Monday, December 21, 2009

Cousins' Get-Together and Blackwork And Stones

I got pictures from the Cousin's Get-Together and want to share a few of them with you. These were taken at the Get-Together at the end of November. I posted about the weekend here and now, I've got the "people pictures" to share!

From left to right, Anita, Heidi, Monika, Sigrid, me and Renate, my sister-inlaw.

This is a good picture of us all. Left with the blue scarf is Anita, me in the white coat, Sigrid has the orange scarf, Renate in the way back, Heidi with the orange coat, Monika on the right and her husband Walter to her right. Yes, he is half-saint, hanging out with so many women!

We sure had a good time! And fortunately, it wasn't all that cold. The hot Christmas wine helped with any chills though. I am always the designated drive so I'm drinking hot "children's punch". No we didn't drive and no I couldn't have even helped find the way back to the farmhouse where we stayed! ha ha The get-together is a yearly thing and I'm sure looking forward to it next year!

My Blackwork and Stones now has a name.....Sometimes Together.

This is the last colored block on the piece. It's very pretty, I think. I like the colors. I was afraid that the white beads wouldn't be seen but they are great.

And, for the first time, here's a picture of the whole project.

You can see where I've started working on the "holes" on the left side. Neither of the black blocks are finished. I haven't quite decided what I want to do. I've got it narrowed down to three options so as I work on them, the "right" thing will pop into my head and I'll just know. The spaces between the blocks will also be worked but that's still a long way off. I hope you like it!

I'm not sure how much I will be writing over the next couple weeks. So just in case it isn't alot, I want to wish you all a good holiday and merry Christmas. However you spend it, I hope that you all find the true spirit of Christmas filling your hearts.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Project Progress and What's Under My Tree

Hi everyone! Just a couple more pictures of new Blackwork and Stones blocks. I'm working on the last colored one now.

I think I've got a nice mix of simple, complicated, chaotic and elegant blocks. It's really exciting to see how this is progressing. I'm not quite decided where I go from here. I guess I'll just have to see where my imagination takes me.
Under my tree is Abby Cat. She sat there for the first couple of days but only when the lights were one and only in the evening. Today I found her hanging out in mid-afternoon, all alone in the room! No, I don't really want her there but YOU try telling a cat something! I didn't think she'd go under the tree since she re-discovered the heated floor in the bathroom. It looks like my Mom is right again....I put the tree up for her!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Blackwork and Stones Progress

Here are the latest 2" blocks completed on my Blackwork and Stones piece.

I'm now done with 9 of 12 colored blocks. I know...I'm showing you one block at a makes it more exciting that way!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Lessons Learned

Reflections while baking cookies: Lessons Learned

1) softened butter is not the same as melted butter
2) planning on 5 different kinds of cookies sometimes means having 4
3) experimenting with baking a new type of cookie when you need them is not such a great idea
4) try to pay attention when you mother teaches you how to bake may need to know 40 years later

Everyone in my family knows the story of Wanda's No-bake cookies. My mom tried to save them...she baked them. She froze them. She tried to feed them to the birds. Well, they were not really edible but they make a great story, one that the next generation is already laughing about. I feel pretty much that way today. I planned on baking 5 different kinds of cookies (three American and two Austrian) to take to my mother inlaw so she had cookies for holiday guests. I made the American ones first....peanutbutter/peanutbutter with chocolate chip cookies, chocolate chip cookies and molasses cookies. The molasses cookies were sort of different. No surprise there...I couldn't find molasses so I used something called "sugar beet" which is similar but not really the same. But fine...these cookies were all good and I am happy. Then came the vanilla Kipferl. I can't really complain about the taste....they taste totally like what they are supposed to taste like. But they look so weird!!! I think some of them look maybe okay but some of them look like vanilla worms! Or maybe vanilla crabs!

OK...but so far, so good. I'm doing alright. How hard could "cut" cookies be? You know...the kind of cookie that you flatten out with a rolling pin and use cookie cutters? I just know I was taught how to do this. And I had dreamed of the perfect little cookies with jelly filling...I even went in the basement and got my rolling pin!

I just have no idea what went wrong.

They had holes in them! And they didn't hold their shape! and they were sort of chewy in a carmel sort of way!

I tried sprinkling them with powdered sugar.

I tried baking them longer than called for.
Nothing really helped. I did finish making them all but I am NOT giving them to my mother inlaw! Mommy......where ARE you????????

Friday, December 4, 2009

Christmas Tree, Another Blackwork and Stone Square and Knödel

Jingle Bells.....Jingle Bells....It's a wonderful time of the year! Everything is so colorful and happy and bright. As promised, I'm posting Christmas tree photos now that I've got some good ones.

Even though the reflection from the ornaments looks bluish, I think you can really see the royal purple. My lights are supposed to be purple too but they look more pink when they are on.

Under the tree this year, I put one of my geodes. The purple matches really well. And it takes away a very empty place where Abby Cat thought she was supposed to be the decoration! Even if you don't live with a cat (or, as the cat thinks...if you don't belong to a cat!) it just goes to reason that trees + cats = potential disaster!!!!!

It's a pretty little tree. I have used just the top of a huge tree for the past couple of years. The huge tree would actually fit in the living room but it would be just too big and crowded.

I finished another one of my Blackwork and Stones squares.

Of course, this is one of my favorites because it has amethyst in it. But I used some bluish/purple thread which really makes it stand out.

Lastly, I'd like to share my first Knödel making experience. Of course, I couldn't just follow the recipe. I added celery and carrots. It was sort of like stuffing but in knödel form. They weren't as solid as they could have been but, for my first try, I'd say they came out really well. Only two of them sort of fell a little apart. Not completely but just enough for me to see that I have to pack them just a little harder. Not "tennis ball" hard, but hard enough to keep the ball form.'s back to cookie baking. Did anyone want to see pictures of the cookies? I started with the American cookies first (chocolate chip, molasses, peanutbutter) and this weekend I'll attempt the beautiful Austrian cookies. Well, just two different kinds. Here is what they are supposed to look like:

I can only hope that mine look half as nice as my sister inlaw's! By the way...they taste just as good as they look!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Get-Together With Cousins, Progress on Piece

Happy 1st of December to everyone from cold and rainy Munich! Things are really starting to be very holiday-like here. Christmas time means many things, one of which is getting together with family and friends. I had a wonderful weekend experience getting together with the female cousins. I had met them all before and I spent a little time with a couple last year on the ski slopes. And I know my sister inlaw fairly well. But the chance to get together with everyone? Wow! I was so honored to be invited! We met at one cousin's house in a beautiful little town in Tirol. We enjoyed the music program and festivities in Rattenberg. Rattenberg is a medieval town known for it's glass refining businesses.

Because of the many glass products, you can imagine how bright and beautiful everything is. The town was completely decorated for the Christmas program in almost a medieval way with candles in all the windows, big barrel fires, torches lighting the streets and the smell of hot wine and food everywhere.

I for one cannot take photos at night but this one turned out sort of okay. This was the grand finale of the program. The angel in the middle, sitting on a big swing, sang in a clear and strong voice.

It was magical. After the singing, the church bells rang. They must have rung for a good 15 minutes. I personally could listen to the bells ringing for hours - I love the sound. After the program we had an incredible meal in an amazing restaurant which was the old train station restaurant. The food was absolutely perfect! After a nightcap in a local bar, it was off to bed. The next morning our day started out right with a great big breakfast at the farmhouse where we stayed.

We couldn't have asked for better weather. We visited the "der lustige Friedhof" or, as it is called in English the "merry cemetery" where funny tombstone verses from all over the area have been collected and are displayed. I'm sorry, I couldn't find a translated link but if you go to this link and click on the photos you can see at least what it looked like. After that, we went to Kufstein to a huge Garden store. It was amazing! The place is huge, I think at least 5 big halls and anything and everything you can imagine for Christmas was there. Everything imaginable to make your own wreaths or decorations to ones already made. Poinsettias in every size, shape and form and every other plant associated with Christmas and winter. In one hall, ornaments and decorations were grouped together by color. In another, by what it was. They also had a wonderful orchid display, bonsai trees and herbs. There were, however, no Christmas trees. It's still too early for that. A real tree is put up on Christmas Eve here and they are all down by the 6Th of January.

We all headed back to our own homes from the Garden store (after having some trouble just getting out of the parking lot there!) with good memories and a happy mindset to start December. To all the cousins.....thank you so much for inviting me! I had a wonderful time! I did learn though that being around so many people with so many conversations and topics that I need to get my German....faster!!! ha ha ha

I know this is a long post but I did want to share the great weekend. I'm almost done....I want to share a couple more squares on my Blackwork and Stones project.

If you click to enlarge the photos, you can see the details better. I can't tell you how much I enjoy working on this piece! Not only because I am designing it but because, well, it's colorful and happy and has so many neat things going on! More progress pictures soon!

And lastly, the house is decorated! It's great! The tree is beautiful...I used the big balls this year since last year I used only the smaller decorations. It looks fantastic but no pictures to post until I get one that is good. So far, they are too dark or too light or just not right. I don't think I often capture the true royal purple of the decorations. But some day.......