Tuesday 29 December 2015

December Gifted Gorgeousness & WIPocalypse

After all these holiday posts in the last few weeks, I finally have an actual crafty post to share with you - I know I didn't update my regular stuff for a while now. This was partly due to stress and bussiness - getting stuff done in time for christmas, but also life happening with other oblogations, some good stuff, some less good stuff, the usual, but everything put together I'm fairly happy with the place I am in now :) The other half was because just about everything I worked on was a present for someone that might or might not cheak this blog from time to time, so there wasn't much I could show anyway - but now I can, and that also makes this post perfect fo my December checkin with Gifted Gorgeousness, since everything shown here was a gift for someone!

So the first thing I want to show you is My Day Off - a gift for Felix' mum. Last time I showed her, I was done with the cross stitch and went on to the backstitching. In the mean time, I got her done, washed and framed, and we gave her to his mother just a month late for her birthday ;) Of course I found a small region I forgot to backstitch right after giving her away, but I'm confident noone else will notice :D

Next thing I got to send of was my newest baby suprise jacket - for Steph, a friend from the Stitching Pirates dA group, or rather her little son. She received the package soon after christmas, and already shared pictures of her little boy wearing it, which made me really happy!

And my latest finish is a wedding sampler for two coworkers of mine - Karina sits in the same room as I do and always admires what ever crafty project I bring along, so I just had to do something for her; and Ralf was my direct supervisor on my master thesis and we're still working together now. It's a kit by Bothy Threads called Wedding Celebrations - I really like their kits, the material is great and they stitch up so fast as well! I still was in quite a rush to get this finished and just got it done in the last minute; Felix did the framing for me, and I think he did a really great job!

There is still one more finish that I need to get washed and framed and sent off, so I won't be sharing it now - so look forward to one more suprise really soon!

Now, this is also the last WIPocalypse checkin of the year, and the subject was: Recap your accomplishments for the year! (Your finishes, your final before/after photos, etc). I just updated my Finished tab if you are curious, and I won't be spamming you with a lot more pictures now, so let me just talk for a bit here.
When I started of this year, I actually made a nice big list of all the things I want to do, have to do, and that would be nice to do. I did fairly well keeping to this list for a few month, but eventually I realized that I'm not good working with lists. I love making them, I love crossing things off of them, but I don't enjoy being bound by them. In my world of crafting, stuff keeps popping up, freebies I want to try, gifts I want to make, SALs I wanted to join...I just wanted to stay flexible. So I threw my lists over board and enjoyed myself...until I decided to start way to many deadlined presents. So this is something I really need to work on - not doing ALL the deadlined things at once. And while I'm pretty content with a total of 18 finished today, I hope to do way better next year - shortterm goals is the keyword!

I'm still finalizing my plans on SALs and blogging for next year; I'll let you all know soonish. I don't want to join too many, since all the scheduled posts can get pretty tiresome as well, but there will be some, I'm pretty sure :)

Strange German Holidays #12 - St Nicholas Day

With the majority of the holiday stress safely behind me, I'm going to try and catch up on what feels like a million things! I know I can do it!

There are several 'holidays' and traditions during advent - there is, for example, Barbara da on December 4th. It is said that if you cut a branch of a cherry tree (or another tree, depending on the region you are in) on that day, and put it into a glass of water in a warm room, it will be in bloom by Christmas Day - in memory of the holy Barbara, who was beheaded and, on her way to the prison, accidently broke a branch, that bloomed in her prison on the day of her execution.

By far the most important of those holydays, however, is December 6th - St Nicholas Day. Nikolaos of Myra was a bishop who lived in the 4th centuary, in Myra, which lies in todays Turkey.There are several legends about his good deeds and miracle works, and most of them are about either secret gift giving (it is said that he liked to leave coints in boots that were left outside the door - sound familiar?) and helping children, whose patron he is as well.

So on the evening before his name day, on the 5th his name day, children will leave their boots or stockings out and find them filled on the next day - oranges, nuts, sweets and sometimes small toys for good children, a birch for bad children. Bad children used to actually get beaten with that birch, but nowadays they usually just get one instead of the sweets, as a reminder to behave better the next year. And sometimes there will even be sweets ON that birch (I got one of these once as a child!), so it's a really mild reminder too! Doesn't St Nicholas sound like the original Santa Claus? :D

Now, there are several variantions in these tradition, of course. For example, where I live, the stockings aren't filled over night for most children, but the bell will suddenly ring on the evening of the 5th and the will already find their presents then.Sometimes, St Nicholas will even visit himself instead of just filling the stockings: Many schools and kindergardens have one coming by. And there are differences as well: While some will depict him like a modern day Santa Claus, in red and white, the original St Nicholas is actually dressed like the bishop he was, with a bishop's cap and crooked staff. When St Nicholas appears in person, children will often have to recite poems to him in exchange for their presents.

Also depending on the region, St Nicholas might have different companions. Those companions are usually seen as his 'bad' counterpart - while St Nicholas is sent from heaven to reward the good children, his companions are inpersonations of the devil, that come to scare bad children and also took care of the birching when that was still custom.
In Germany, or at least where I live, Nikolaus is usually accompanied by Knecht Ruprecht, an old, bearded guy clad in a brown or black robe, who carries both the birches and the presents in a basket on his back (unless he and Nikolaus have a donkey to do the carrying for them). He's not necessarily evil, more like a loyal companion to do the less pleasurable parts of the job. As far as I understand, the same can be said for Zwarte Piet (black Peter), that accompanies the Sinterclaas in the Netherlands and Belgium. In Austria and some of the Eastern European countries, how ever, the Nikolaus is accompanied by the Krampus - a demon like creature, barely tamed by the good bishop and put in chains, that he rattles to scare the bad children. Stuff for nightmares right there!

Sunday 13 December 2015

Strange German Holidays #11 - Advent

Only three more posts to go after this one!

Advent isn't a holiday per se - rather, it indicates the time before christmas. The term stems from the latin 'adventus', which means arrival, and, of course, refers to the birth of Jesus on christmas itself.

In general, Advent is when you start decorating your house, baking christmas cookies and eating all the yummy sweets that go with it - like dominoes, gingerbread, christmas-flavoured chocolate, and so on (although they start selling these about mid-october nowadays...). The christmas tree itself is traditionally not set up until christmas eve, but some people put their nativity up early (Felix' grandma for example - hers is really stunning and impressive and takes up several tables, I'll try to take a picture for you guys later).

Now, there are two distinct ways to count down the time to christmas, and for each there is a tradition to go with it. You probably all now of the first one: The Adventskalender (advent calendar), counting the days from December 1st to the 24th. Those are really popular in German, you can get some with pictures or poems, books with 24 little stories (or one story with 24 chapters - I still have ma favourite from when I was a kid, it was the story of the clumsy little angel Plotsch, who came into heaven [one German Christmas tradition is that the angels in heaven make all the gifts for Christmas], trying to help but making a mess everywhere he went, until he finally found something he was good at), and of course all kinds with sweets and chocolates - almost every sweets manufacturer also produces an advent calender. And then there are some with toys, like Playmobil or Lego, and for adults they have advent calendars with tea, cosmetics, juwelry or even with 24 differnt brands of beer. Of course there are also some with 24 boxes or little sacks you can fill yourself, my grandma always used to do that for me when I was a child. I still love them, and we have actually four this year: One with pictures and poems my grandma got me, one with M&Ms I got from Felix, I made and filled one for him and we also have one from Ikea (with chocolate and two gift cards) that we share.

The other way of counting is counting the sundays before christmas - you start four sundays before christmas eve and call it the First Advent - depending on what day of the week christmas falls on, this can already be in November. So today is actually the Third Advent, next sunday will be the Fourth. There are special services at church these four Advent Sundays, and at home, many people will have an Adventskranz (Advent Wreath). It's traditionally a wreath,but can take a number of different shapes: We used to decorate a flat bowl with moss and fir branches and stuff like that, and the one we bought this year is actually in a cake tin. What they all have in common, though, is four candles, and each sunday, you lit one more. You can light them on the other days of the week as well as you want, but you only add more on the sundays, so that all four are lit on the Fourth Advent. There are many songs and poems that go with this tradition, but this one is probably best known:

Advent, Advent, 
ein Lichtlein brennt
Erst eins, dann zwei, dann drei, dann vier
Dann steht Weihnachten vor der Tür!

Advent, Advent
A light is lit
First one, then two, then three, then four
Then christmas's knocking at the door!

And kids like to add:
Und wenn das fünfte Lichtlein brennt
Dann hast du Weihnachten verpennt.

Which means: If you light a fifth light, you have missed Christmas...boo!

Part of our setup, with two of our Advent calendars
and the Advent-caketin

Wednesday 9 December 2015

Advent Calendar Blog Hop 2015

This blog hop is once again hosted by the wonderful Jo from Serendipitous Stitching, and it's my turn today! So make yourself comfortable, grap some hot cocoa with Peter Polar Bear here

and listen to me telling you how christmas eve is celebrated in my family. [short note: Christmas Eve or 'Heiligabend' is when actual christmas is happening in Germany - tree, presents, and all]

Since Felix and I only moved in together last year, traditions are only starting to from now, but I'll just tell you what we are planning to do this year. So, thankfully, we have Christmas Eve off from work, so we get to sleep in. Then, there will probably be some last minute present preparation (mostly wrapping, maybe some framing when stitchy presents are involved). We're having a quiet morning and a small lunch, then we head over to my grandparents in the afternoon.
I like to go to church on Christmas Eve - our church does a family service at 5pm, there is lots of singing, a nativity play by the kindergardeners, and candles lit with a light that came all the way from Bethlehem. When everyone is singing 'Oh how joyfully' in the end and the bells start ringing after that, then going out with the candle and walking home (preferably through the snow, although it's bin a while since we had a white Christmas), that's when Christmas really starts for me.
When we get home we have dinner - we traditionally used to have ham and potato salad for dinner, but in recent years we tried a few new things as well - then we put on some nice-but-comfy clothes and head for the living room with the tree and presents. We unwrap them, are happy (hopefully ;)) and spend all evening, talking and eating cookies and other christmas sweets, listening to our old christmas CDs (some of them we already had when I was a kid), sometimes watching a movie if someone got a good new one, maybe trying out or playing with what ever else we got, just spending some nice quality time together. It's a very nice way to get out of the stress and into the quiet time of between-the-years (in Germany, we have to holidays right after christmas, and Felix and I are off from work until the new year, so we really have some time to relax afterwards). I'm really looking forward to it now that I'm talking about it :)

I'll probably do one of my 'Strange German Holiday' posts around Christmas too, if you are interested in a few more traditions we used to have, or stuff from before and after Christmas Eve as well, so please come back later if you'd like to know more :)

Monday 7 December 2015

The Alphabet Club: Letter D

This is an other format I didn't want to drop out of, busy or not, since I really like the idea - you kinda lost me at C, but there really aren't terribly many words starting with C in the German language. In fact, all I could think of are some words starting with 'ch', and those are mostly the same as in English, like China or Chemie (chemistry) or Chor (choir). Not very interesting. D is different though, I'm sure I can think of something interesting with D!

But first, for stitching with 'D' - here is Davy Jones:

Today's D-Word is going to be 'Dorf' - Village. There are quite a few Dörfer in Germany, especially in the mountain regions, like the Schwarzwald or the Spessart. Now the interesting part is (and I don't know how other countries handle this), in Germany, there is no set size when a village automatically becomes a town - 'town' or German 'Stadt' is a title that gets granted to a settlement, although I'm not sure about the exact conditions. So in theory, there could be a Dorf with a million people, or a Stadt with only 100.

Yes, that's kind of a short fun fact for today...I'm sure there are many more things one could say about villages and living in them, but I never have lived there so I don't have first hand knowledge. And everytime I start talking about it, Felix (who was born and raised in a village) throws my evil glances, so I think my idea of Dorfleben is probably not to realistic, so let's keep it at that ;)

Monday 30 November 2015

Strange German Holidays #10 - The Mourning Days

My usual blog posts are still on hold while I'm in full hermit mode - working as fast as I can on some christmas projects I can't share yet, and not much in the mood for people or blogging. But I really like this holiday project, so I need to bring at least that to a good end - would be a shame giving up so close to the end of the year!

So, the mourning days...that's not an official term, but something I just invented to talk about three somewhat similiar holidays in November.

First, there is All-Saints-Day (Allerheiligen). It's a Catholic high-holiday held on November 1st to honour all of the saints, and it's an actual holiday in some parts of Germany (as in, a day off). I don't know much about the celebrations since I'm not catholic, and it doesn't have much to do with mourning either - but Felix, who grew up in a catholic house, has told me that they always went to the graveyard, thinking about the deads, and a priest would bless the graves. I was a bit confused about that story, but then I looked it up on wikipedia and found that those rites actually belong to All-Souls-Day (Allerseelen), which is the day after All-Saints-Day, but since that is not holiday and people can't stroll around the graveyard in the afternoon, they are often practised the day before. All-Souls-Day is a day to thik about our dead loved ones, and traditionally you are supposed to pray for them to shorten their time in the purgatory - that pre-hell place were souls are put when they are potentially okay to go to heaven, but have some sins to repent first. Things about catholics I don't really get...

Next, there is the Totensonntag or Ewigkeitssonntag (Sunday of the Dead/Sunday of Eternity), which is the protestant equialent to All-Souls-Day. It's the last sunday of the churchyear (see Advent, the next post in the holiday series). We don't bless graves, though, we just think about our dead in the church service, and visit graves in our own time. On both holidas, flowers and candles are often placed on the graves.

The last of the three is held a week before Totensonntag, and its the Volkstrauertag (People's Moruning Day) - it's kind of the German version of Memorial Day, to think about 'people that died in armed conflict or under opression'. There's not much of a celebration, naturally, and since we lack the patriotism that other countries have (see German Unity Day) noone makes a big deal out of it - there are speeches in TV and it's one of the 'silent days', where public celebration is forbidden, and that's about it.

So, these are the three pretty dark holidays of November - not much to say about them, but I still wanted to mention them for a somewhat complete picture. See you soon with a post about a much happier subject - Advent, the time before christmas!

Tuesday 24 November 2015

Strange German Holidays #9 - Martinstag

So I now I am waaaaay behind - not just with updating you on my progress, but also with commenting on all of your awesome posts, and some more things on top of that - but I do have reasons. Okay, reason number one is me being lazy, as usual, but there are other reasons too, I swear - good busy reasons, so don't you worry, but reasons still! Nevertheless, I need to at least make time to tell you about one of my favourite holidays (and hopefully about some other November holidays as well before the huge holiday period of pre-christmas starts). So, this favourite of mine is Martinstag, St. Martin's Day in English, or just St. Martin for short.

St. Martin lived in the fourth century AD in Hungary. He was born in 316 or 317 and was later to become the bishop of Tours, but in his youth, following his father's wishes, he became a soldier of the Roman Empire. St. Martin's Day is celebrated on the 11th of November, which is the day he was buried after he died in 397 (coincidently, this is also the day Fasnacht starts - see here).

Now as the story is told, one day in winter, Martin (or Martinus by his Roman name) came across a poor, half naked man, freezing to death in the cold. Now Martinus was a soldier, sitting high up on his horse - it would have been easy to overlook the poor guy, but he didn't. He wanted to help, but he didn't have anything on him but his weapons and his military uniform. So he took his sword, and cut his warm, bright red coat (which historically was probably white, but red sounds nice in the story) in half, offering one half to the guy on the ground.

Now in his honour, there are parades everywhere where children will march through the dark holding lanterns (often hand crafted - we used to make them all together in kindergarden, later my mum helped me, and the last one I personally made a few years ago can be seen here) and singing special songs about St Martin, his deeds, and lanterns. They also act out the scene with the beggar or, if they're lucky, there's an actual horseman to do that. At the end of the parade, children will get pretzels or special rolls (Martinsweck). I don't know if they do that everywhere, but when I was in kindergarden and elementary school, we would only get one pretzel for two kids, so we had to share it, just like Martin shared his coat. Here's a video I found on Youtube that gives quite a nice impression of a St Martin's parade:

Another custom that is quite common, but we personally never did this, is to have goose for dinner on St Martin's day. There are several stories behind this, but the one I heard as a child goes as follows:
When Martin had left the army, he started living as a kind of hermit, but he soon gained quite some followers for his good deeds. Eventually, the people of Tours wanted to make him their bishop, but, being humble as he was, Martin refused. The people insisted, and he fled, hiding in a geese-coop. But the geese, being, well, geese, quacked and chattered loudly, people found him, and he became the bishop anyways. So today, we eat them - you know, to thank them. Or maybe to punish them for giving poor Martin away.

Now there are many more traditons surounding this holiday (which isn't actually a day off by the way, you only get to celebrate in the evening) - for example, in some regions the kids go from door to door with their lanterns, like on Halloween - but these are the ones I have personally experienced and grew up with. It  was one of my favourites as a kid, because crafting the lanterns was always so much fun, there's a horse, and the songs are really beautiful - and today, I still like the lanterns, still like horses and still love the songs, but over everthing else I love this thought of sharing and caring. Some people are now trying dispose of Martin's Day because, being a Christian celebration and all, it's deemed inapropriate to celebrate in public school where children of other faith's are exposed to it, but I really hope they keep the tradition alive in one way or another :)

Wednesday 11 November 2015

November TUSAL

Things continue to get more quiet, which I like, and I continue to become more lazy, which I don't like so much - but maybe I just really need the rest. The weather (we had a few sunny days last week, but as a whole it's just getting darker and colder) and some health issues (that will hopefully be resolved soon) are doing their part as well...but the bright side is, this lazyness is keeping me at home as much as possible, which makes for nice stitching progress.

I think it's also time for November TUSAL, so let me start by sharing my ORT jar for the month:

For stitching, I was mostly focusing on My Day Off, and I stitched all of the blue sky...a tad boring, but also very relaxing. Now I'm done with the cross stitch and focusing on the back stitch this week.

I also knitted a bit...I'm almost through the first ball of yarn on the baby jacket, but I need to hurry up now since the baby has been born last week :)

I also did some origame this weekend...a coworker of ours is getting his PhD this friday, and I made some cranes for the games and decoration...they are quite tiny, each about an inch long, and here they are all chilling on my laptop:

So much for my creative progress...now for watching, there was a lot more of Supernatural (S8, E2-16), and what we missed in dramatic feeling that last few episodes is one hundred percent back now :) We also watched S2 E5 of Elementary and some Case Closed/Detectiv Conan (E125-139) and a movie Felix was very eager to see: Wiplash. It's about a jazz drummer and has some really impressive musical parts and since Felix is a drummer himself he loved it, but it really was quite nice :)

And for reading, there was Volume 9 of Case Closed, and I read Stardust. It was my first Neil Gaiman and after my girls all love his books, it was about time - I understand them now! I loved the movie, saw it before I even knew there was a book, and this is one of the rare cases were both are great - they changed, added and removed a few parts in the movie, but both versions are great. I'm sure I'll read something by him again soon :)

Sunday 1 November 2015

October WIPocalypse

While I'm still pretty busy, things seem to be calming down a bit. Work is still trying to be a pain in the behind, but I'm confident it will work out - either I can work around the issues on the current project, or admit defeat and start clean with a new one eventually. And our social-business has been reduced from travelling all over the country to visiting friends around town and doing stuff around the apartment, so basically, preparing for a good, long hibernation. Either way, I had some time to craft this week, and as I was fully focused on two pieces, I made some decent progress as well. But before we get to showing pretty pictures, let me first anwser this month's question for WIPocalypse: Are there any fibers or materials used in stitching that you’re nervous to try?  To be honest, I am nervous every time I try something new - it's not about certain materials specifically, it's a more general thing. I was extremly nervous trying silks for the first time as they are so expensive, but then it was much easier than I thought, so probably all the other stuff will as well :)

Now to my progress: I was working on My Day Off, and had a lot of fun with the vines, the last big confetti-region of the design. I wasn't to thrilled when I first looked at it, but then I just did one colour after the other and it went really smoothly. The tub-lady also has the rest of her legs and a lovely little cat now, so unless I forgot a few stitches in the vines-area (which is very well possible), I only have one colour and the sky left to stitch now (and some back stitching, of course).

The other thing I worked on was that baby jacket I mentioned last week, which caused so much confusion - it's for a friend of mine, not for myself, and it's about halfway finished now:

So, what else happened...lots of watching to warrant all that crafting, of course! We finished S7 of Supernatural (E19-23) and just started E8 today. I liked the S7, but somehow the end felt...less dramatic than it should have for everthing that happened, and now S8 starts with the same feeling for me...I hope I can shake it up after a few episodes. We also started S2 of Elementary yesterday (E1-4) - of course this feels rather slow now after that high-speed finale, but that was to be expected and I still like it. Last but not least, some more Case Closed (E116 - 125), of which I also read to more volumes (7 & 8).
I also finaly got around to playing The Vanishing of Ethan Carter last weekend, a short, but very sweet mystery-game with some interesting puzzles and unexpected story twists. Short, but very enjoyable and interesting :)

Saturday 31 October 2015

Halloween Blog Hop

Jo from Serendipitous Stitching is hosting a Halloween blog hop again this year, and I just couldn't resist joining! So welcome everyone, whether you come here on a regular basis or just skiped by for the letter.

So the Halloween stitching I want to share with you today is Halloween Town by the Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery, which I finished this year but still need to finish-finish:

And the letter I have to share is I (uppercase I, not lowercase L).

Regular post tomorrow (hopefully), until then - happy hunting, hopping, trick-or-treating or whatever else you are up to this Halloween!

Sunday 25 October 2015

October TSAL, GiGi and other stuff

Please forgive me, as it's been an awefully long time since my last regular post - but then, I've also been awfully busy! First, we visited Felix' mum for her birthday (his dad couldn't be home as he was in rehab after hurting his knee and Felix' brother just moved out, and Felix' didn't want her to feel so alone), then we went to Berlin to visit my best friend Steffi - which was awesome (but also pretty exhausting because long drive). We went shopping (there's a Bahlsen store were they sell second-choice products of cookies and chips and choclate and lots and lots of delicious stuff pretty cheap), went to an awesome Ramen place for lunch, watched Inside Out at the cinema (AWESOME movie! Go watch it if you haven't already, but probably you have since it came to Germany really late), talked and laughed a lot and on Sunday we had tea/coffee and cake with two other friends of Steffi and me that I hadn't met in person before. Less awesome stuff that happend contains my grandma's second karpal tunnel surgery yesterday (went okay so far) and some problems at work, which I'm tired talking about so I won't.

On to pretty pictures stuff - through all this, I tried to keep up with my stitching, and was more or less successful. I'm still working on My Day Off, so the lady has now half a leg, a bottle of wine, and a gramophone. There's also some more background and I started working on the vines that form the upper border of the design.

I also worked on the Halloween SAL, although I am terribly behind - I did two more blocks, the W and the first E. On the bright side, as you can see, I can now work on the whole thing at once - Steffi was in Florida in September and brought me a set of the non-slip hoops Carla and the girls keep gushing about, and the big one just fits perfectls. They are really awesome, but I will still use my Q snaps as well, depending what I'm working on.

Sadly, this will have to pause for a bit, as there is another baby on the way and I have to make another BSJ. I just started knitting this week so there's not much to show yet, but I will try to finish quickly!

And since I also missed the TUSAL checkin, here's my jar for the month:

Now among all the stress, we still managed to watch some stff. At Steffi's she made us watch Hairspray, which both of us didn't know before, but really enjoyed (and we were suprised at how deep the story went). At home, Felix and I finished S1 of Elementary (E18-24). I really liked the ending, it was quite a suprise! Now before we watch Season 2, we want to catch up on some other things, so we went back to Fear the Walking Dead (S1, E3-6). A rather short season, but it has some interesting characters, so I'm curious what will happen next. Now we are back to Supernatural right where we left off (S7, E14-18). Some interesting stuff has happened already and somewhat made up for all the sad and depressing things that happened before, so I'm pretty into this again. And we also continued to watch Case Closed (E103-115).
There also was some gaming - I'm mostly playing The Witcher 3 these days, but I finished two short ones: Actual Sunlight, which is more of a short visual novel about a guy with severe depression, that mostly seems to aim to get you thinking, which I found quite interesting, and Super Explosding Zoo - probably the complete opposite, little story, more gameplay, and pretty crazy: You controll a herd of bomb-animals that have different skills and abilities and have to defeat some aliens that are attempting to eat their eggs by exploding on them.
I also finished reading a book I got myself in Berlin - The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes by Anna McPartlin, and I highly enjoyed this one. It's about a woman who's dying from cancer and her last days in the hospice, and how she tries to make things right with her family, and her family with her. Sounds pretty depressing, I know, but the author manages to focus on the good parts, the laughter in dark times, and the good times that were and will be had. Still made my cry, but in a good way :)

Friday 16 October 2015

Strange German Holidays #8 - Erntedank

I still owe you guys a holiday post from two weeks ago - which is a shame because I used to love this one as a kid! Erntedank (which translates to Thanks-for-the-Harvest, roughly) is kind of the German thanksgiving - or rather, we are often told that Thanksgiving is the American version of Erntedank, but, while related, they are not quite the same I suppose. Erntedank is a Christian holiday celebrated on the first Sunday in October, and its purpose is to be thankful for the harvest - or, more broadly, for the food we have and eat. Some places celebrate with parades, but for the most part, the altars in the churches are decorated with fruit and vegetables and corn. Personally I find it really beautiful and love the sight of it :)

When I was in kindergarden, we used to get the decorations after the holiday and the whole class would make soup and fruit salat together. I always loved cutting fruit and vegetables and I have very found memories of that time :)

Today, I have to bring my own 'harvest' in, but those early autumn days are still among my favourite days of the year - and maybe that's why I love all things autmn-y when it come's to stitching! ;)

Thursday 8 October 2015

(Late) September WIPocalypse

I'm feeling a bit like Dory from 'Finding Nemo' these days...'Finally caught up with all of my check-ins', 'Hey look, another check-in!' Only that turning around takes me a few days instead of a few seconds, still feels like it, hehe. So before we go away on an other (hopefully amazing) long-weekend-trip (we're visiting my best friend in Berlin, took friday and monday off work), let me catch up with another missed check-in and some progress for September WIPocalypse!

This month's question was 'Where do you buy most of your stitching supplies?'  Now, since I still haven't found any good needlecraft suppliers locally (you can't even get DMC around here), I buy almost exclusively online. I try to support German webstores, however, like cross-stitch-corner, monika-arnold or stickteufelchen. For quite some stuff I also turn to sewandso, they just have the biggest selection (and are really quick to deliver as well), or other UK webstores. And in some cases I also had to turn the 123stitch in the US directly.
I used to buy DMC floss online in the US as well, mostly at crossstitchworld who have very reasonable shipping rates, but I recently discovered that there are some ebay sellers which really good prices and shipping rates (still original DMC) so I usually check there first. I also like to check ebay for rare items and the occasional bargain.
And for fabrics, when I want something special and handdyed (and I often do), I like to turn to polstitches, sparklies, jodyri designs and crafty kitten, all based in the UK. Oh and don't forget Nina's handdyed flosses, which I get from Jardin Privé in France...and digital patterns at etsy, Tilton Crafts, HAED, patternsonline and many others (often sold directly via the designer) - the possibilities are endless. Now if only my time and budget were, too!

Okay, but after this and my last wall of text post, it's time for pictures! I did promise you pictures, and I usually keep my promises, so pictures you shall have! Just a few more sentences and we are there. For real.
Last week, Felix and I were on a business trip to Oldenburg in the very North of Germany - which included a 7 hour train rides (well 8 on the way there because our train was late by an hour), some evenings in the hotel (even though we didn't have a lot of free time there) and four days of presentations ans lectures. So I did take some crafting with me - I worked on My Day Off mostly on the train, a bit in the hotel, and I got quite a bit done - the lady now has a wine glass and cake, there is a small flower pot and quite a bit more background. Also, it's time to move the hoop again!

For all these long lecture and presentation times, I brought some crochet work with me. Remember that crochet box from gemachtmitliebe.de I showed a while back? Daniela added a few more, as well as some amazing yarn to her shop, and I recently treated myself to the crochet box 'Granny shawl in autumn colours' which was perfect for this journey! Basically, you just make a big half granny square (so, a triangle) using a lovely sock yarn in a stunning colourway - no counting involved, so perfect for lecture times! I took pictures of my progress every day, just for the fun of it:

So, I did that little start to get into the pattern before we went on the trip. On the first day, I used about half a ball of yarn, on the second most of the rest of it. Day three, I joined in the second ball, which is almost gone after day four now. I have a third ball to work with for a nice big and cozy shawl, so still a bit to go! But I am really really enjoying this project.

I didn't work on the Halloween Sampler last week since I didn't want to take two stitching projects, but we had another trip this monday where I took only the Halloween one instead so I'm almost caught up now, pics to follow next week (after the weekend in Berlin).

Now for watching, really quick: When my dad and his girlfriend were here, we turned to subtitled Disney movies since her German isn't very good yet. We watched Aristocats and Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey, one of my altime favourites. 
Of course, Felix and I had some more shows to catch up on as well: Elementary (S1, E8-17) and Case Closed (E94-102). I also finished Volume 6 of the manga, and watched some more Once Upon a Time: Finished S1 (E18-22) and started S2(S1-5). So far I liked season 1 better, but probably the second one still has to get up to speed.

We also had a friend here for the weekend and went to a concert on Saturday night - the Rock Symphony Night by the local ORSO (orchestral society) with choir, band and singers. It was incredible! Just imagine this


and then three more of hours of even more awesome things! I'm still totally flashed and can't wait for next year ^_^

Tuesday 6 October 2015

Strange German Holidays #7 - German Unity Day

In the beginning of the year, I introduced a format here called Strage German Holidays. I didn't post under this title for a few months, so maybe you think I have all forgotten about it, but allas, I have not - we just don't have a single public holiday between June and October. Not sure why, but it's a bit annoying (of course it wasn't when I was still in school and hat 6 weeks of summer break). Anyway, last weekend, there were even two holidays, so I'm going to post about one now and the other one later.

October 3rd is German Unity Day, our national holiday. It's celebrated in honour of the German reunification in 1990. Or rather, it should be celebrated, but it is not - I've actually never heard of anyone actually doing something for the day. It's a day off work, and in years like this one where it falls on a Saturday, it's utterly useless for lots of people. There was even a notion to move it to a Sunday all together, but thankfully that didn't go through.

If you came here for a fun post and some facts, this is where you should stop reading. The next few paragraphs is just me ranting about politics, history and some things I meant to get off my cheast for quite some time.

I think it's a general problem of patriotism, or rather, a lack thereoff. Germans are not allowed to be proud of their country. A few years back, a politician was heavyly critizied (and I think he had to do a big apology in the end) for publicly announcing that he was proud to be a German. People would claim that nationality is only a a coincidence, not something you achieved, so there is no reason to be proud of it. Yet people all around the world are happyly claiming their pride to be American, French, Canadian or whatever, and everone thinks that's okay. And I think it is, national pride can and should be a part of our identity, of the values and traditions we were raised with. But Germany is deeply scarred, and the only time we are aloud to feel proud of who we are and to openly show our colours is during the football WM (which none of us achieved personally as well!)

But Germany is so much more than playing football and 12 years of gruesome war. We were a nation to be proud of long before that successless Austrian painter claimed our heritage, our values for himself. Yes, we had Göring and Goebbels and all the others that brought unspeakable pain over countless of human beings. But we also had Goethe and Schiller, Bach and Beethoven, Gutenberg and Luther, Einstein and Koch.

People say we must never forget what happened, what our people has done in that dark time of the thrd reich, or else it might happen again. I say we also must never forget those times we were great, so that they CAN happan again - if we remember both, the choice, the future, is in our hands. We must not forget the past, but we can't be crippled by it either. A while back, a book was published in Germany that became quite popular - it's the story of Hitler suddenly waking up in the middle of Berlin, right now in the 21st century. I've read it a few weeks back, and it really isn't that great - no hidden jewel of literature, but it is still a fun read. And I'm pretty sure that is why it got so popular in the first place: it's a book about Hitler, and it is FUN. What's more, it's only fun if you know your history - lot's of the jokes involve dates, places and persons you only know if you learned about the third reich in detail (which should be the case for all Germans as we cover the subject extensively in school, but of course there are always some who never pay attention). And I think that's the way one should deal with things - educate yourself, then laugh at them. Things that scare you controll you - and I don't want to be controlled by the Holocaust. I don't want to be controlled by Hitler. I want to laugh him in the face and yell 'You don't have any power here anymore' - because that's what happens in the book. He tries to win over people again, to gather followers (by means of some obscure TV show) - and everyone thinks he's just a joke, using his Hitler-act as a means to overact, over-draw certain opinions and actually say the opposite. And I believe - want to believe - that is true - that Germany today is in a state were most people wouldn't take these ideas serious anymore. Were even the thought of something like WWII, like the third reich happening again is so unbelievable, that people laugh at it. I hope we will reach that point some day.

A while back, there was a contest going on in the Stitching Pirate dA group with the topic of Countries and 'show your colours'. I actually had a few ideas myself, but in the end I caved, I was scared to be branded as a nazi. I am not a nazi. But I believe in Germany, I believe that this country is great and can be even greater - not by military power, but by brilliance, and kindness, and creativity. I also believe in the values our hymn announces: Unity, and Right, and Freedom. And even if noone dares to celebrate it yet, in my heart, that's what this day is about.

Thanks for your attention, and I hope I haven't scared anyone off now. Fun posts with pretty pictures and silly facts will resume soon, I promise :)

Saturday 3 October 2015

The Alphabet Club: Letter B

With how busy my life was those past few weeks, I have missed the checkins for quite a few of my SALs, and for the most part I'm okay with that - but The Alphabet Club is just a way too awesome idea to miss, so even if I'm a few days late, I'm still going to post my September-update (letter B) today, then hopefully be on time with C this month :)

Sadly, I didn't have any brilliant ideas this mont - I know some of you really like the swearing-idea, but that might be a special someday rather than the usual updates - and, for the worst part, I don't really have any stitching to show for the ideas I did have. So let's just split that - here's the stitching first:

~ Two bathtubs - or Badewanne in German. Quite a literal translation! ~

Now to be honest, bathtubs are pretty boring, so I'm going to talk about something else here, namely - bread! Now you might say, bread isn't any more interesting than bathtubs, but we Germans sure love our Brot. We eat a lot of it, mostly for breakfast and dinner, but there are also some warm meals that include it [this is assuming you eat a warm lunch and cold dinner, if you don't you might have to swap that around]. We don't really eat sandwiches (unless we're taking it somewhere, like children take their Vesperbrot to school (Vesper being another great German word - it describes a small snack or meal, usually bread, that is taken between breakfast and lunch. Kids will take a Vesper to school and eat it in the 'big break', usually around 10:30.) Usually, we just eat one piece of bread with something on top - Marmeladenbrot (bread with jelly or jam), Wurstbrot (breat with cold cuts - we do love our Wurstbrot!), Käsebrot (bread with cheese). Most people will also take butter on their bread, depending on what else they put on it. Personally I take butter with cheese and red jelly, and with some kinds of cold cut. I don't eat butter with yellow jelly, speading sausage, and Nutella. And sometimes I like to eat butter with peanut butter, with is a calorie fest, but so delicious! You can also eat a Butterbrot, so just bread with butter. Optionally, you can put some salt on it, or maybe chive or something...the Butterbrot is an old German favourite!

There are also many different kinds of bread. What I've seen of American bread (and I'm no expert on the subject, so I might be wrong too) is only used for toasting here. We have white bread, grey bread, black bread (also called by the lovable name of Pumpernickel), whole grain,  multiple grain, potato bread, carrot bread, sourdough bread...I just checked wikipedia and it says Germany is the country with the most kinds of bread worldwide. We even have a sweet fruitbread for christmas! In any case, a typical German bakery (Bäckerei - another B there!) looks much like this:

Late for something

As last weekend was pretty busy (but in the good, exciting way), I didn't get to update my blog. Then we were away on a business trip all week, and while I more or less kept up with my blog reading, my writing updates is terribly behind. I did take all the pictures to update last week though, so I'll just do two seperate posts, plus what ever else I missed. I hope I'll catch up this weekend :D

So, what did I do last week...of course, I did another square on the Halloween Spooky sampler, and a very delicious one too!

I also worked quite a bit more on My Day Off, finished the lady's upper body and did a lot more background.

And of course there was also some knitting involved - I did finish the Hitchhat with time to spare, so I finally have the complete set to show. I'm still not good with that knit-stitch, but it looks better than plainly sewing the parts together so I'm okay with that, and I'll practice more.

On the weekend dad and his girlfriend were here, so I could give her the set and she was thrilled.We had agreat time together, I really like her and it was so good to see my dad actually happy after such a long time ^_^

Now for the watching, I'm not sure what happend last week and what happened this week, so I'll do it all in the post for this week. Until then, have fun reading and happy weekend!

Sunday 20 September 2015

September Gifted Gorgeousness

This time I know that at least the Gifte Gorgeousness SAL is due for a checkin, so let's just do that :D Still having a very busy time, part good busy, part stress busy, but I'm hopping along, and somehow getting in a lot of crafting time at the edges, I suspect it's what's keeping me sane, well, mostly sane, these days ;)

So let's see...my main project these days is My Day Off, a gift for Felix' mum and therefor very much part of the GG SAL. I did make a lot of progress on this again, I moved the snap to work on the upper half and finished the lady's pillow and hair, the background up to the upper edge, and that green thing is a window shutter. Now I started on her upper body, and after that it's more background again.

Another gift project I'm working on, although not cross stitch, is Hitchhat. This is part two of four, so it's actually knitting up pretty fast. I only have one more week to finish this, but two days of workshop next week (which basically means lots of sitting and listening for me), so lot's of knitting time. I like how the shaping is working here, you might see that better when I'm all done with the knitting and get to sewing.

My third project doesn't qualify for GG, but nevertheless I want to share my progress with you: Here's the fourth block of our Halloween SAL by Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery. I love this little pumpkin, and he's showing up way better on the orange fabric than I dared hope for :)

In other news, I played Magus this week. My friends kept telling me it's the worst game ever, and of course I had to see for myself - well, it's not stellar, but I did have a bit of fun for the four hours or so it lasted. It's pretty repetitive, but short enough to not get boring. They market it as an RPG, but actually it's more of a shooter, ou just press one button to do ypur magic, aim, and watch as everything perishes before you, instantly. The story is pretty cliché as well, but there are a few witty remarks I liked. I don't regret playing it, but that might be partly because I spent only 1.80€ as it was on sale.
I also finished volume 5 of the Case Closed/Detective Conan mange today. Felix and I also watched some more, more precisly E89-93. Then we started Elementary (might be because we were a bit on a Holmes trip thanks to Conan) and watched the first few episodes (1-8) of S1, and right now I'm getting into a few more episodes of Once Upon a Time (S1, E13-17). I'll probably go to bed after this one though, it's almost 2am here :)

Sunday 13 September 2015

September TUSAL - or something?

I have to admit, I'm not at all sure which SALs I'm late for this time - I know it's Tons of Time, but I didn't stitch any tinies lately, and I suppose it should be TSAL time again, so have a picture of m ORT jar, nicely filled with lots and lots of ORTS mostly from My Day Off :D

Because I did make a fair bit of progress on My Day Off: I filled in the flower pot you saw the outlines of last time. I think this might have been the area with the most colour changes in the whole design, and it was a nice change of pace from the usual big chunks! I did make a mistake somewhere in there, but I decided it wasn't worth counting and frogging and recounting, as it is small and probably not noticable in all the flowers there. Then, I filled in some background and the sea, so the lower half of the pattern is now finished and I can move the hoop up, up and...left. It's been a while since I've been that excited about this project!

Of course, I also worked on the Halloween SAL, and finished the third block - A as A-dorable Ghosties. 

I also started a new knitting project - Hitchhat, the hat rom the same series that had the Mostly Warmness wristwarmers and the Hitchhiker shawl. I now have a deadline on this, the whole set has to be finished by the 25th, but as I have some serious knitting time coming up this week, this shouln't be a problem :)

And one last thing I wanted to show you - while cleaning up my desk I found the paper for this little guy, and I just had to put him together! I used to do much more papercraft when I was younger, maybe I should get back into it, it's fun and there are so many great geeky designs now :)

Now what else happened...some gaming, as I finally finished Assassin's Creed Brotherhood (I only played the story recently, but I'd been busy with the Multiplayer for quite a while, and getting everything to 100% was a bit difficult now). I really like the series, but more for the historical parts than the overall-arc. Revelations is up next :)
Then I also got Felix to play and finish The Walking Dead Season 2 with me - I love Telltale games, and this one had some heartbreaking decisions, consequences and twists in it.

Of course, we finished S9 of Bones by watching the last episode, and then there was some more Detective Conan/Case Closed (E65 - E88) of which I also finished the third volume of the Manga, and I had one more episode of Once Upon a Time (S1, E12) :)

Sunday 6 September 2015

Summer postcard blog hop & more

Update time again - after another lazy weekend and not-to-busy week, I feel almost back to normal again. The summer seems to be officially over, it's getting colder outside, although the sun can still be quite warm and bright when she decides to come out after all.

My post today shall be started by my entry from the Summer Postcard blog hop that Jo was hosting this summer. The subject was pets, and here is the entry from Bea:

I'm a cat person, totally. I have two at the moment, a white domestic short
hair named Snowy and a black Scottish-fold named Yoda. I grew up with cats as
the family pets. My dad, who was a terrible tease, used to say to me when I
was being bratty "Remember your place in this family young lady - we had cats
before we had you". I can't imagine my life without them, in spite of the fact
that they regularly drive me crazy.

Now after that little cutie hopefully got your attention, let's move on to my own progress: I got a big chunk of Day Off done this week, finishing all the ground in the lower right corner. The shadow of the flower pot I so neatly outlined had a little overlap with the flowerpot itself as you can see, so me goal for this week is to fill in said pot and hopefully also the sea to the right of the bathtub, so I can move my qsnap upwards after that.

I also worked on the second block for the Halloween SAL. After securing the center I moved up to the upper left corner, so I can do my usually working-down-and-right' after this week. I also did the part of the border that surounds this block, so I won't have to do all of it in the end.

Last but not least, I have a knitting finish: After working on it on and off for a really long time, I finally cast off Hitchhiker yesterday. It has the exact 42 spikes that the original pattern calls for, so it is not too big, but will still keep your neck nice and warm. I will eave in the loose ends after washing and blocking, and that will happen once I have finished the hat as well, which I intend to cast on this weekend.

As for out watching, Felix and I worked our way through Season 9 of Bones (E6-23). Only one left to go, which we will hopefully watch today :) We also saw the second episode of Fear the Walking Dead, and a bit more of Case Closed/Detective Conan (E55-65).

Monday 31 August 2015


It's time for August's DESIGN update - in fact, it's almost to late for it, so I better hurry up and post!

What project are you talking about this month?

This month I will be talking about the Hare Hop project by Gale French/Stitchers Anon.

Have you stitched a project by this designer before?
Nope, this was a first.

Would you buy/stitch a design by this designer again? Why/Why not?
I most surely will! I actually have the first installment of her Year of the Hare at home that I recently won in a giveaway Gale was generously holding, and I'm planning to stitch this and the other eleven sometime soon.

What made you choose this particular design/designer?
This pattern is part of a stitching hop, so I was the first in a group of stitchers to receive it and will send it on to the next one. I really liked the idea and the pattern to, so I decided to join in and I haven't had reason to regret it :)

Did you notice anything that distinguished this designer from others? 
Gale has this adorable head-canon of Holmsley the hare who adopted an orphaned deer, Fergus, and the two of them are featured in many of her patterns.
As far as I've seen, her patterns are usually full stitches with little to none backstitching. She doesn't seem to usually use hand dyed fibers, but some of her designs really inspire me to use some nevertheless, like in the picture above where I used 'Mist' by Nina's threads for the writing.

The Alphabet Club: Letter A

When Chiara from The Grey Tail first announced the Alphabet Club SAL, I was pretty excited, as it combines two of my favourite things: cross stitch and languages. I can not describe as well what Chiara and Jo have thought off, so if you are interested please follow this link to read the full decription. The short version is that starting this August, each month covers one letter, and we post about words, sayings or other stuff from our native language, which coresponding crafts pictures.

Now after the initial excitment, the busyness of summer washed over me, so I can only now on the very last day of the month actually do my post, but I have put some thinking into this before. I thought of doing some kind of theme, maybe flowers, or cuss words, or nursery rhymes, but I really can't find those for each letter of the alphabet...so I decided that this posts will just follow my fancy, sometimes goofy, sometimes more sophisticated, whatever strikes my mind ;)

So for this first month, the letter is A, of course, and my word is *drumroll*...

~ Angel ~

Now wait a minute, you might say, 'angel' isn't a German word! Well you're right, and you're also wrong. Now an angel as shown above in 'Angel of Frost' by Teresa Wentzler, which I stitched last winter, is called 'Engel' in German. But there is also the word 'Angel', which means fishing rod! Now you now these little arguments on facebook, where one party posts pictures of their baby/dog/kitty stating 'my little angle' and someone anwers 'yes, she's so acute' and then an argument breaks out whether confusing angle and angel is an understandable mistake or not? No you know one more meaning of the word for extra fun!

Sunday 30 August 2015

August WIPocalypse, Halloween SAL & More

I am still very much behind with my blogs and everthing, but after a few VERY busy weeks (friends of Felix visiting, Felix' parents visiting, stuff like that) we are currently having a suprisingly lazy and gloriously stitchy weekend, and I slowly feel like I'm getting back on top of stuff. So first of all, I have three stitching updates to show.

The first one is my progress on My Day Off. It's been a bit neglected to to other, deadlines stuff (see below), but I did finish all the ground below the bath tub and am now moving onwards to the lower right corner.

Next up is a Halloween SAL I started with my girls. Carla, Nancy and I are SALing on the Halloween Spooky Sampler by the Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery, doing one block per week, and Ashley and Magical are tagging along with Halloween projects of their own choice. For my sampler, I decided on using the fabric 'Pumpkin Patch' by Sparklies, a bright orange, and I think t's working out beautifully :)

And last but not least, I'm taking part in the Hare Hop, a stitchy hop designed and organized by Stitchers Anon - in teams of four, we're passing around the specially designed pattern, each one of us having four weeks to stitch it. I took three weeks, although I could have been much faster if it wasn't for all the aformentioned busyness. To make my interpretation unique, I used 'Mist' by Nina's Threads for the writing, and swapped out a few of the other colours for ones I had in my stash.

Now this month's question for WIPocalypse is to talk about my stitching journey on one of the projects posted above, but as two of them have been started since my last update, and the other one only a few weeks back, there's not much to tell here. I actually wen through my WIPs and realzied that, apart from three UFOs (tablecloths are started waaaaay back and I'm not sure if I ever want to finish them) all of them have been started since the beginning of this blog, so less than two years ago. I think I can be a bit proud of that :)

So much for my stitching progress. Other things to catch up on:

  • I finished the second volume of the Case Closed/Detective Conan manga
  • Mostly during my vacation (but I just finished the last two chapters this week), I read Death of a Gossip, the first of the Hamish McBeth mystery novels my friend Carla loves so much. And I quite enjoyed it, it wasn't very impressive where the case is concerend, but did a great job making the characters really life-like, with both likable traits and little quirks. It was also not very long and a nice quick read, I have three more of the novels on my kindle and am looking forward to reading them.
  • Felix and I had a thing for older movies this past weeks, so we watched Hook, Karate Kid and Jumanji (Hook being the only one I've seen before, but it's been a while). I really liked all of them, and once again, I feel like I'm 'getting' many more jokes now :D 
  • We also finished watching How I Met Your Mother (S8, E21-24, and S9, E1-24). I know that many people hated the end. I already knew where the show was headed (we've been way to late with watching this to avoid spoilers), but I still enjoyed it, and frankly - in my believe, the ending is PERFECT. Having watched the whole show while knowing where it's going, there are so many hidden pointers throughout the seasons, and it all just makes so much sense.
  • We also started watching Fear the Walking Death (E1). Amazon prime is releasing the episodes one by one, right after they air in the US, and I really wanted to have this experience (of having to wait a full week for each new episode) once, although I like binge watching, this suspense is nice as well. Oh, and the premiere was really promising as well!
  • Now where watching Season 9 of Bones which just showed up on prime, so far we've seen the first five episodes and it's great to see all our beloved characters again. Also, Season 8 ended with a big spspense-thingy (not really a cliffhanger, but still) and we couldn't wait to see that resolved!
  • I also saw another episode of Once Upon a Time (S1, E11), but I'm really slow at watching stuff alone at the moment...