Thursday, December 20, 2012

christmas in Germany

Hello to everyone reading my blog today and thank you for dropping by.

As a multi-cultural family, it isn't always easy keeping up the traditions you had as a child. Over the years, I have learned that I must step back a bit and allow my children to experience the culture they live in as well as try to keep my own traditions alive.

I would like to share with you how Christmas is celebrated in Germany for most Christian families. Christmas Eve, December 24th, is the most special day and counts as Christmas or "Heiligabend." This is the day when the immediate family celebrates. Most families will have a Christbaum that is either bought, recycled (plastic) or is cut down in the forest (with permission of course). Some families decorate the Christmas tree together, but most will be decorated by the parents on December 24, right before presents are opened. The size of a tree is generally smaller than in America. The cost ranges between 15€ and 60€. To prevent the children in the house from seeing the tree being decorated, the windows in the living room will usually be covered or the door will be locked. Decorations on the tree will usually be uniform and simple with handmade straw ornaments and uni-colored balls.
After the tree is decorated, the family goes to church in the evening and returns home to find presents under a decorated Christmas tree. This is usually prompted by a single ringing bell which signals that the Christkind (or Christ-Child, visually known as an angel) has come, has spontaneously decorated the tree and delivered presents, especially for the still growing children in the house. The presents will then be opened right before the children go to bed. A light dinner may also usually served in the evening.

December 25 is known as the first Christmas day and is spent with grandparents where the Christkind has also come and delivered yet more presents. This is usually the day where the larger extended family comes together and celebrates with a more formal dinner and present exchange.

December 26 is known as the second Christmas day and is usually spent with friends. This usually works out well for families who go to their children's grandparents home to celebrate. It gives the parents a chance to catch up with their friends who they have not seen in a while. It is also really nice to take advantage of the grandparents as babysitters so the parents can have an evening out.

Since we are an American-German family, we try to incorporate both traditions of the Christkind and Santa Claus. Additionally, there is another fellow who comes into the picture - Sankt Nikolaus or St. Nick who visits on December 6 and leaves behind little goodies for the children in their shoes. How to explain all of this to your child?  My children believe that Santa and St. Nick are brothers and all those men and women wearing Santa clothing in the stores and in public are just helpers, because Santa is majorly busy at the North Pole getting all those presents ready.

I wish you and your families a very happy holiday season filled with loving memories, peaceful moments and a healthy/prosperous new year.

Yours truly,
Karen

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

how colors change your mood

My husband and I have been looking through a lot of flooring catalogs lately, because we will be redoing the floors in the house (from top to bottom). In the process, I came along a really good company that separated their flooring into these five basic categories. I kept going back to this diagram to explain to my hubby how the different floor colors and textures change my mood.

For instance, in my living room, I like rich dark, walnut colors and dark reds - something that makes me feel warm and comforted. At the end of the day, I just want to snuggle on the sofa with my family, light a few candles and drink a glass of burgundy. MAN CAVE

As a total contrast, in my sewing room and in the kitchen, I like a fresh color scheme that keeps me on track - keeps me focused. Here I would like maple, birch, beech, or an old barn type of flooring - "Eichesägerau!" I am really trying to push this idea through. NATURE 

I will have my own sewing room soon, {yahoo} and I did a little research to get ideas for setting it up. I found quite a few rooms with white painted furniture and lots of color or no color. That's just out of my comfort zone. I need a little bit of warmth with light yellows.

In the children's rooms, it should be friendly and inviting. My kids will be playing in their rooms (hopefully), and it should make them happy and coordinate with lots of bright and friendly colors. NATURE or BEACH

Now, generally, we have lots of white in the bathroom. I guess it just goes hand-in-hand with water and "cleanliness." You always see lots of white in the hospital as well. BEACH

In the bedroom, I think we will be going for that spicy feeling with rich reds and yellows. AUTUMN 

We went with a beach type of feeling with light blues in our last apartment and another time with light purple and beech wood, but is really hard to pull off a romantic feeling in these colors. It still remained cool.

And lastly getting to the urban color of gray/grey. I know this is very modern, especially for quilts. I find this color really hard to get comfortable with. It gives me the heebie jeebies. I had one appointment with a female gynecologist who had her office decorated totally in this urban feeling - cement, cinder block walls, black leather sofas with metal detailing. I felt so uncomfortable there. I wanted a female doctor, but the textures and colors made me feel very uneasy. Needless to say, I never went back to her simply because of her office. URBAN

When I design quilts, some say that I like "gedeckte Farben." I don't really know what that means but translates to muted colors. I know I am drawn to dark fall colors. I have a nice collection of very traditional bicentennial fabrics in my fabric bins, but that's not really me. I think I bought them all, because that's what the market was telling me that I wanted. Or that was the only thing that was available when I bought them six years ago. Anyone want to swap fabrics?? I have some great old prints. I really like a collection of colors. I am an eclectic contiseur. I also recently realized my own style. I can work with the urban (20-ten) color palette, but I have to mix in one other rich color to "make it mine."

So, we will continue to look for the perfect flooring. Now that we have this little helper, it is easier for us to make a decision, at least a step in the right direction.

Keep sewing and look forward to hearing what you have to say.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

TradMod für Lilli FERTIG!

I finished my very first customer quilt today and am very pleased with the results. My German customer, Beate, contacted me a couple of months ago to sew together a memory quilt for her daughter from her daughter's baby clothing. I was totally honored to create such a lovely quilt for Lilli. I will post more pictures after the family receives their quilt, so they are the first to be totally surprised.

Beate decided on a traditional on point pattern with a 4 x 5 layout. I showed her a couple of sketches with light pinks and grays, but she wanted something really bright and cheery. I found the main fabric "Apple of my Eye" from the Quilted Fish for Riley Blake and added fabrics that matched, one white with pink polka dots from Tilda. I found a really pretty pink flannel from Debbie Mumm for Moda and used as the cuddly backing.

I knew I needed about 20 pieces of clothing to make a nice quilt and sorted out mainly the light pastels and white fabrics. These were going to be the center of my blocks. I backed all of the baby clothing patches with a stabilizer to keep the jersey fabric from pulling. To really set the out baby clothing fabrics, I used the bright fabrics all around.

The quilt went together rather easy after everything was well planned and decided. We wanted to keep it simple (kiss) or simple, easy, practical (sep). I asked a good friend and long arm quilter, Brigitte to quilt it for me. She came up with a really beautiful design totally in line with the theme - apples and love. A picture of the quilting will have to wait a while though -  until my customer receives her quilt. I am really impressed with Brigitte's quilting. She always has the greatest ideas and is a true quilt artist and fabric designer if you don't already know that.

I finished off the quilt with a striped binding from the Sugar and Spice series from Riley Blake using my typical 3/8" width double fold binding and closed with a running stitch. Even though this takes the longest time, it is worth that tedious effort. The only other way to close the binding, that I like, I found via Pat Sloan using a buttonhole stitch to close from the front. I use this mostly on baby blankets or "Krabbeldecken."

So, this very bright and cheery memory quilt will find a new home over the holidays. Every one of my quilts is a piece of me and I am honored to give this one to a family who values handmade blankets.

Thank you for commenting on my post. It encourages me to continue, especially on those overwhelming overcast days. I love and need the sunshine!!

Yours truly,
Karen
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