Saturday, November 12, 2011

My new favorite book...

Constance, Germany is a cute little town right on the border of Germany and Switzerland and only a little over an hour from where we live. I had driven through it but never really stopped to check it out, in spite of living in Zurich for more than 12 years now. Well, the kids and I finally went when they were out of school in October for their Fall break. The main mission of the trip was to visit the SeaLife acquarium and check out the mall that is right next door as most things are much cheaper in Germany than in Switzerland, especially with the strong Swiss franc. The acquarium was nice - a bit small and crowded but with enough sea life to entertain the kids for an hour, but our favorite part of the trip was the bookstore in the mall. We spent at least over an hour roaming around, sitting in the comfy chairs looking at books and making our Christmas "wish lists".  I found a beautiful book by Sania Pell called The Homemade Home (in German: Lieblings Deko). It has some amazing projects that are right up my alley. And as one might guess, I just happened to stumble across her blog last week when I had a few spare minutes to check out some of my other favorite blogs.  
The Homemade Home: 50 Thrifty and Chic Handmade ProjectsLieblingsDeko: Schöner wohnen mit kreativen Ideen

Check it out if you need some creative ideas for the holidays and home. These air dry clay tags are top on my list :-) - I mean how cute are they!!! Any any stamp will do (and I have plenty to choose from...)!

Have a great weekend!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Our baby's growing up....

 How is it that time flies by at mock speed these days? Could it be because we are so busy with all the little things that don't really matter in life - like checking the blackberry to see if any "urgent" emails for work have come in during the past 5 minutes - that makes us practically miss the things that really do matter, like sitting with the kids and listening to how their day was (and I mean, really listening without all the noise & distractions going on in your head)? Our baby started kindergarten in August and, I'll tell you something, it is like she turned into a different child overnight (including growing about 2 inches in what seemed like a week...). The chubby little baby has grown into a beautiful little girl in the blink of an eye and it makes me sad and happy at the same time.  I'm so happy that I will be able to watch her continue to blossom in the months and years to come all the while having a bit less "noise" in the background come December when I will be leaving my job to stay home and take in the things that matter in my life. Here's a little book to remember our little Miss Sunshine. Hope you enjoy it.
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Monday, August 8, 2011

Ahhhh...the wonderful taste of Italy

There are certain things about Italy that can make you wonder how in the world people can live there. For instance, the roads. The roads are terrible in many of the regions, filled with potholes, so many twists and turns you can't begin to count them and, of course, the crazy Italian drivers who think 1) they are Mario Andretti and 2) they do not need to obey any normal rules of the road. Next you have the opening times for the shops. Only in Italy can you work from 9am to 12pm and then again from 4:30pm to 6pm and call it a full day. Finally, not many other countries in the world all head to the beach for the first two weeks of August. This results in massive traffic jams on the highways and completely booked out beach chairs with umbrellas in spite of the beach being half empty.

However, saying all that, there is no place I would rather be to to enjoy amazing meals that could feed an army rather than a family of four and delicious wines and olive oils from local vineyards. We just returned from a week in the Marche region of Italy which borders Tuscany on the west and the Adriatic Sea on the east. It was our first time in this region and will definitely not be our last! La Tavola Marche is a wonderful little gem hidden in the hills of northern Marche about 45 minutes to 1 hour from the Adriatic coast. It is run by two wonderful American hosts, Jason and Ashley, and has 5 apartments you can rent by the day or the week. Jason is a spectacular chef and offers courses on making fresh pasta and sauces as well as many of the specialty dishes of the region, sourcing most of the veggies straight from his garden. It was a much needed break from the real world and brought back some of the things I have been missing since taking on a much more challenging position in the firm I work for.

Here are a few pics from our adventure:

Views of La Tavola
Playing at the beach, eating gelatti and wishing we could have been sitting under the umbrella that was unfortuntately "reserved"...

Just a few of the amazing meals and fresh veggies from Jason's garden

Homemade pasta (that I made!!!) with a fresh green bean and tomato sauce...mmmmm good!
 Hope you are enjoying your summer too!


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sun & Mountains Messenger Bag

I'm excited to show you a bag that has been calling my name for the past 3 months, saying "Why won't you finish me????? I'm lonely over here in your messy corner of the world! I want someone to USE me!!!!!"

A friend special ordered this bag in December and I finally found some time over the weekend to put some tender loving care into finishing it. I can't wait for my friend to see it :-)!
Messenger bag - approx. size 15"w x 13"h

Hand-embroidered on/around the flap

This sun makes me smile!
Inside pocket with my label (it also has a zipper pocket on the other side) -
for those of you who don't know, Blume means "flower" in German :-)

Hopefully I will find some time to make some spring & summer bags in the near future. I'm in the mood for a bright, colorful bag to carry around Zurich this summer!

have a great week!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

A lovely little find

I actually have a few minutes to check out some of my favorite blogs - a rarity since I am now working 60-80% in a "real" job again...sigh! In my bliss, I found this lovely little find on Decor8Lisa Stickley's spring collection totally caught my eye for the: 1) beautiful spring colors and 2) adorable bags (you know how I love, love, love bags), aprons and spring collection of cups, plates and knick-knacks that I really don't need but would LOVE to have!  She even has free shipping through March 16th for anyone who is interested!!!!

Happy weekend to you all!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Chocolates and cheese

Miss A with her cupcake
Birthday cupcakes with Washi tape flags
Chocolate and cheese ... who can resist these two things??? I feel for those people out there who have allergies to milk and cannot enjoy the luscious flavor of chocolate (dark, being my flavor of choice) or the variety of cheeses available in Switzerland.  We love chocolate and had a great opportunity this week to enjoy it multiple times - birthday celebration early in the week and a visit to tour a chocolate factory on the weekend. Miss A helped me make the best ever chocolate cupcakes for my birthday on Monday. I absolutely LOVE Wacky Cake which has no eggs and can be mixed up in the dish/pan you want to make it in. So easy and honestly one of the moistest cakes I have ever had. For the frosting on the cupcakes above, I just melted some dark chocolate and added a couple spoons of sour cream and a little powdered sugar - deeeeeeelicious!

On to our next chocolate expedition... Mr Z and his friends started a book club in the Fall and read several of the Roald Dahl books, including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The kids read the book, watched both versions of the movie and, of course, had to tour a real chocolate factory at the end of the session! We drove to the French region of Switzerland to a little town named Broc to visit the Callier chocolate factory (a branch of Nestlé). Kids had a fabulous time and by the end of the tour, had eaten enough chocolate to last for a month :-)! Here are a few photos of the tour:
The Golden Tickets!

Duh?!?! All the time!!!!

Mr Z stuffed full of chocolate - looks a bit like the squirrels that Veruca Salt wants in the movie!
Gruyére cheese is one of the most famous cheeses in Switzerland and is used in everything from fondue to quiche to slicing and eating plain with bread for dinner. The Callier chocolate factory was only about 10 minutes from the town of Gruyére, a gorgeous old village that sits on top of a hill surrounded by incredible mountains. So, of course, we had to stop and check it out! The day was beautiful and the kids enjoyed running around the open cobblestone streets (no cars allowed!). Unfortunately, we didn't have a chance to eat there as we had 5 rowdy kids, 4 adults and only a few restaurants to choose from who could not (or would not) want us partaking in their overpriced cuisine! However, we can now say we've "been there, done that" and have some great photos of the day. Here are a few of Gruyére:

Have a great week!  I'll see you again soon!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Love Notes...completed project!

So on Friday, you saw a little sneak peak at what I was planning for V-day. Red, pink and linen with all the trimmings :-)! Now you can see the completed project!

 Felt pouch embellished with trims and hand stitching

 Inside: tags, mini cards and coordinating envelopes

 Adorable heart tags - perfect for any gift!

 A few of the cards. There are 5 total (including my favorite
foldout heart below)

Stay posted for more V-day ideas in the next couple of weeks!

ART Therapy with friends

Do you ever feel like you are drowning in a sea of commitments and you can't seem to come up for air? Like when everyone in your family is demanding your time - "MOOOMMY, can you help me? I'm hungry. I'm thirsty. I'm bored. I want to go here or there. I want... I wannt... I waannnnnt..." and "Why haven't you done this yet? What have you been doing all day????"   I defintitely find myself in these dark waters from time to time. It weighs you down like a rock tied around your waste.

But do you know what I do when things start going black?  I forget the rest of the world for a few hours and escape to ART. How it calms me when I am all tangled up inside. Paper... ink... stamps... ribbon... thread... fabric... - all are sooooo therapeutic. They allow me to release the stress of the day and create something beautiful, even if it is only beautiful to me. I had an ART therapy session today with some friends who also needed a bit of artful release. We made these cute little felt pouches and mini note cards and tags to go inside. All the things I love combined into one cute package. What more could a girl ask for?! Here are a few photos of our creations.

 Green & Pink flowers and little red hearts...

 Felt pouch that measures approx. 4" w x 4.5" h

 Inside pockets are about 4" apart

Stamping all the goodies inside the pouches!

See you again soon!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Sneak Peak: Love Notes

With Valentine's Day only a few weeks away and a little inspiration from Stampin Up!'s new Occasions Mini Catalog, I thought it would be fun to make some Love Notes and tags that are packaged in pretty little felt pouches for some of my friends. Don't you just love the dainty flower ribbon? Can't wait to get started sewing and stamping!
More on this project coming soon!

Happy Friday!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Drawing with Misty Mawn

I'm taking an on-line class with Misty Mawn and this week is drawing. Lines, shading, doodles, portraits, whatever suits your fancy! It has been so much fun to pick up a pencil again. As a kid, I got a book from my Grandma on "how to draw animals". It was the greatest thing in the world, along with the tracing paper she gave me to trace the animals first to help get the feel of the proportions. Once I got pretty good at the tracing part, I moved onto drawing them from the pictures. Dogs were my favorite thing to draw, especially cute little golden retrievers or lab puppies off the covers of various magazines laying around the house. I honestly haven't sat down to just draw for a VERY LONG TIME. Here are a couple of the things I've drawn this week. Still have the assignment to do a self-portrait but not sure if that will happen or not....could be scary!

This is supposed to be Miss A, but she looks about 5 years older than she really is... oh well! Had fun drawing her :-)!

One assignment is to pick one item and draw it, paint it or incorporate it into the assignments every day of the 5 week class. I chose my favorite coffee/tea cup. Here's a couple different drawings of it as well as an apple from memory (something much different than a real apple!).

Have a great weekend!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Amazing Sunrise over the lake

God blessed us with a beautiful sunrise over the mountaints and lake this morning. Z said it looked like a volcano errupting from the mountains! I think he is right on!

Happy Sunday everyone!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Scrap Fabric Cards

So I mentioned in my previous blog that I was working on a few projects...well, here's one of them! It comes, once again, from the Greencraft magazine by Stampington & Company. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that magazine!  From one who loves all kinds of fabric, I have a hard time getting rid of all the scraps. You know - the little squares or irregular sized pieces after you cut something else out. I saw in Greencraft where another crafty soul made use of the little pieces to create some beautiful cards. Here's my version:

They were remarkably easy to make and didn't require any kind of precise sewing - the messier the better, I found!  To give them as a gift, I tied a few together with some pretty ribbon and added some phrases to choose from (thank you, thinking of you, happy birthday). This way she can choose to add a phrase if she likes or to leave it blank!

:-) Jx

Friday, January 7, 2011

Long time, no see...

Happy New Year! I am still in a bit of shock that it is already 2011. Where in the world did 2010 go????? Sorry for the delay in posting lately. Holidays and life seemed to get in the way over the past month. One of my New Year's resolutions, well at least in my head and now in print, is to post regularly. What is the definition of "regularly"?? That's a very good question in the crazy life I lead. The goal is to post once a week and see how things go from there. So, track me down if I don't live up to my resolution!

I'm working on a couple of projects that I will share with you soon. I'm also taking a 5 week on-line workshop called "Stretching Within" from Misty Mawn where she will teach techniques for drawing, painting, collaging and photo journalling (here are the details). The class starts tomorrow and I am SOOOOOOOOO excited! There are currently 175 people from around the world signed up for the course and from what I have seen so far via the Facebook group that was set up, it is an AMAZING group of people who use art as a way to survive and thrive. Our first "assignment" was to write a poem entitled "I come from..." - this to replace the standard "my name is Julie and I live in Switzerland". What a way to open the door to your heart and soul and remember things that get buried in your memories as you grow older. It has been so incredible to see the poems everyone has shared...very powerful and emotional. I can't wait to see what other journeys this workshop will take me on.

Until next time!