5 pounds during my trip to Germany. I don't understand why, really. I walked everywhere. My legs hurt from hiking all over the place. I swear if I was still living in Germany I would have turned into a large Frau by now...Good thing I am back in the US and there are no baked goods tempting me.

Here is a recipe for German raisin buns to tempt you.

Rosinenbrötchen – Raisin Buns
Raisin buns are a German breakfast food. You can buy them at any German bakery if you get up early enough. If you are a late riser, that’s too bad. The bakery will  have run out of them, and you have to make your own!

They are commonly served with Butter, Jam, or Nutella.

Ingredients:

·         150 g potatoes about (4 medium sized potatoes)

·         500 g wheat flour

·         2¼ teaspoon dry yeast

·         50 g sugar

·         ½ teaspoon salt

·         125 g softened butter

·         200 ml warm milk

·         100 g raisins

Steps for making raisin buns:

1.       Boil potatoes until they are soft and can be poked easily with a fork, peel while still hot, and put through a potato ricer. Let cool down a bit.

 

2.       Mix potatoes, flour, yeast, sugar, salt, butter, and the warm milk with a hand mixer. Use dough hooks for mixing, not beaters. Mix until you get a soft smooth dough.

 

3.       Turn out the dough on a surface dusted with flour. Knead in the raisins until they are spread throughout the dough.

 

4.       Roll the dough into a log and cut into fourteen pieces. Shape each piece into a round bun. Set on a greased cookie sheet. Let the buns rise for about 30 minutes or until they have doubled in size.

 

5.       Brush each bun with warm condensed milk. Bake in a preheated oven at 375°F for about 25minutes or until buns are turning golden brown.

Tip: While baking, you can keep a bowl of hot water in the oven. This will keep the buns extra moist.

 

 

 

 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Living under a rock...

When I arrived in Germany my family asked me if I had heard of the NSU court case. What's that?

Now I do read the papers and watch the news in the US. Yet I had no clue what they were talking about. Looks like I have been living under a rock.

While people in the US live their lives worrying about terrorist attacks from the outside - radical muslims blowing up bombs at the Boston marathon - life in Germany is ruled by fears of rising neonazism - terrorist from within - these days.

Stolpersteine - Stumbling stones - located on the sidewalks in the town of Nieder-Olm, Rheinhessen. The golden signs bear the names of Jewish people deported by the Nazis

As I travel through beautiful blooming German landscapes, a not so pretty picture emerges from the newspapers. The story of a young woman, named Beate Zschäpe, who is accused of aiding two young German men murder immigrants. Makes you wonder what is going on behind the doors of those cute little houses - especially in the East of Germany? Are neo-Nazis living there?

At the same time I ask myself why such news don't make it into the press here? Maybe if they did there would be much more pressure on the German government to take care of the problem. If you are as clueless about the topic as I am, try googling NSU. What sounds like the abbreviation for an institute of higher education is a far-right terrorist group. Very Scary stuff!



Living under a rock is a dangerous thing. Looks like I am not the only one who does it since it took German authorities the longest time to figure it out.
German authorities had for years been unaware of the existence of a far-right terrorist cell calling itself the "National Socialist Underground" (NSU) that murdered 10 people, most of them Turkish immigrants, in a nationwide killing spree that went on from 2000 until 2007. When this group, based in Zwickau, Saxony, first came to light, politicians declared their intention to tackle and root out the far-right problem, but nothing has come of those declarations. "What's happening in Saxony is a scandal," says Hajo Funke, a political scientist in Berlin. There is no other German state where neo-Nazis have such a high profile, he says, adding that the regional government was refusing to take action against it.
Here I am visiting Weimar. Left and right you find this really weird mix of highlights and low points in German history. Many famous German writers, musicians, philosophers, and artists lived and breathed here.The Bauhaus was founded here. Next to the most beautiful abodes you find historical sites and grim markers of German history. Roadsigns to Buchenwald. The tourist guide tells me it is located 8 kilometers outside of town.

courtyard of the Marstall in Weimar

But one does not have to travel far to find other reminders of  Nazi crimes. Marstallhof. A fancy Neo-Renaissance building. Originally used by  nobles for stables and parading their horses. Turned into a place of horror by the Nazis - prison barracks, holding cells, Gestapo torture chamber - the last station for many before they went to their deaths at the concentration camp in Buchenwald. A work of art commemorates the demolished buildings and form a reminder of the crimes of history committed in them. The buildings were crushed in a crushing mill to wood chips and masonry granulates. The crushed pieces were put back in the courtyard and mark the former foundations of the Nazi-built barracks. Underneath are the government archives.

Photo showing the barracks that were used by the Nazis to hold prisoners in Weimar before they were put on the trains to concentrationcamps

Maybe they should have left those buildings standing instead of crushing them. How many reminders do we need? Did you know that each concentration camp had a motto above the entrance?
The wrought-iron Buchenwald gate to the camp bears the sign "Jedem das Seine,"-  "To each his own."

If you would like to read some more about current German issues here are links to a couple of articles:

http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/article-on-neo-nazis-in-eastern-german-state-of-saxony-a-838231.html

http://www.dw.de/nsu-investigation-was-total-failure-review-panel-says/a-16819993

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Germany: Rheinhessen

Just a quick note to let you know I made it back safely from my trip. I am still suffering the effects of jetlag and way too little sleep while traveling. Who has time to sleep when there is visiting to do?


Here are a couple of quick shots from my trip. I took the two shots while traveling by car from my youngest sister's house to another sister's. The colors are so bright. I swear I didn't edit these photos. They look like expressionistic paintings, don't you think? Too bad I didn't have time to sit down and paint. Maybe another trip. This is the area I grew up in. Isn't it amazing and beautiful? The only difference from back when I was young are the windmills. Alternative engergy is reallly big in Germany at the moment. You can see windmills and solar panels all over the place.


If you have never visited Germany I hope you get a chance some day. Rheinhessen is beautiful. May and June are a good time to go.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

German Meatballs

As  you are reading this I am traveling around Germany. I thought I'd  leave a couple of recipes for you. In case you miss me. So have fun cooking and enjoy some of the foods I'll be eating while in the Vaterland.


Growing up these German meatballs were one of my favorite meals. In German they are called
Königsberger Klopse. They are not very hard to make and quite the crowdpleaser.

Ingredients:
  • 3 tablespoons of butter
  • flour
  • 3 cups of broth
  • 500 grams of ground meat (mix of pork and beef is best)
  • 1 egg
  • medium sized onion chopped finely
  • breadcrumbs
  • capers
  • lemon zest and juice
  • a couple of splashes worcestershire sauce
  • splash of dry white wine such a riesling
  • pepper and salt to taste
Put the ground meat in a mixing bowl and add the egg, breadcrumbs, diced onions, worcesterauce, pepper, salt. Mix together with your hands careful not to squeeze too much. Shape into meatball of about 2 inches in diameter.

Melt butter in a saucepan. Add the flour and brown lightly. Add the broth and make a rue. Put in the capers, lemon zest, and worcestershire sauce. Once the sause has thickened (after 10 minutes of cooking it on medium low temperature) add the meatballs to the sauce. Cook them slowly careful not to boil them for they might fall apart if the sauce is too bubbly...

Season to taste using pepper, salt, lemon juice, and a splash of white wine.



Serve with rice, and a vegetable or salad on the side.